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Study: Marijuana Use Associated With Decreased Symptoms Of Opiate Withdrawal In Methadone Maintenance Treatment Subjects

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 16, 2013

    Cannabis consumption is associated with mitigated symptoms of opiate withdrawal in subjects undergoing methadone maintenance treatment, according to the findings of a new study published online in The American Journal on Addictions.

    Investigators at the Farber Institute for Neurosciences at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia assessed the use of cannabis in 91 opiate-dependent subjects undergoing methadone maintenance treatment. Researchers found that subjects seeking methadone treatment who acknowledged a history of cannabis use reported “significantly less daily expenditure on acquisition of opiates.”

    Authors additionally reported that subjects’ use of cannabis during treatment was associated with less severe symptoms of withdrawal on the clinical opiate withdrawal scale (COWS), an index designed to serve as an objective measure of opiate withdrawal. “[I]ncreased cannabis use was found to be associated with lower severity of [opiate] withdrawal in a subset of the sample with available chart data,” authors wrote. “These results suggested a potential role for cannabis in the reduction of withdrawal severity during methadone induction.”

    They concluded, “The present findings may point to novel interventions to be employed during treatment for opiate dependence that specifically target cannabinoid–opioid system interactions.”

    A 2009 study published in the same journal previously reported that moderate cannabis use and improved retention in naltrexone treatment among opiate-dependent subjects.

    Full text of the study, “Impact of cannabis use during stabilization on methadone maintenance treatment,” appears online in The American Journal on Addictions.

    25 Responses to “Study: Marijuana Use Associated With Decreased Symptoms Of Opiate Withdrawal In Methadone Maintenance Treatment Subjects”

    1. Adam Setzer says:

      Yes yes, how do you think i was able to get off the 28-36 pills a day…..i thought i wasn’t dependent….but guess anyone is after years and years and….years of use….to have that quality of life…in reality it wasn’t quality, it was pain management fucking up the quality of my body, my life was…..pretty fucked up. Who’d thunk that getting off pills and switching medicines would actually allow you to concentrate, remember and function better. My home life is soooooooo much more manageable now, more than ever.

    2. Ben says:

      Funny how, years ago, people touting these very benefits of this wonderful plant were ridiculed for such claims…

    3. Anonymous says:

      i guess they may have it right MJ is a gateway drug to cleaner health.

    4. roger says:

      I guess they were right. MJ is a gateway drug, to cleaner health.

    5. Galileo Galilei says:

      More and more the deliberate foot dragging on medicinal uses of marijuana appears to be nothing short of a crime against humanity. No one will ever be prosecuted to these crimes. The orchestration of the government apparatus to thwart the advance of medical marijuana is brilliantly conceived and implemented. Too bad the same cannot be said for other government programs.

    6. bobwv says:

      Click to watch the new Grandma 2013

    7. cosmic-surfer says:

      The biggest problem I see to creating safe, sane and successful addiction treatment is the current merging of Federal and State laws on the heads of licensed treatment facilities and physicians in the US (along with the prevailing attitude of all drugs are equal and therefore a problem not a cure). Even in states that have legalized Medical Marijuana, the use for addiction treatment is limited or non-existent.

      Those who are in a methadone treatment program are subject to the DEA regulations; Those who are locked into a legal system are often unable to avail themselves of Medical Marijuana without punishment.

      As long as we have the corruption of the “War on Drugs”, the ignorance and arrogance of legislators (most refuse to even deal with the concept or have a horse in the DEA race) and the bigotry against addiction patients/addicts, it is the most in need that will continue to be the victims.

      Chanmge will only come from:
      Education and attention to truth(thank you for the study Farber Institute for Neurosciences at Thomas Jefferson University …we need it replicated and replicated and shouted to the masses;
      Continued growth in the population numbers of addicted middle class and wealthy children and adults coming out of pain treatment as physicians dump their addicted patients out of fear and physicians over prescribing opiates;
      And the confrontation of the old, tired stereotypes that keep addicts in the shadows.

    8. anonymous says:

      feel like i am not gonna make it to see legalization in my state, so am stuck taking opiates for a fatal disease, though i could live awile, my dentist just told me my teeth are rotting from the inside, am not getting relief anymore.violins please

    9. Chris says:

      I have been dependent on opiates for almost 10 years and have been doing Suboxone treatment the past 2 years but its only delaying the inevitable withdrawal terror, really wish cannabis was legal so it could be a option in helping me get through them so I can get on with being clean and healthy.

    10. Dave Evans says:

      Galileo, just think about all the work that never got done and all things kids never learned about because we were wasting their time teaching them lies about marijuana.

      100′s of millions of man hours clocked doing nothing but filling people’s head up with bullshit.

    11. Anonymous says:

      True,as ive came down from 70mls. Daily,to just 8 mls. In 6 months,mostly smokin Jack Herer or Cheese!!;)

    12. Kory Jones says:

      The CannaWay Foundation seeks to infuse cannabis treatment into addiction recovery. This IS the new norm….science is catching up. Help CannaWay by supporting us through a donation Partnership to encourage further study. CannaWay is also seeking medical professionals. Contact us at info.cannaway.co

    13. Robert says:

      I have not had a drink in 19 years! smoking pot helps me enjoy life and feel good! I`m up and off to work every day on time.never miss days because of being hungover.

    14. Kristin says:

      I have been on pain management for 12 years and have not been able to smoke. Oops, broke the rule! Pain level is down considerably. MJ also helps fight the side effects of long term SRIs. Wish they would talk about that.

    15. plop says:

      Cannabis absolutely helps with the side effects of opiate addiction and withdrawal. Replaces benzodiazapines, which a lot of people turn to when supplies are low or unavailable.

      And it is the combination of benzos (xanax, valium etc) and opiates that cause the most unintentional overdoses.

      Simply put, if you can avoid going that route you are doing yourself a favor.

    16. Brooke says:

      I agree immensely with this study. I have smoked marijuana for years, but quit smoking when I found my true love- Oxycontin. But now that I’ve been clean & on methadone maintenance I started smoking here and there again. I’m now detoxing off the methadone and am down to 72 mgs a day. I started detoxing from 110. I have to say, although the pot definitely helps with transitioning from the opiates to the methadone, it also helps with detoxing off of the methadone. It helps me to be able to eat, exercise, work, and most of all: relax & sleep! When in withdrawals, marijuana helps with almost all side affects. Therefore, whichever drug you are trying to kick, get you some Ganja!

    17. Sunnigirl says:

      Glad I found this sight .This is my short tale….I have been seeing a pain mang dr.for 15 yrs .my. last prescribed dosage. was. 3 60 mg oxys plus 8 roxis. daily ( may I add im 5’3 100 lbs) tried tellin drs i wanted OFF the stuff! Wouldnt. listen.about a yr ago i experienced. weight loss from stress. Issues then dr. Prescribe”Marinol” pills , i live in Tx so thats the closest. We

    18. Sunnigirl says:

      DGet here to MJ (its pretty much liqued THC in capsule form but its great! Definatly helps w/opiate withdrawl. I took MYSELF off the opiates! Wasnt easy by far….but much better w/ marinol/mj !

    19. Steven says:

      I guess i kind of understand why some people were ridiculed for researching pot since all the “medicinal” benefits come from the very high that was supposed to be outlawed. Its kinda like sayin crystal meth is great for the obese and ketamine works great on panic attacks duh,

    20. Briana says:

      Oh my god I can not believe I found this! I am on methadone treatment now and am using cannabis to relive symptoms. I can be in full withdrawal and smoke, almost immediately after I smoke almost all of my symptoms dissapear!

    21. Jami Deweese says:

      I am 33 been smoking weed since age 12 I got on painkillers at 23 been at a methadone clinic for the last six yrs .I smoke weed everyday I didnt make it to get my dose today and im smoking weed like always .it dont help with any of my symptoms…..im thinking it only helps if your not a daily smoker

    22. pharmer says:

      I’ve been taking 40 mg. daily for over ten years, after beginning at at a higher dose (90 mg.) in the beginning. I’ve decided to get off methadone now, so I’m halved my dose in a few weeks by taking 5 mg. pieces 4x daily instead of the whole 10 mg. tablets 4x daily. I have been eating medical marijuana in strong doses this week, which helps enormously – I eat strong doses. Vaporizing or smoking medicinal cannabis helps too, but eating it can be much more potent. I’m getting off finally getting off methadone this time, after almost 15 years taking the synthetic opioid – last time I tried to detox too fast, and caused myself enormous suffering and wasted weeks of misery. In the past I’ve not been strong when it comes to suffering withdrawal syndrome pain. I need the help that eating medicinal cannabis gives me. Fortunately it’s legal for medical use in this state, so I can grow my own legally. I plan to use acupuncture, Chinese herbs specific to treating opiate withdrawal symptoms, and large amounts of acerola cherry powder (or rose hips) for natural vitamin C, which has been found to help ease withdrawal pain. Massage, physical activity, and showers twice a day to get the natural endorphins flowing again. Ibogaine can help to reset your brain, but it’s still illegal here: I tried to order some from Europe, and almost got busted for doing it. I would love to try ibogaine though, even after I get off of methadone. Ibogaine is very powerful psychic medicine which can help heal your soul, or so I believe after reading about it. I’ll find some iboga root bark somewhere…

    23. VinnyB says:

      I have been going to pain management for the last 4yrs, prescribed Oxycodone 10mgs 4 times a day and 30mg of MS Contin 2 times a day. I know it’s not as much as most people but when I try to get myself off of it I have severe pain through out my body. Where I live medical marijuana is not legal. I would love to try marijuana but because of my job I cannot. I wish they would legalize it on the federal level so nobody would be in fear of losing their jobs. I have been doing a lot of research on marijuana and from what I have read it is no more dangerous than smoking marlboro’s or drinking alcohol. They should just legalize it and tax it, it would solve some portion of our debt.

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