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Marijuana May Not Be Useful For Opioid Addiction, Study Finds

A study by Washington State University found marijuana not useful for opioid addiction.

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Credit: Ryan Casey

In recent years, medical marijuana has grown in popularity for its use in affective symptoms associated with opioid addiction. However, a new study by Washington State University is challenging that perspective.

According to a study, published in Addictive Behaviors, marijuana usage doesn’t necessarily treat depression and anxiety caused by opioid addiction. In fact, the study found it strengthens the symptoms.

The study, led by Marian Wilson, Ph.D., and her team of researchers, examined 150 participants that were being treated for opioid addiction at the time.

Patients who receive treatment for opioid addiction exhibit symptoms of depression and anxiety, alongside chronic pain.

In a survey conducted by Wilson, an estimated 67 percent of the 150 participants revealed they had utilized marijuana as a treatment for their symptoms in the past month.

“Some are admitting they use it just for recreation purposes, but a large number are saying they use it to help with pain, sleep, and their mood. We don’t have evidence with this study that cannabis is helping with those issues,” Wilson stated.

Instead, Wilson found marijuana usage for opioid addiction may increase the symptoms of depression and anxiety if used solely for that purpose.

Furthermore, the findings also suggested that only a fraction of the participants had a medical license for marijuana; most patients were self-medicating with the psychoactive drug.

The study also highlighted opioid overdose rates, as based on recent data, it is now the second-leading cause of accidental death in the US. Since marijuana usage has been instrumental in the opioid crisis, many question a possible link between the two, and its role in overdose cases.

Moreover, although the results provide a different perspective on the consequences of using marijuana to self-medicate, more research is needed to give more weight to these new findings.

“The effectiveness of cannabis for relieving distressing symptoms remains mixed and requires further research,” Wilson concluded.

Jose Florez is the founder and editor of Mental Daily. His work has appeared in Psychology Today, Glamour, HuffPost, among others. He is a mental health advocate, and currently studying psychology.

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