A Canadian study has found cannabis is associated with significant reductions in dependence on opioids and other prescription drugs, as well as an increase in quality of life. This study looked at patients in Canada and analyzed prescription drug use rate along with quality of life when incorporating cannabis into their treatment regimen. It involved in excess of 1,100 patients from 21 Canadian medical clinics. The study was published in the journal Pain Medicine and funded by the Canadian cannabis company Tilray. The findings supported baseline opioid usage among participants dropped from 28 to 11 percent over the course of six months when cannabis was integrated into their treatment. The study also showed daily opioid use “went from 152mg morphine milligram equivalent (MME) at baseline to 32.2mg MME at six months, a 78 percent reduction in mean opioid dosage.”
“The results of the Tilray Observational Patient Study (TOPS) add to a growing body of evidence that cannabis use can lead to a reduction in the use of prescription drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and other substances” Philippe Lucas, lead study author, said in a press release. “In light of the devastating impacts of the opioid overdose crisis in Canada and around the world, research examining the potential influence of cannabis on opioid use may be of particular importance to public health, and these findings could inform harm reduction strategies to mitigate the significant morbidity and mortality associated with opioids,” he said. There were similar reductions in four other drug categories that the study investigated: non-opioid pain medication, anti-depressants, benzodiazepines and anti-seizure drugs.
“The high rate of cannabis use for chronic pain and the subsequent reductions in opioid use suggest that cannabis may play a harm reduction role in the opioid overdose crisis, potentially improving the quality of life of patients and overall public health,” the study abstract says. Numerous observational studies have concluded that cannabis represents a potentially safer and effective alternative to opioid-based pain medication and other drugs, the researchers said the methodology they used makes their findings unique. “Due to its prospective individual-level design, detailed gathering of both cannabis and prescription drug use data, and diversity of patient characteristics and medical conditions in this large cohort, these findings provide a more granular understanding of the variables associated with reductions in prescription drug use and improvements in quality of life associated with medical cannabis in a number of different contexts,” the study states.
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