Cannabis and Opioid Addiction: What You Need to Know

Experts State Insufficient Evidence for Cannabis as a Cure for Opioid Addiction; Uncertainty Remains about the Connection between Cannabis Use and Opioid Relapse

Can cannabis aid in the treatment of opioid addiction?

Clumps of cannabis on a factory assembly line

Image source: Medical News Today

We often hear about the potential benefits of cannabis, but can it actually help with opioid addiction? 🌿💊

As a medical expert in the fields of care, dietary health, and mental health, I’m here to delve into the latest research on cannabis and its impact on opioid addiction. Let’s separate fact from fiction and explore what science has to say about this controversial topic. 🕵️‍♀️📚

The Conflicting Evidence

While cannabis is being touted as a powerful treatment option for pain and a range of disorders, its role in treating opioid addiction remains uncertain. Researchers have found conflicting evidence when it comes to whether cannabis alleviates pain and withdrawal symptoms or increases the likelihood of relapse to opioids. 🚫🌼

In a recent study published in The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, researchers reviewed data from thousands of individuals undergoing treatment for opioid use disorder. Their conclusion? Cannabis has “no significant effect on people’s use of opioids, taken outside of medical guidance.” So, the efficacy of cannabis in reducing non-medical opioid use is yet to be confirmed. 📊🔬

Understanding Opioids

Before we dive deeper into the research, let’s clarify what opioids are. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opioids include prescription drugs such as OxyContin, Vicodin, morphine, and methadone, as well as illegal substances like heroin and fentanyl. Opioids are powerful painkillers but can also be highly addictive. The United States is currently facing an opioid crisis, with opioids implicated in a staggering 75% of all drug overdose deaths in 2021. 📉💊

Examining the Cannabis and Opioid Addiction Study

The study in question aimed to test the popular notion that cannabis could help individuals overcome their opioid addiction. The research team, led by Dr. Joao P. De Aquino from Yale University School of Medicine, analyzed data from over 8,000 individuals receiving medication for opioid use disorder. They found no significant association between cannabis use and non-medical opioid use among these individuals. 🧪🌿

While these findings challenge the practice of enforcing cannabis abstinence as a prerequisite for opioid misuse treatment, some experts have criticized the study design. Dr. Sherry Yafai, an emergency medicine physician, noted that various factors such as dosage, type of cannabis used, and levels of THC (the active ingredient) were not adequately accounted for in the study. Additionally, the absence of medical guidance during cannabis use and different patterns of usage among individuals further complicate the interpretation of the results. 🔬🧪

The Medical Uses of Cannabis

Despite the ongoing debate around cannabis and its impact on opioid addiction, many physicians and patients have reported positive outcomes when incorporating cannabis into treatment regimens. In his book, The Doctor-Approved Cannabis Handbook, Dr. Benjamin Caplan shares that nine out of ten patients who regularly consume opioids experience a significant reduction in reliance on these medications with the addition of cannabis. According to Caplan, cannabis offers a gentler and more manageable form of relief, providing patients with a greater sense of control and potentially helping break the cycle of opioid addiction. 📚🌱

Q&A: Addressing Your Concerns

🌿 Q: What are the potential medical uses of cannabis beyond opioid addiction? A: Cannabis is known to have therapeutic properties and has been used for pain management, reducing inflammation, relieving anxiety, and treating conditions such as epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. Research is ongoing to explore its efficacy in various medical scenarios.

💊 Q: Are there any risks or side effects associated with using cannabis for pain management instead of opioids? A: While cannabis is generally well-tolerated, it can cause side effects such as dry mouth, dizziness, and impaired coordination. It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional who can guide you on the appropriate use and potential risks of cannabis-based treatments.

🎯 Q: Can cannabis be considered a substitute for medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder? A: MAT, which involves medications such as buprenorphine, methadone, or naltrexone, is considered the standard of care for opioid use disorder. While some individuals may find cannabis helpful in managing their symptoms, it should not replace the comprehensive treatment provided through MAT. Always consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice.


The relationship between cannabis and opioid addiction is complex and warrants further investigation. While the latest study suggests no clear impact of cannabis on reducing non-medical opioid use, individual responses may vary. It is crucial for healthcare professionals to adopt personalized treatment approaches that consider each patient’s unique circumstances, including cannabis use disorder, pain management needs, and co-occurring psychiatric conditions. As the scientific community continues to uncover new insights, it’s essential to rely on evidence-based practices and consult with experts in the field. 🌱💪

📚 References: – Cannabis Has No Clear Effect on Treatment of Opioid Addiction, Study FindsTreatment of Opioid Use DisorderThe Opioid CrisisThe Medical Uses of Cannabis

👨‍⚕️ Remember, always consult with a healthcare professional before changing or starting any treatment regimen. Stay informed and make decisions based on credible and up-to-date information. Share this article with others to spread knowledge and contribute to the ongoing conversation around cannabis and opioid addiction. 🌿💪

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.