“If the piece of the withdrawal you’re experiencing is anxiety, maybe [cannabis] can help you.”
There is, however, no evidence that cannabis combined with methadone is harmful. This is why, in the era of medical marijuana, there is little point in even testing for THC in OTPs, and in fact the federal government doesn’t recommend it after the patient’s first visit. Outmoded and outdated state regulations need to be fixed.
What Federal Rules Say—And Don’t
“Conquering an opioid addiction is no easy feat for someone chemically handcuffed to narcotic medicines,” said Benjamin Caplan, MD, founder of the CED Foundation and a physician who treats patients at the CED clinic. “In states with medicinal cannabis as an option, we see strong evidence of better results for recovery from opiates: fewer prescriptions, better pain management, less suffering, and better quality of life.”
But there is pushback — don’t assume that the federal government supports cannabis for people with OUDs. The SAMHSA letter expresses plenty of concern about potential harms related to marijuana use. And while some states have decreed that cannabis can be used instead of opioid agonists to treat opioid use disorders, this has prompted SAMHSA head Elinore McCance-Katz, MD, PhD, as well as OTPs, to disagree.
M arijuana, which is now legal for medical use in 33 states and counting, can help treat pain — something which opioids also treat. But people with opioid use disorders (OUDs), including those getting treatment with methadone or buprenorphine, may have a hard time getting the pain relief they need (and these days, even people without OUDs have a hard time getting pain relief).
University of Alberta and University of Calgary provide funding as members of The Conversation CA-FR.
“CBD’s potential to reduce cue-induced craving and anxiety provides a strong basis for further investigation of this phytocannabinoid as a treatment option for opioid use disorder.”
The researchers concluded:
Crucially, this means that we need many more studies and funded research to fully understand exactly how CBD might play a role in the treatment of opioid use disorder.
Opioid agonist treatments are particularly helpful for the mitigation of opioid cravings and withdrawal. Another therapeutic effect of opioid agonist treatments is that they help people in recovery maintain some level of tolerance to opioids, which is helpful for preventing overdose in the event of relapse.