The Impact of Marijuana Use on Medically Assisted Opioid Treatment

Summary and Analysis…

This article begins to report on an aspect of the relationship between cannabis and opioid use, in particular the effect of cannabis on attempts to treat opioid abuse using Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT). In passing it notes that marijuana use disorder is “the second leading reason patients enter addiction treatment.”

More to the point, it summarizes a study based on medical records from 58 clinics utilizing MAT. The study looked at the effect of baseline cannabis use and heavy cannabis use on opioid treatment retention and found “that both groups were at increased risk of treatment dropout (38.9% and 48.1%, respectively).”

The results make it clear that in addition to needing more long term studies on the effects of MAT, studies should also look at possible drug interactions. Additionally, given the liberalization of marijuana laws and a more widespread perception that marijuana is not harmful, additional education about marijuana may be needed for those entering opioid treatment.

Excerpted from RiverMend Health

In this retrospective cohort study, blinded electronic medical records from 58 clinics utilizing MAT were employed to determine how outcomes are impacted by gender. A 12-month treatment retention was the primary end point and the outcome of interest. Data was attained and analyzed for patients based upon the results of their cannabis urine sample in their first month of treatment and subsequent urine samples throughout each patient’s MAT.

Of the 644 study participants, 328 of were classified as baseline cannabis users and 256 as heavy users. The results revealed that both groups were at increased risk of treatment dropout (38.9% and 48.1%, respectively). Analysis of these data by gender revealed that female baseline cannabis users and male heavy cannabis users are at increased risk of premature dropout of MAT.

The research concluded that although both baseline and heavy cannabis use is predictive of decreased treatment retention, differences observed between genders is significant, but the reason for this is not clear.