Further Evidence for Cannabis as an Adjunctive Therapy to Opioids

Effects of cannabinoid administration for pain- A meta-analysis and meta-regression

In Summary

A recent meta-analysis provided further evidence that cannabis can be used as a replacement and adjunctive therapy option for opioids. Across all of the studies, it was found that cannabis had a medium-to-large effect on the subjective pain felt. The included studies included a range of given doses, all reported in milligrams and were conducted in various pain models, including Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Cancer, Neuropathic Pain, Diabetes, and more. Further research is needed to standardize an appropriate dose for each condition and ensure the validity of such medications. 

The authors take care to emphasize the need for alternative pain therapies for opioids that are safer and more economically responsible. Currently, pain-related costs from patients, caretakers, and healthcare facilities continue to grow beyond $600-billion annually, as more people grow dependent on opioids. Cannabis is much more cost-effective, and even if it does not entirely replace opioid therapies and is simply an adjunct therapy, it has the potential to greatly reduce the amount of opioid prescribed and lower the necessary dose. Opioids are highly addictive whereas cannabis has a much better safety profile, yet cannabis is still deemed medically irrelevant by the federal government. More research needs to be conducted to reduce the chance of addiction, the opioid crisis in general, and reduce the economic burden of pain-related costs in the United States. 

The study is available for review or download here

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Benjamin Caplan, MDFurther Evidence for Cannabis as an Adjunctive Therapy to Opioids

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