Categories
BLOG

can you smoke weed on oxycodone

Combining opioids and marijuana may be advantageous for pain sufferers

Study suggests using the two drugs together could reduce risk of dependency without causing cognitive problems

Researchers report combining cannabinoids with morphine did not significantly increase impulsivity or memory impairment in a study conducted in rhesus monkeys. The findings suggest using opioids and marijuana together could offer a safe way to cut opioid dosage among patients suffering from pain and thereby reduce their risk of becoming addicted to opioids.

“These data provide additional evidence supporting the notion that opioid-cannabinoid mixtures that are effective for treating pain do not have greater, and in some cases have less, adverse effects compared with larger doses of each drug alone,” said Vanessa Minervini, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Minervini will present the research at the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics annual meeting during the 2019 Experimental Biology meeting, held April 6-9 in Orlando, Fla.

Previous studies have suggested the cannabinoids in marijuana enhance some of the pain-relieving effects of opioid drugs but do not enhance effects related to addiction and overdose. However, both drugs individually are known to slightly impair cognition, leading to a concern that such side effects could be amplified if opioids and marijuana are used together. Researchers say the new study offers encouraging evidence this is not the case.

The research comes amid a national opioid abuse crisis in which many addictions start with opioids prescribed for pain. At the same time, marijuana use is on the rise as more states legalize the drug for medical or recreational use.

“The current opioid epidemic underscores the need for safe and effective pharmacotherapies for treating pain,” said Minervini. “Combining opioid receptor agonists with drugs that relieve pain through actions at non-opioid mechanisms (for example, cannabinoid receptors) could be a useful strategy for reducing the dose of opioid needed to achieve pain relief.”

The researchers gave several monkeys moderate doses of morphine and CP55940, a synthetic drug that mimics the activity of the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) naturally found in marijuana. They assessed impulsivity and memory with tests involving touchscreens and treats. The results showed each drug impeded performance and that giving the monkeys both drugs together had a lower effect on performance than either drug alone.

While clinical trials would need to be conducted to confirm whether these results translate to humans, monkeys tend to process drugs similarly to humans and are considered a good model for cognition.

Researchers report combining cannabinoids with morphine did not significantly increase impulsivity or memory impairment in a study conducted in rhesus monkeys. The findings suggest using opioids and marijuana together could offer a safe way to cut opioid dosage among patients suffering from pain and thereby reduce their risk of becoming addicted to opioids.

Opioids vs. Marijuana: Which Is More Dangerous?

Marijuana is classified as a more serious drug by federal officials, but some experts say prescription painkillers do more damage to our society.

What would you rather have your kid hooked on?

Prescription pills or marijuana?

A lot of parents might lean toward those prescription painkillers that they themselves use.

But are medications such as oxycodone and hydrocodone really the lesser of two evils?

Both marijuana and prescription opioids have been targeted by the White House.

The Trump administration has made it clear there will be renewed scrutiny of marijuana laws.

In particular, recreational marijuana laws are being targeted for “greater enforcement,” according to White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions also opposes recreational marijuana.

President Trump has also promised to do something about the opioid epidemic sweeping across the country.

However, the Republican health plan he supports reduces funding for a lot of addiction recovery programs.

With the debate over the health effects of both marijuana and prescription painkillers, you might wonder which is actually doing more harm to the United States?

Healthline decided to take an in-depth look.

Although eight states have passed laws legalizing recreational marijuana use, and 29 states have legalized medical marijuana, federal law still labels marijuana as an illegal substance.

The DEA classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, defined as having no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Other Schedule 1 drugs include LSD and heroin.

On the other hand, Schedule 2 drugs, which include crystal methamphetamine and cocaine, have been accepted as medical treatments in the United States.

Prescription opioids, which include morphine, fall into this category of drugs — legal when prescribed by medical personnel.

Dr. Thomas Strouse, medical director of the Stewart and Lynda Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), thinks the classifications are a bit ridiculous.

Although marijuana can cause health problems if used in excess, he said, there are no known cases of somebody dying from a marijuana overdose. The same cannot be said for opioids.

The CDC reports that overdose deaths from opioids have quadrupled since 1999. In 2015, more than 15,000 Americans died from overdoses involving prescription opioids. Those prescription pills now account for nearly half of all U.S. overdoses from opioids.

In addition, an average of 1,000 Americans are treated in emergency rooms every day for misusing prescription pills.

Overall, the use of prescription medication far outdistances the use of marijuana.

According to the CDC, doctors in the United States write 259 million opioid prescriptions a year. The sales of these drugs have more than quadrupled since 1999.

As for treatment, Strouse says withdrawal from a marijuana addiction is significantly less severe than withdrawal from an opioid addiction.

Strouse said marijuana’s designation as a Schedule 1 drug has more to do with historical and political reasons than any hard data.

“I believe [the drug classifications] should be based on science,” he told Healthline. “It does not make sense to me that cannabis is a Schedule 1 drug.”

Marijuana won’t kill you. Not from an overdose anyway.

But is it healthy for you?

A recent study sought to qualify the purported harms as well as benefits of marijuana.

Dr. Marie McCormick, professor of maternal and child health in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, professor of pediatrics at the Harvard Medical School, and chair of the study, says the widely cited negative side effects of cannabis are hard to substantiate.

“The classification of cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug makes it very difficult to acquire research-grade samples,” McCormick told Healthline. “There are a lot of questions about the quality of the existing data. Existing studies are variable, even in terms of the concentrations of the cannabis. It’s hard to sort out the data.”

Still, the recent report did determine relationships between smoking marijuana and health problems. According to McCormick, “What appears is that smoking does lead to bronchitis, smoking during pregnancy does lead to lower birth rates, and initiating cannabis use at an early age is a risk factor for problematic use.”

She said there is testing in the workplace, but there’s no data associated with workplace injuries as a consequence of cannabis use.

Even the widespread concern that marijuana causes poor academic performance among young marijuana users isn’t necessarily correct.

“Early use of cannabis leads to academic failure is the assumption,” McCormick says. “But the questions around cannabis use are asked of students retroactively. We don’t know how the student was doing before the cannabis use.”

The literature is mixed on whether marijuana use leads to abuse of other, more harmful drugs.

“Usually they’re talking to someone who has another drug problem and asking what they did before,” McCormick says. “What they don’t know about are the people who start cannabis and don’t go any further. There’s no evidence of it being a gateway drug.”

The report investigated cannabis use and 11 types of health issues, including heart attack and schizophrenia, but could not find strong evidence of a relationship between them.

However, a report released over the weekend at the American College of Cardiology said marijuana use is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

Strouse said that heavy use of marijuana can lead to psychological disorders in some people.

He added that marijuana also can do damage to the developing brains of people under the age of 25.

“The impact of heavy marijuana use on a developing brain is no small matter,” he said.

On the other hand, McCormick’s report did identify several therapeutic uses for cannabis, including treating chronic pain and treating chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting in cancer patients.

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) touts two recent studies involving marijuana and opioids.

The first study, released this month, reports that statewide legislation that permits medical marijuana use is associated with a reduction of opioid-related hospitalizations.

The second story, released last month, states that patients with legal access to medicinal marijuana reduce their use of opioids.

“The data is clear. Cannabis is effective at treating pain, including hard-to-treat pain conditions like neuropathy, and arguably represents a safer alternative to opioids,” Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, told Healthline.

Ultimately, the McCormick report recommends a lot more study, including the development of a standard set of questions to ask research participants so data can be consistent across studies, and a review of marijuana’s status as a Schedule 1 drug.

“As a Schedule 2 drug, cannabis would be treated like opioids like morphine and codeine,” McCormick said.

Marijuana is classified as a more serious drug by federal officials, but some experts say prescription painkillers do more damage to our society.