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Marijuana use is associated with an increased risk of prescription opioid misuse and use disorders

Science Spotlight

September 26, 2017

Photo of marijuana leaves Photo by NIDA

New research suggests that marijuana users may be more likely than nonusers to misuse prescription opioids and develop prescription opioid use disorder. The study was conducted by researchers at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health, and Columbia University.

The investigators analyzed data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, which interviewed more than 43,000 American adults in 2001-2002, and followed up with more than 34,000 of them in 2004-2005. The analysis indicated that respondents who reported past-year marijuana use in their initial interview had 2.2 times higher odds than nonusers of meeting DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for prescription opioid use disorder by the follow-up. They also had 2.6 times greater odds of initiating prescription opioid misuse, defined as using a drug without a prescription, in higher doses, for longer periods, or for other reasons than prescribed.

A number of recent papers suggest that marijuana may reduce prescription opioid addiction and overdoses by providing an alternate or complementary pain relief option. That suggestion is partly based on comparisons of aggregate data from states that legalized marijuana for medical use vs. those that didn’t. In contrast, the current study focuses on individual marijuana users vs. nonusers and their trajectories with regard to opioid misuse and disorders. These findings are in-line with previous research demonstrating that people who use marijuana are more likely than non-users to use other drugs and develop problems with drug use.

For a copy of the paper, go to – "Cannabis Use and Risk of Prescription Opioid Use Disorder in the United States" – published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

For information about the link between marijuana use and increased risk of addiction to other drugs, go to: www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/latest-science/marijuana-use-raises-sud-risk.

For more information, contact the NIDA press office at media@nida.nih.gov or 301-443-6245. Follow NIDA on Twitter and Facebook

Contact:
NIDA Press Office
301-443-6245
media@nida.nih.gov

About the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug use and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to inform policy, improve practice, and advance addiction science. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs and information on NIDA research and other activities can be found at www.drugabuse.gov, which is now compatible with your smartphone, iPad or tablet. To order publications in English or Spanish, call NIDA’s DrugPubs research dissemination center at 1-877-NIDA-NIH or 240-645-0228 (TDD) or email requests to drugpubs@nida.nih.gov. Online ordering is available at drugpubs.drugabuse.gov. NIDA’s media guide can be found at www.drugabuse.gov/publications/media-guide/dear-journalist, and its easy-to-read website can be found at www.easyread.drugabuse.gov. You can follow NIDA on Twitter and Facebook.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

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    NIDA. (2017, September 26). Marijuana use is associated with an increased risk of prescription opioid misuse and use disorders. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2017/09/marijuana-use-associated-increased-risk-prescription-opioid-misuse-use-disorders

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