Cannabis Use Associated With Greater Adherence To Heroin Treatment, Study Says

New York, NY: Drug treatment subjects who use cannabis intermittently are more likely to adhere to treatment for opioid dependence, according to clinical trial data to be published in the July/August issue of the American Journal on Addictions.

Investigators at the New York State Psychiatric Institute examined a previously observed association between moderate cannabis use and improved retention in naltrexone treatment among subjects in an inpatient detoxification program.

Naltrexone is an opioid receptor antagonist that is commonly prescribed in the management of heroin dependence, as well as for the management of alcoholism.

Researchers reported: “Intermittent cannabis users showed superior retention in naltrexone treatment, compared to abstinent or consistent users. … Intermittent cannabis use was also associated with greater adherence to naltrexone pill-taking. … The association between moderate cannabis use and improved retention on naltrexone treatment was replicated.”

Commenting on the study, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “Rather than imply that marijuana is a ‘gateway’ to the use of other illicit drugs, this study shows that cannabis can be a useful tool to assist addicts kick their dependency to heroin, morphine, and other opioids.”

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: Full text of the study, “Intermittent marijuana use is associated with improved retention in naltrexone treatment for opiate-dependence,” will appear in the American Journal on Addiction.