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Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2018 Sep 1;3(1):179-189. doi: 10.1089/can.2018.0022. eCollection 2018.

Emerging Evidence for Cannabis' Role in Opioid Use Disorder.

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Department of Psychology, University of Missouri-St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri.
Department of Anesthesiology, Pain Center, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri.


Introduction: The opioid epidemic has become an immense problem in North America, and despite decades of research on the most effective means to treat opioid use disorder (OUD), overdose deaths are at an all-time high, and relapse remains pervasive. Discussion: Although there are a number of FDA-approved opioid replacement therapies and maintenance medications to help ease the severity of opioid withdrawal symptoms and aid in relapse prevention, these medications are not risk free nor are they successful for all patients. Furthermore, there are legal and logistical bottlenecks to obtaining traditional opioid replacement therapies such as methadone or buprenorphine, and the demand for these services far outweighs the supply and access. To fill the gap between efficacious OUD treatments and the widespread prevalence of misuse, relapse, and overdose, the development of novel, alternative, or adjunct OUD treatment therapies is highly warranted. In this article, we review emerging evidence that suggests that cannabis may play a role in ameliorating the impact of OUD. Herein, we highlight knowledge gaps and discuss cannabis' potential to prevent opioid misuse (as an analgesic alternative), alleviate opioid withdrawal symptoms, and decrease the likelihood of relapse. Conclusion: The compelling nature of these data and the relative safety profile of cannabis warrant further exploration of cannabis as an adjunct or alternative treatment for OUD.


cannabis; opioid addiction; opioid treatment; relapse prevention

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