Chronic pain patients who have chosen medical marijuana as a treatment option have been able to significantly reduce their use of prescription opioids and other drugs, according to a recent study published in JAMA Network Open.
The study looked at 1,724 individuals who self-identified as suffering from chronic pain, and the results showed that more than half of the adults who used cannabis to manage their pain simultaneously reduced their use of opioids, prescription non-opioids and over-the-counter pain relievers.
Nearly 39% of participants also reported that their medical marijuana use led to a reduced need for physical therapy, about 19% said it led to their use of less meditation, and 26% reported a reduced need for cognitive behavioral therapy.
The adults surveyed were 18 years of age or older and live in 36 states (plus Washington, DC) that have medical marijuana programs.
The study looked at individuals who had used medical marijuana to treat pain in the past 30 days, the past 12 months, or never at all.
The researchers said the findings suggest that state medical marijuana programs are working and helping to offer patients an alternative analgesic to treat severe pain.
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws released a statement saying the results should come as no surprise, as legal access to medical marijuana has shown an overall decrease in the use of more harmful prescription drugs.
The group said most patients registered to use medical marijuana in the United States do so for the treatment of chronic pain.