In a new study, researchers found that people who mix prescription opioids and marijuana for severe pain are more likely to have increased anxiety, depression, and substance abuse issues.
The research was conducted by a team from the University of Houston.
Opioid misuse is a big public health problem and is linked to a host of negative outcomes.
Despite efforts to curb this increasing epidemic, opioids remain the most widely prescribed class of medications.
Prescription opioids are often used to treat chronic pain, despite the risks, and chronic pain remains an important factor in understanding this epidemic.
Given the fact that cannabis potentially has analgesic properties, some people are turning to it to potentially manage their pain.
While the co-use of substances generally is linked to poorer outcomes than single substance use, little work has examined the impact of mixing opioids and cannabis
In the study, the team surveyed 450 adults throughout the United States who had experienced moderate to severe pain for more than three months.
They found not only elevated anxiety and depression symptoms, but also tobacco, alcohol, cocaine and sedative use among adults who added the cannabis to their opioid pain killers, compared with those who used opioids alone.
In addition, no increased pain reduction was reported.
The findings highlight a vulnerable population of people with chronic pain and indicate the need for a more comprehensive test and treatment of chronic pain.
The team says although cannabis may be the new or safer alternative to opioid, mixing it with opioids may bring negative health effects, including mental problems.
People with chronic pain need to talk to their doctors about the best treatment option they can have.
The lead author of the study is Andrew Rogers.
The study is published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine.
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