Pubdate: Fri, 31 Mar 2017
Source: Hamilton Spectator (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The Hamilton Spectator
Author: Molly Hayes
Page: A8


Marijuana use could be a predictor for relapse among women undergoing
opioid addiction treatment, a Hamilton study has found.

A research team from McMaster University and St. Joseph's Healthcare
Hamilton recruited 777 participants from Canadian Addiction Treatment
Centre sites across the province as part of an ongoing research file
into the risk factors of addiction.

About 60 per cent of men and 44 per cent of women in methadone
treatment therapy also use cannabis, the study found. The women who
smoked pot, the study found, were 82 per cent more likely to relapse
and use opioids.

Senior study author Zena Samaan - an associate professor of psychiatry
and behavioural neurosciences at McMaster University and a clinician
and researcher at St. Joseph's Healthcare - says there are multiple
hypotheses as to why women seem to be affected differently than men.

"We also found that the women in this sample have more psychological
and physical health problems compared to men. We see the impact of the
(cannabis) on them much worse."

On the eve of marijuana legalization, Samaan says these findings come
at an especially important time.

"One (of the concerns it raises) is that, if women continue to use
cannabis, they're not going to do well in treatment. So what are we
doing? We need to address that specifically."

A major recommendation of the study is that methadone clinicians
screen for marijuana use on top of opioid use - something she says
used to be done, but was largely scrapped due to resource

The study also highlights a need for more comprehensive and
personalized addictions and mental health care, she says, noting that
roughly 80 per cent of the study participants identified as having
mental health issues.

In 2014-2015, according to statistics from the province's Ministry of
Health and Long Term Care, 54,000 people across Ontario were on
methadone treatment.

The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse reports that opioid-related
deaths increased by more than 240 per cent between 1990 and 2010. More
than 700 people died of opioid-related deaths in Ontario in 2015.
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MAP posted-by: Matt