Pubdate: Tue, 16 May 2017
Source: Metro (Vancouver, CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Metro Canada
Author: Matt Kieltyka
Page: 2
Cited: BC Centre on Substance Use:


Study finds cannabis can be used to help crack addicts

Marijuana could be used to treat people suffering from addictions to
crack cocaine, according to a new study from the BC Centre on
Substance Use (BCCSU).

Dr. M-J Milloy, a research scientist at the BCCSU, told Metro that his
team has seen "significant declines" in daily crack-cocaine use among
a cohort of 122 Vancouver-area people with addictions who reported
substituting the drug with cannabis.

Approximately 35 per cent of the people interviewed initially told
researchers they would use crack cocaine daily.

That number fell to 20 per cent after people used cannabis as a
substitute - a "significant decline," according to the researcher.

"We were a little bit surprised when we found out people were
reporting that they were substituting cannabis for crack cocaine,"
Milloy said.

"We expected that the drug that they would be substituting for would
be heroin or some opioid because both share pain relief

The findings, published in the journal Addictive Behaviors and
presented Tuesday at the 2017 Harm Reduction International Conference
in Montreal, could mark a real breakthrough for the estimated seven
million people with cocaine-use disorder worldwide.

"The findings today are important because there's broad consensus
among us scientists that one of the top priorities in drug research is
developing some sort of medication, some sort of effective treatment
for people suffering from crack-cocaine-use disorder," said Milloy.

"The problem is we don't have a very good medical treatment to offer
people. Unlike opioids, there is no effective substitution therapy
(for cocaine).

"And, of course, in this era of fentanyl when basically every drug
we've seen has been shown to be contaminated, we think it's especially
important to be engaging crack-cocaine users in care. We're hoping we
can test this hypothesis further and see if cannabis can be a good
candidate for that."

Milloy said the risks associated with cannabis use are less severe
than those of harder drugs, such as dependency, overdose and exposure
to HIV.

The centre's findings seem to be building on an emerging global

Research in Jamaica and Brazil, according to the study, has shown
cannabis is "frequently used as a self-medication strategy to reduce
craving and other undesirable effects of crack."

With the new findings in hand, Milloy said his team is now interested
in researching what about cannabis may make it a feasible substitute
for crack-cocaine users and expand on its application in a clinical

"Given the substantial global burden of morbidity and mortality
attributable to crack-cocaine-use disorders alongside a lack of
pharmacotherapies, we echo calls for a rigorous experimental research
on cannabinoids as a potential treatment," the study concludes.
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MAP posted-by: Matt