British Columbia researchers find cannabis may be effective substitute for crack cocaine addicts

published on May 16, 2017 by Matt Kieltyka in Metro News

New study from the BC Centre on Substance Use finds people with addictions to crack cocaine see “significant decline” in use when taking cannabis instead.

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.

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 properties.”

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.”

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