The use of cannabis may impact treatment in women undergoing methadone treatment therapy.
Researchers from McMaster University and St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton have found that women in methadone treatment who use cannabis are 82 percent more likely to continue using opioids. This means that women who use cannabis are at high risk of failing methadone treatment.
‘Women in methadone treatment who use cannabis are 82 percent more likely to continue using opioids. This means that women who use cannabis are at high risk of failing methadone treatment.’
Methadone has been used for decades to treat people who are addicted to heroin and narcotic pain medicines. Methadone works on parts of the brain and spinal cord to block the "high" caused by using opiates (such as heroin). It also helps reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms caused by opiate use. The action of methadone is similar to other synthetic medicines in the morphine category (opioids).
"About 60 percent of men and 44 percent of women who are undergoing methadone treatment therapy also use cannabis. Tailoring treatment to the patient's sex can help us to assess the patient's risk better and deliver more accurate, personalized treatmentsaid" said senior author Zena Samaan.
These findings could influence the way in which women diagnosed with opioid use disorder are treated.
"As cannabis use seems to be a predictor for continuing opioid use despite treatment with methadone, clinicians should screen for cannabis and use these screening results to better plan treatment and resource allocation," said Samaan.