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Pain Med Rx + Medical Cannabis Doesn’t Seem to Up Abuse Risk

But researchers say doctors should be kept informed of dual usage

TUESDAY, May 19, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Medical marijuana users don’t appear to increase their risk for drug or alcohol abuse if they also take prescription pain medications (PPMs), according to research published in the May issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

The study included 273 patients at a medical marijuana clinic in Michigan. More than 60 percent of them had also used PPMs in the past month.

Overall, the medical marijuana users had higher rates of alcohol and drug use than people in the general population. But there was little difference in use of alcohol or other drugs — such as cocaine, sedatives, street opioids like heroin, and amphetamines — between medical marijuana patients who used PPMs and those who did not use PPMs.

“We expected that persons receiving both cannabis and prescription opioids would have greater levels of involvement with alcohol and other drugs,” study coauthor Brian Perron, Ph.D., of the University of Michigan School of Social Work in Ann Arbor, said in a journal news release. “However, that wasn’t the case — although persons who were receiving both medical cannabis and prescription opioids reported higher levels of pain, they showed very few differences in their use of alcohol and other drugs compared to those receiving medical cannabis only.”

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