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Cannabis a Potential Treatment for Crack Cocaine Disorders, Study Suggests

Findings in a new study suggest that incorporating periods of intentional cannabis use could help those with crack cocaine disorders effectively reduce their frequency of crack use.

Using cannabis may help in the treatment of crack cocaine use disorders, according to a new study published in the April 4 issue of Addictive Behaviors.

A team of researchers, led by Dr. M-J Milloy from the University of British Columbia’s St. Paul’s Hospital, investigated the impacts of intentional cannabis use on the frequency of crack cocaine use among those who use illicit substances. The researchers discovered that following periods of intentionally using cannabis, the frequency of crack cocaine use among participants significantly decreased.

Crack, a highly addictive form of cocaine, is among the most frequently abused drugs in the United States. Addiction to crack develops rapidly, and in some cases can take hold after the very first use. In 2006, crack cocaine was the primary drug of abuse in 178,475 admissions to addiction treatment centers in the U.S.

Dr. Milloy and the other researchers used data from three prospective Vancouver-based cohort studies that investigated the intentional use of cannabis to control crack use between 2012 and 2015. They then used adjusted analyses to compare the frequency of crack use before, during, and after intentional periods of cannabis use.

The researchers found that the frequency of crack use was significantly lower after the intentional periods of cannabis use compared to before. The frequency of crack use during the intentional period of cannabis use, however, was found to be not significantly different.

Following the periods of intentional cannabis use, the frequency of cannabis use remained higher compared to before. However, the frequency of cannabis use was lower than during the intentional cannabis use periods. The findings are promising, especially considering cannabis’ excellent safety profile.

As of now, there are no available treatment medications that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat crack cocaine disorders. The new study’s findings are the latest to suggest that cannabis may help in the treatment of drug addictions by reducing cravings. One earlier study found that cannabis effectively reduced the craving symptoms and helped cease the use of crack in 68 percent of crack abusers. There’s evidence that cannabinoids are able to modulate the urge for cocaine through their interactions with the endocannabinoid system’s CB2 receptors. Cannabis has also demonstrated effectiveness at helping to reduce tobacco, alcohol, and opioid use.

You can access Dr. Milloy’s entire study, “Intentional cannabis use to reduce crack cocaine use in a Canadian setting: A longitudinal analysis,” via Science Direct.

With his home country of Canada set to legalize recreational marijuana next year, Dr. Milloy, is now leading a new study examining how Canadians use cannabis. The goal of the research is to provide baseline data for monitoring the impacts of legalization and to better inform the creation of the new public health framework.

Learn more about cannabis’ potential therapeutic application for addressing addiction by visiting our education page.

Medical Marijuana Research