Medical Cannabis for Alcohol and Opioids Rehabilitation

There is increasing interest in the use of cannabis as a substitute for alcohol, opioids and other drugs, including illicit drugs, both in terms of decreasing drug withdrawal symptoms associated with abstinence from such drugs, but also in the context of decreasing some of the health risks associated with use of these drugs (e.g. opioid-associated morbidity and mortality). In the case of opioids, in vitro and in vivo studies have shown significant physiological and pharmacological overlap, cross-tolerance, mutual potentiation, and cross-talk between the endocannabinoid and the endogenous opioid systems.

In addition, both of these endogenous physiological mechanisms have been implicated in the mechanism of action of several other drugs with abuse and dependence potential such as ethanol, nicotine, and psychostimulants [1].

Some reports suggests that cannabis use could help alleviate opioid withdrawal symptoms, but there is insufficient clinical evidence from which to draw any reliable conclusions [2].


[1] Befort K. Interactions of the opioid and cannabinoid systems in reward: Insights from knockout studies. Front Pharmacol 2015 Feb 5;6:6.

[2] Beth Wiese and Adrianne R. Wilson-Poe. Emerging Evidence for Cannabis' Role in Opioid Use Disorder. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2018; 3(1): 179–189.