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Can Cannabis Really Help Detox From Oxycontin? Experts Weigh In

By Marta Manning
Medically Reviewed by Jennifer Casarella, MD on December 09, 2021
OxyContin detox can be an uncomfortable and frightening experience. Find out if cannabis products can help.

Researchers are investigating the potential many benefits of cannabis and CBD oil. CBD and medical cannabis products have been used to help with pain, anxiety, and sleep problems, among other ailments. But can cannabis products help you successfully detox from OxyContin? While there are some promising studies, more research is needed in order to quantify the efficacy of cannabis as an opioid withdrawal aid. We asked medical experts to weigh in.

CBD Oil and OxyContin Detox

When you detox from opioid drugs like OxyContin, your body experiences withdrawal. According to information and analytics company Elsevier, symptoms of withdrawal can last for 10 days. The National Drug Intelligence Center reports OxyContin withdrawal can cause uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous symptoms, including the following:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Cold flashes
  • Restlessness
  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Inability to sleep

A 2020 survey published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment found that 62%8 of people detoxing from opioids such as OxyContin experienced relief from withdrawal symptoms like insomnia, anxiety, and tremors when using cannabis.

“Both cannabis and CBD are commonly used to treat these symptoms and can be very beneficial to patients while detoxing to make it easier for them to complete the detox,” anesthesiologist and pain medicine physician Anand Dugar, MD, tells WebMD Connect to Care. “In addition, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania specifically allow patients with an opiate disorder to become medical cannabis patients because of the benefit of medical cannabis in helping these patients wean off opiates.”

Drug cravings are a major hurdle for people detoxing from OxyContin and other opioids, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. According to a 2019 study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, CBD oil significantly reduced cravings and anxiety in patients detoxing from opioid drugs. Reduced cravings can not only make the detox experience more tolerable but can also decrease the chance of relapse.

“Although further research is needed, in select populations that include addictions to alcohol, opioids or other substances, medical cannabis may dampen the behaviors that contribute to relapse,” physician and Cannalogue CEO Mohan Cooray, MD, FRCPC, tells WebMD Connect to Care.

One of the current research gaps is the lack of randomized double-blinded placebo-controlled trials demonstrating that cannabis can effectively reduce the effects of opioid withdrawal. Randomized double-blinded placebo-controlled trials are a gold standard of epidemiologic studies.

These types of studies enroll human participants and randomly divide them into two groups: The control group receives a placebo while the experimental group receives the medication being tested, but participants do not know which group they are in. This helps researchers establish the effectiveness of tested medications as they track each group. 

It's also important to know that cannabis use can come with its own risks. Mayo Clinic notes that some potential problems that can occur with cannabis use include:

  • Unpredictable dosing standards depending on cannabis strain
  • Different standards of legality, depending on location
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth and dry eyes
  • Drowsiness and fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Increased heart rate

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