Link found with marijuana, non-adherence

Marijuana use and prescription drug non-adherence linked

A recent study has identified an interesting lineage between marijuana use and inappropriate appropriation of prescription pain medications and other prescriptive supplements.

According to the research, conducted by Ameritox, those who test positive for marijuana consumption tend to have a higher propensity toward non-adherence when using a prescribed painkiller such as hydrocodone.

"A clinician considering whether to test for marijuana should know that the data strongly suggests that marijuana use is associated with an increased risk of potential prescription drug non-adherence," said Ameritox Chief Medical Officer Harry Leider, MD, in a prepared statement.

Scientists looked at more than 100,000 urine samples from patients across the United States who were prescribed hydrocodone marketed under the names Vicodin, Lorcet, Lortab and more. Of those samples that showed marijuana usage, 36.5 percent were not taking their prescribed hydrocodone. On the other hand, of those patients who did not have marijuana present in their system, only 29.7 percent weren’t taking their painkiller as prescribed.

Furthermore, the study found that 29.1 percent of samples with marijuana present and 29.9 percent of samples with cocaine present also contained an additional non-prescribed medication, most commonly a tranquilizer; for patients without illicit drugs in their systems, only 22 percent showed the presence of a non-prescribed drug inhabitance.

"Evidence of marijuana use on a urine drug test can be as much of a red flag as a positive cocaine test that a patient's use of prescription narcotics requires close monitoring," Leider concluded.

The results were shared at the American Academy of Pain Medicine’s annual meeting in Florida on April 12.

Find a complete layout of the results here.