Is marijuana use associated with decreased use of prescription opioids? Toxicological findings from two US national samples of drivers
State governments in the United States are increasingly viewing marijuana legalization as a policy option for controlling the opioid epidemic under the premise that marijuana is a less harmful substitute for opioids. The purpose of this study is to assess whether marijuana use is associated with decreased odds of prescription opioid use.
A cross-sectional study design was applied to toxicological testing data from two national samples of drivers: 1) the 2011–2016 Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and 2) the 2013–2014 National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers (NRS). Adjusted odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) estimated from multivariable logistic regression models were used to assess the associations of marijuana use with prescription opioid use and alcohol use.
Among the 47,602 drivers from the FARS, 15.7% tested positive for marijuana and 6.9% positive for prescription opioids. Compared with drivers testing negative for marijuana, those testing positive for marijuana were 28% more likely to test positive for prescription opioids (adjusted OR = 1.28, 95% CI = 1.15–1.42). Among the 7881 drivers from the NRS, 7.9% tested positive for marijuana and 4.5% positive for prescription opioids. Relative to drivers testing negative for marijuana, those testing positive for marijuana were twice as likely to test positive for prescription opioids (adjusted OR = 2.03, 95% CI = 1.29–3.20). In both study samples, marijuana use was associated with significantly increased odds of alcohol positivity.
Drivers who test positive for marijuana are significantly more likely to test positive for prescription opioids. Longitudinal studies with rigorous designs and toxicological testing data are needed to further address the substitution hypothesis between marijuana and prescription opioids.
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Also Published In
- Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy
More About This Work
- Published Here
- December 20, 2022
Alcohol, Harm reduction, Marijuana, Prescription opioids, Substitution