Cannabis could have the power to help crack cocaine addicts overcome their deadly drug dependency
Smoking cannabis could help crack cocaine addicts to overcome their dependency, new research implies.
The study suggests that the world’s most popular recreational drug is an effective, but unconventional, substitute for the deadly rock.
If the findings prove true in further trials, it could lead to the herb being used in similar vain to methadone for heroin addicts.
Currently there are no effective means of helping users of the drug who are wanting to battle their continuous cravings, researchers say.
Experts recently warned of their detection of fentanyl, similar to morphine but up to 100 times more powerful, in batches of crack.
Health officials in British Columbia, Canada, believe this could be exacerbating the problem of opiod overdoses – which killed nearly 1,000 people last year – in the region.
On a wider level, this problem is responsible for 70,000 deaths across the world each year, the World Health Organisation says.
But this isn’t the only threat users of the short-lived stimulant face, as sharing pipes can pass on HIV and hepatitis C.
Long-term side effects of regularly smoking the drug, which is said to be one of the most powerful illegal substances, are dangerous to the body.
They include a heightened risk of heart attacks, malnutrition and even severe bouts of depression – which can lead to suicide.
Researchers at the BC Centre on Substance Use in Vancouver found addicts who chose to smoke cannabis to limit their crack usage took less of the drug.
This tactic helped slash the amount of daily crack users from 35 per cent to just 20 per cent, they wrote in a piece for The Conversation.
Their findings were drawn from a survey of 122 crack users in a downtown suburb of the city where the drug, made of powdered cocaine and bicarbonate of soda, is commonplace.
Ian Hamilton, a cannabis researcher at the University of York, spoke of his excitement at the findings which mirror other studies.
He told MailOnline: ‘This study adds to the increasing evidence that cannabis could have the potential to treat many health related problems.
‘Many of these patients have found that cannabis helps to relieve withdrawal symptoms and improve their chances of becoming abstinent.
‘It is important that we listen to these patients and investigate rigorously the potential benefits of using cannabis to aide their recovery.’
However, he critiqued current laws surrounding cannabis in the UK which make further research difficult.
The findings of the new study were presented last week at the Harm Reduction Conference in Montreal.