needing anesthesia for surgery

Can Marijuana Use Interfere with Surgical Interventions?

With marijuana being legalized in many states, there are new complications for health providers across the United States. The dilemma they now face is based on research that shows marijuana use may impact responses to anesthesia on the operating table and a person’s history of drug use may either help or hinder symptoms. When it comes to surgical interventions to save a person’s life, marijuana use may have detrimental effects.


There may be an increased risk for people who use marijuana consistently when it comes to needing anesthesia for surgery. If a person uses marijuana and needs more anesthesia, there may be an increased risk of breathing problems. There may be more costs to medication received as well as post-surgical complications. There is not much known about this as research is sparse. However, what is known is that people like to hide their history of drug use from family. They like to cover up drug use and not tell anyone so, if they get into trouble, they may be likely to not tell medical staff they are using marijuana, which can increase their risk of complications during even minor procedures.

Why Disclosing Use Matters

For people who use marijuana, patients should always disclose any use, past or present, before surgery or procedures. Where marijuana is illegal, they may not want to disclose use for fear of repercussions. If a person is in recovery and relapses, they may not want anyone to know about it. People who use marijuana can be tolerant of common anesthesia drugs but higher doses may increase the risk of side effects like low blood pressure and depressed heart function. The stigma is not the point of divulging this information. It is just about making sure to provide safe care. People who use marijuana are more tolerant of common drugs, which help people fall asleep or stay relaxed during sedation. People who smoke marijuana may limit their airway flow and irritate it, like someone who smokes. Anesthesia must be adjusted to accommodate people of all sorts and prepare anesthesiologists to adapt and make procedures safe for everyone. 

Post-Op Recovery

When people use cannabis instead of opioids, they may opt for that to treat postoperative pain. Marijuana use to relieve pain after surgical interventions are common. Chronic marijuana use can lead to tolerance to pain medication from other types of drugs so that they are not as effective. This leads to higher doses of pain medication or discomfort, so that the person may lean into other drugs as a crutch to cope with pain and continue their downward spiral. This challenge is difficult for people to overcome unless they seek professional help to deal with their addiction. 

Oceanfront helps people cope with drug addiction and abuse on multiple levels. We are founded on the principle of providing the best in care and services at affordable prices. We are located in beautiful Laguna Beach. Call us to find out how we can help you navigate addiction recovery: 888-981-4295