Recreational Drug Use and Surgery

How marijuana use affects surgery and anesthesia

  • >Marijuana use (in any form) and anesthesia both affect the central nervous system, which means you may need higher doses of anesthesia medication when you use marijuana for medical or recreational purposes. This can lead to complications like decreased blood pressure and delayed waking from the procedure.
  • >Marijuana use (either inhaled or edible) can increase postoperative pain, leading to higher use of narcotic pain medications and increasing the risk for opioid use disorder after surgery.
  • >Daily to weekly use of inhaled marijuana affects your lungs and increases sputum, coughing, wheezing, and the risk of lung infection. Coughing associated with regular use increases the risk of abdominal and chest incisions coming apart (known as “dehiscence”).
  • >Inhaled marijuana makes your airway more sensitive and can trigger an asthma-like attack when the breathing tube is used during surgery.
  • >DO NOT smoke or ingest marijuana the day of your surgery.

Harvard Health Publishing: MARIJUANA / CBD
Coming clean: Your anesthesiologist needs to know about marijuana use before surgery
February 03, 2020
David Hepner, MD, MPH

Other recreational drugs and their affect on surgery and anesthesia

  • Stimulants (Amphetamine, Methamphetamine and Cocaine) Use of these stimulants leads to a variety of problems with surgery and anesthesia. These substances put you at increased risk of cardiac events during surgery. If you are a long-time user, your anesthesiologist or surgeon may need to order an echocardiogram (ultrasound of your heart) to determine if your heart is functioning normally before surgery. They also lead to problems with your lungs during surgery, some of which can be life-threatening.
  • Opioids (Heroin, Methadone, Prescription Opioids) Injecting these substances makes it difficult to obtain and keep IV access for your procedure, putting you at risk should you need IV medication during an emergency. Use of opioids makes it difficult to control pain after surgery.

We are not here to judge.

Sharing information with us about your use of recreational substances helps us keep you safe during surgery!