“Untreated opioid use disorder is a key driver of the overdose crisis in BC and across the United States and Canada, and expanding access to evidence-based addiction care like OAT has been identified as an urgent need and a key part of BC’s response. Research has found that without access to and rapid scale-up of take home naloxone, overdose prevention services, and OAT, the number of overdose deaths in B.C. would be 2.5 times as high. However, while more British Columbians diagnosed with an opioid use disorder are being connected to evidence-based treatments, retention on these medications remains a challenge. People who are retained in OAT face much lower risks of dying from an overdose, acquiring HIV or suffering other harms of drug use compared to people who are out of treatment.

Cannabis may play an important role in supporting retention on OAT. Previous research from the BCCSU found that individuals initiating OAT who reported using cannabis on a daily basis were approximately 21 per cent more likely to be retained in treatment at six months than non-cannabis users. This was the first study to find a beneficial link between high-intensity cannabis use and retention in treatment among people initiating OAT.

The findings published today add to an emerging body of research suggesting cannabis could have a stabilizing impact for many patients on treatment, while also reducing the risk of overdose.”

More on Cannabis could reduce fentanyl use, reduce overdose risk via UBC Medicine News.

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