Could cannabis help keep people in B.C. on treatment for opioid addiction?

Could cannabis help keep people in B.C. on treatment for opioid addiction?

People on opioid agonist treatment face lower risks of overdosing, BC Centre on Substance Use says

One month until marijuana becomes legal across the country, first-of-its-kind research is suggesting that daily use of cannabis could be a strong help in helping British Columbians stay on track with their addiction treatment.

Researchers with the BC Centre on Substance Use and the University of British Columbia interviewed 820 people undergoing opioid agonist treatment (OAT) over a 20-year period between December 1996 and March 2016.

According to the findings, released Thursday, those who said they used cannabis on a daily basis were 21 per cent more likely to still be in methadone or buprenorphine treatment at the six-month mark than non-cannabis users.

The latest findings add to an emerging body of evidence suggesting cannabis may have positive impacts on the health and well being of people who use other substances, especially opioids like oxycodone and fentanyl. The study comes at a time when an average of three people a day are dying of an opioid overdose each day across the province.

READ MORE: B.C. home to 1/3 of Canada’s overdose deaths in first 3 months of the year

READ MORE: Overdose deaths rise during income assistance week in July

“Untreated opioid use disorder is a key driver of the overdose crisis in B.C. and across North America,” said Dr. Eugenia Socias, research scientist at the centre and lead author of the study.

“With cannabis use common among people with opioid use disorder, these findings highlight the urgent need for clinical research to evaluate the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids as adjunctive treatment to OAT to address the escalating opioid overdose epidemic.”

People who stay on opioid agonist treatment face substantially lower risks of dying of an overdose or other causes compared to people who are out of treatment, according to the centre.

Previous research from the centre has also found that using cannabis every day can be linked to a lower risk of starting to inject drugs.

“The therapeutic benefits of cannabis are only just beginning to be understood,” said Dr. M-J Milloy, senior author and research scientist at the centre.

“This research suggests that cannabis could have a stabilizing impact for many patients on treatment, while also reducing the risk of overdose. Further examination of its therapeutic value and clinical application is clearly needed.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Coby Reid helped rescue this bobcat from where it had frozen to the train tracks. Photo: Coby Reid
Bobcat deliverer shares details from Kootenay train track rescue

Coby Reid helped rescue a bobcat that was frozen to train tracks near Waneta bridge

Pictured here are part of the Oxide Leaching crew on Dec. 31, 1944. L-R: Reg Bilkey, Mary Rohacks, Mabel Schiavon, Bill Saitherswaite, Bobby Mason held by Carmela Demeo, Jean Stainton, Skid Marsters, Ingrid “Atty” Atkinson, Andy Adie, and Jessie Woodridge. Photo: Trail Historical Society
Trail Blazers: Pillars of strength – our women

Trail Blazers is a weekly historical feature in partnership with the Trail Museum and Archives

Old growth in burn pile north of Revelstoke. Photo: Wildsight
B.C. old growth and forestry jobs in steep decline

Letter to the Editor from Eddie Petryshen, Wildsight conservation specialist

A drive-thru COVID-19 test site is run from the Trail ICBC office on Highway Drive.
Week 7 with no new COVID cases in Trail/Rossland

The latest localized BCDCD COVID-19 numbers

Police also describe a car crash in the parking lot that sent a woman to the hospital for assessment. Photo: Black Press file
Trail RCMP save senior from losing $10,000 in phone scam

Weekly briefs provided to media by Greater Trail Sgt. Mike Wicentowich

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

A Cowichan Valley mom is wondering why masks haven’t been mandated for elementary schools. (Metro Creative photo)
B.C. mom frustrated by lack of mask mandate for elementary students

“Do we want to wait until we end up like Fraser Health?”

(Pxhere)
B.C. research reveals how pandemic has changed attitudes towards sex, health services

CDC survey shows that 35 per cent of people were worried about being judged

Some Canadians are finding butter harder than usual, resulting in an avalanche of social media controversy around #buttergate. (Brett Williams/The Observer)
#Buttergate: Concerns around hard butter hit small B.C. towns and beyond

Canadians find their butter was getting harder, blame palm oil in part one of this series

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon speaks in the B.C. legislature, describing work underway to make a small business and tourism aid package less restrictive, Dec. 10, 2020. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends deadline for tourism, small business COVID-19 grants

Business owners expect months more of lost revenues

The Black Diamond / PIEPS Avalanche transceivers being recalled. (Image courtesy of PIEPS)
Black Diamond, PIEPS issue recall for avalanche transceivers

PIEPS said that avalanche incidents in 2017 and 2020 had prompted the recall, but defended the product

Anti-pipeline protests continue in Greater Vancouver, with the latest happening Thursday, March 4 at a Trans Mountain construction site in Burnaby. (Facebook/Laurel Dykstra)
A dozen faith-based protestors blockade Burnaby Trans Mountain site in prayer

The group arrived early Thursday, planning to ‘block any further work’

Mid day at the Vancouver Port Intersection blockade on March 3, organized by the Braided Warriors. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
Anti-pipeline blockade at Vancouver intersection broken up by police

Demonstraters were demanding the release of a fellow anti-TMX protester

Most Read