International Overdose Awareness Day aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce stigma of drug-related death. A peer-reviewed study conducted by Philippe Lucas, Tilray’s vice-president of patient research and access, and Zack Walsh at the University of British Columbia, shows that some patients report substituting medical cannabis for opioids. The research is offering potential solutions to the opioid epidemic gripping North America.

The study surveyed Tilray patients, some of whom reported substituting cannabis for prescription drugs. From across Canada, 271 patients responded to the July 2015 survey, which gathered data on demographics, patient experience, patterns of use and the cannabis substitution effect.

The most common form of substitution was for opioids, with 32 per cent of respondents reporting they did so. Patients also reported substituting for benzodiazepines (16%) and antidepressants (12%).

Lucas also published a paper in Harm Reduction Journal earlier this month, which presents an evidence-based rationale for cannabis-based interventions in the opioid overdose crisis informed by research on the substitution effect.

Overdose Day spreads the message that the tragedy of overdose death is preventable. For resources and help for addiction for yourself or a loved one, please visit www.overdoseday.com.