Can CBD ( Cannabidiol ) Help People Treat Opioid Addiction?
CBD ( Cannabidiol ) has been receiving a lot of attention recently as a possible treatment for many ailments such as epilepsy and anxiety. And now, researchers are telling us that it may also help to suppress the cravings that come with opioid addiction.
Just like marijuana, CBD comes from the cannabis plant, but unlike weed, it does not get you high. The study included 42 men and women who had a history of heroin abuse that were not currently using heroin. Heroin, of course, is an illegal opioid, other opioids include things like powerful prescription pain killers like oxycodone or OxyContin. This is one of the most addictive prescription pain killers, we know first hand as it was prescribed for my husband after major knee surgery, fortunately, he got through it with no real problems.
In this study, participants received either an oral CBD solution or a placebo and were then shown videos that contained neutral and drug-related cues. Neutral cues included relaxing scenarios such as scenes of nature, while drug-related cues included scenes of Intravenous drug use and heroin-related items like syringes, rubber ties, and packets of powder.
What the researchers found was that compared to a placebo, CBD actually reduced drug cue-induced cravings and anxiety in those test subjects.
Director of the Addiction Institute at Mout Sinai in New York City Yasmin Hurd explained that “Our findings indicate that CBD holds significant promise for treating individuals with heroin use disorder”. In a Mount Sinai news release, Hurd said that “A successful non-opioid medication would add significantly to the existing addiction medication toolbox to help reduce the growing death toll, enormous health care costs, and treatment limitations imposed by stringent government regulations amid this persistent opioid epidemic”.
The United States is struggling with an opioid epidemic that has claimed more than 300,000 lives since it began. Two current opioid addiction treatments are methadone and buprenorphine, which work on the same opioid receptors as heroin and other opioids.
But because these treatments carry such a stigma, come with their own addiction risk and are heavily regulated, millions of Americans with opioid addiction refuse to use them according to the studies authors, and that’s why there is an urgent need to find other treatments the researchers noted.
Hurd’s team is now working on two follow-up studies, one to examine how CBD affects the brain, and another to pursue the development of CBD-based treatments for opioid addiction.