Can CBD Aid in Alleviating Opioid Addiction?

Key Takeaways:

  • Cannabidiol (CBD), which is derived from the cannabis plant, could help suppress cravings associated with opioid addiction according to recent research.
  • The study involved 42 participants with a history of heroin use who were shown neutral and drug-related stimuli after being given either a CBD solution or a placebo. The results showed that CBD reduced drug cue-induced cravings and anxiety.
  • Alternative treatments for opioid addiction are drastically needed given the current opioid epidemic in the United States. Current treatments, methadone and buprenorphine, carry their own risks and stigmas, and many individuals suffering from opioid addiction choose not to utilize them.
  • The initial research into CBD as a treatment for opioid addiction has been promising, leading to further investigations into how CBD impacts the brain and the potential development of CBD-based treatments for opioid addiction.

Cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD, has been under the spotlight for some time now as a likely remedy for a variety of conditions ranging from epilepsy to anxiety. Recent research suggests that it might also be effective in suppressing the cravings associated with opioid addiction.

CBD, akin to marijuana, is derived from the cannabis plant, yet it doesn’t lead to a high as pot does.

Contextualizing CBD in Opioid Addiction Research

The study involved 42 individuals, both men and women, with a history of heroin use but were not under its influence currently. Heroin is recognized as an illegal opioid, and other opioids comprise potent prescribed painkillers such as oxycodone, also known as OxyContin.

In the experiment, participants either received an oral CBD solution or an inactive placebo. Following this, they were shown video content that contained neutral and drug-related stimuli. Neutral stimuli included soothing scenes like landscapes, while drug-related cues involved sketchy representations of drug usage like scenes of IV drug use and heroin-related objects like syringes.

The Role of CBD in Curtailing Heroin Cravings

Findings of the research highlight that CBD, as opposed to a placebo, lessened drug cue-induced cravings and anxiety in the study participants.

Expert Yasmin Hurd, the first author of the research study, and director of the Addiction Institute in a city in New York, affirms the promising potential CBD has for treating those with heroin usage disorders.

“A successful non-opioid medication would supplement the existing addiction medication palette significantly to curtail the increasing death toll, immense health care costs, and treatment limitations imposed by stringent government regulations during this continuous opioid epidemic,” Hurd said in a press release.

Why Research into Alternate Treatments for Opioid Addiction is Critical

The United States is grappling with an opioid epidemic that has taken more than 300,000 lives since its onset. Two current treatments for opioid addiction are methadone and buprenorphine, operating on the same opioid receptors as heroin and other opioids.

These treatments, unfortunately, are subject to stigma, come with their own risk of addiction, and are heavily regulated. Consequently, millions of Americans living with opioid addiction choose not to use them, according to the researchers.

This situation underscores the pressing need to explore other treatments, as per the researchers.

The research report was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Currently, Hurd’s team is conducting two subsequent studies; one focusing on how CBD impacts the brain and the other aims to further the development of CBD-based treatments for opioid addiction.

Additional Resources

If you’re looking for more information, check out this comprehensive resource on opioid addiction provided by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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