According to previous research, marijuana’s ability to treat addiction in a myriad of ways has been clearly pointed out. Not only have these prior studies shown how cannabis can be an exit from opioids, it has also been proven to be effective in treating cocaine addiction as well as alcoholism. Maybe this explains why consumers are replacing their prescription pills with cannabis, including those taking anti-anxiety meds.
Newer studies demonstrate that CBD, the non-psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana and hemp, could assist those who have opioid addiction. When the cannabinoid was given to patients with heroin addiction, it seemed to help them experience less cravings when compared to those participants given a placebo. The cannabidiol was also effective in making patients feel more at ease as well as lessening anxiety symptoms.
Addiction Institute of Mount Sinai director Yasmin Hurd:
“The specific effects of CBD on cue-induced drug craving and anxiety are particularly important in the development of addiction therapeutics because environmental cues are one of the strongest triggers for relapse and continued drug use.”
The study, which was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, was a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial involving over 40 men whom had known heroin addictions, but weren’t taking methadone or buprenorphine, two substances known to treat opioid addiction. None of these men were taking heroin or opioids at the time of the study, randomly divided into three groups — one of which taking pills containing 800 mg CBD, another group taking 400 mg CBD pills, and finally the last group got a placebo.
Over the next two weeks, these individuals were shown various images that would test their potential cravings as well as overall mood. Some of the media that participants were subjected to included nature videos while other images were associated with drug use, such as needles or packets filled with substances resembling heroin. After these image tests, individuals were asked to rate their heroin cravings, as well as their anxiety levels.
The groups that had taken CBD reported lower levels of cravings and anxiety on average compared to that of the placebo group. Another note was that the difference between the two CBD groups was minor. In addition to this, more objective measurements like the patient’s heart rate and cortisol levels in saliva were also down.
American Journal of Psychiatry’s Dr. Hurd:
“Our findings indicate that CBD holds significant promise for treating individuals with heroin use disorder. 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.”
While they caution this is an “exploratory” study, the scientific community remains encouraged by the results. To continue their findings, Dr. Hurd and her team will continue to explore CBD’s effects on the brain as well as focus on more specific CBD formulas to treat opioid addiction.