CBD vs. Opioid Addiction

CBD is everywhere, with multiple claims that it can potentially treat everything from anxiety to cancer. However, scientific evidence is still in its infancy phase for this wonder compound. CBD, also known as cannabidiol has shown beneficial promise for some health-related ailments during animal studies. But it wasn’t until the FDA approved the first cannabis-based drug, Epidiolex for the treatment of two types of pediatric epileptic syndromes that a breakthrough in regulation, research, and cannabis occurred.


Now a recent study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that patients treated with cannabidiol (CBD) reported lower cravings for heroin and other opioid dependencies. This is one of the first double-blind controlled trials conducted, which is the gold standard for drug research and is the first to show the benefits of CBD outside of epilepsy treatment. As the United States struggles to find a way to counter the opioid drug epidemic, the new study could provide hope to millions.

The small study included 42 men and women with a history of heroin abuse who were not current users. Heroin is an illegal opioid. Other opioids include the powerful prescription painkiller oxycodone (OxyContin). For the study, participants received either an oral CBD solution or an inactive placebo. The participants were then shown videos that contained neutral visual cues that included relaxing scenarios, such as scenes of nature and drug-related cues that included scenes of IV drug use, and heroin-related items.

The research found that compared to the placebo, participants who received the CBD solution had reduced drug cue-induced craving and anxiety. “Our findings indicate that CBD holds significant promise for treating individuals with heroin use disorder,” said first author Yasmin Hurd, director of the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai in New York City.

“A successful non-opioid medication would add significantly to the existing addiction medication toolbox to help reduce the growing death toll, enormous healthcare costs, and treatment limitations imposed by stringent government regulations amid this persistent opioid epidemic,” she said in a Mount Sinai news release. Currently two opioid addiction treatments are available, methadone and buprenorphine, however, these treatments carry a stigma, have their own addiction risks, and are tightly regulated.

Hurd’s team is now working on two follow-up studies to expand upon the results of the first, which was published May 21, 2019.

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