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CBD oil is beginning to receive a lot more attention, as more states legalize marijuana products. Clinical trials have indicated that CBD may be a potential treatment for many conditions, including epilepsy and anxiety. Now, a recent study reports it might also help curb opioid cravings.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical component found in marijuana. Unlike other marijuana compounds such as THC, CBD does not get people high. Instead, CBD is known for its inhibitory response, which results in analgesic (pain relief) and anti-anxiety effects.
CBD Oil: What Is It And How Can It Treat Opioid Addiction?
These results have many healthcare professionals questioning: Can CBD be used to curb the opioid epidemic? Experts believe that due to the limited non-opioid medication options, the need for new alternatives is more important than ever.
“CBD may have a role in helping in all three phases, but we don’t know for sure,” said Dr. Danesh Alam, medical director of behavioral health at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital, “We have so much to learn about its [CBD] role in anxiety and addiction in general.”
Because opioid addiction is challenging to study, researchers often have to look at the specific symptoms, which tend to occur in three phases: intoxication, dependence, and relapse.
This was a randomized clinical trial with 42 participants who received one of two different CBD medication doses or a placebo once daily for 3 days and were then exposed to drug-related or neutral cues to see whether CBD could reduc e opioid cravings and anxiety – factors strongly associated with relapse to opioid use .
In the past decade, there has been an unprecedented spike in opioid use disorde r , which has led to more than 300,000 opioid-related deaths in the United States . O pioid use disorder medications such as methadone and buprenorphine (often prescribed in a formulation with naloxone , known by the brand name S uboxone ) help reduce opioid use and reduce risk for opioid-involved overdoses . In some areas, however, t hese medications are often underutilized and therefore can be difficult to access, creating a treatment gap in which those who need medications face barriers to actually receiving them. Further, 20-40% of opioid use disorder patients do not want to take agonist treatments .
HOW WAS THIS STUDY CONDUCTED?
One of the hypothesized factors contributing to these barriers is that methadone and Suboxone can be misused or diverted because they can produce euphoria . Consequently, discovering effective alternative medications that can also treat opioid use disorder that circumvent concerns about their psychoactive properties could help more of those affected . To address this problem , the authors investigated whether the cannabinoid , CBD , which is thought to be safe and non-addictive, could be useful in the treatment of opioid use disorder .
I ndividuals receiving the non-psychoactive cannabinoid CBD medication reported less craving after being exposed to drug cues compared with i ndividuals receiving placebo . This effect lasted at least a week after the CBD or placebo administration, when i ndividuals receiving the high-dose of CBD (but not the low-dose) still reported less craving compared with those receiving placebo . In addition, CBD reduced measures of stress response after the drug cue – such as heart rate and salivary cortisol increases . I ndividuals receiving CBD reported less anxiety after being exposed to drug cues compared with i ndividuals receiving placebo (though t here w ere no significant difference s in anxiety between participants receiving the low-dose vs . the high-dose of CBD ) . There was no effect of CBD on positive affect or on any cognitive measures.
Participants were recruited through advertisements. Most participants indicated preference for intranasal heroin use, most reported currently using more than 10 bags of heroin (one bag = 1 g) daily, and on average, participants had been using heroin for over 10 years. The majority of participants (64.3%) had been abstinent from heroin use for less than 1 month.