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Can CBD Really Help Treat Opioid & Drug Addiction?

August 18, 2019
Industry

More than 68,000 people are estimated to have died because of an opioid-related drug overdose in the United States by the end of 2018. Although the report showed a decrease in the numbers compared to the report from 2017, opioid addiction is still a serious matter. In October of 2017, a nationwide Public Health Emergency was declared to address the opioid crisis.

Psychiatrists say that addiction is classified as a disease as it causes alteration to brain functions and processing of thoughts. An individual who is addicted has an irresistible urge despite the catastrophic consequences.

Addiction alters the perception and the behavior of an individual by changing how the brain processes information. People take drugs for different reasons and while some decide to quit, symptoms of opioid withdrawal can happen. These symptoms include anxiety, fast heartbeat, dizziness, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol or CBD is a chemical compound called phytocannabinoid. Even though it is an important element of medical marijuana, CBD is extracted from the hemp plant. Like its sister cannabinoid CBG, CBD is non-psychoactive, which means it doesn’t cause euphoria or a “high”. It works the same as Endocannabinoids found in the human body that assists the brain receptors in controlling different body processes.

The CBD market continues to expand in the past years, because of this, a lot of scientific studies were conducted to confirm and prove its benefits. A few of these benefits include:

  • Help treat anxiety and depression
  • Relieves chronic pain
  • Promotes heart health
  • Exhibits anti-tumor effects
  • Helps prevent diabetes
  • Antipsychotic effects
  • Has antibacterial properties
  • Neuroprotective
  • Treats insomnia

With the benefits mentioned above, researchers saw the potential of CBD in helping with the war against opioid and drug addiction.

Studies on CBD as a solution to addiction by year:

In 2009, a study on rats trained to self-administer heroin was done. These rats exhibit an addict-like behavior. There was no change in the behavior of the rats when it comes to the amount of heroin they ask for or the behavior of seeking heroin. Instead, the rats were taken off heroin and were provided CBD. After this, it was observed that the rats’ desire for heroin decreased even when prompted.

A review was done in 2015 about different studies done on CBD and how it affects addictive behaviors. The review includes 21 studies on animals and humans and the beneficial effect of CBD on the addiction of substances such as cannabis, tobacco, opioid, and psychostimulants.

This 2019, the American Journal of Psychiatry has published a study on CBD and addiction which was tested on humans. The journal discusses the scientific study done on how CBD affects peoples’ opioid craving. The study conducted involved 42 individuals who have a history of opioid addiction. These individuals were tasked to abstain from using psychoactive substances. Different dosage of CBD was administered to different individuals daily for the following three days while being observed in the next two weeks.

The results show that the individuals have lower cravings and have less stress reaction from drug-related cues; and despite the individuals being provided different dosages of CBD, there is no notable difference in the results.

CBD can help prevent relapse:

Both studies mentioned above showed the significant effect CBD in decreasing the cravings and anxiety which are the two are common symptoms of drug withdrawal. The results of these studies confirm that CBD also has the potential of preventing relapse.

In an article published in 2008, demonstrates the feasibility of this claim. Rats with alcohol and cocaine administration were used for the study and instead of administering CBD orally, it was done by applying a gel with CBD on the skin. This is to prevent the CBD from converting into a psychoactive compound and to prevent the reduction of bioavailability.

The rats showed low interest and drug-seeking behavior even after being subject to a stimulating environment. The results also showed a decrease in withdrawal symptoms. People going through withdrawal may often result in taking opioid again to lessen the suffering. If these symptoms are decreased, this also lowers the susceptibility of an individual to relapse.

CBD, a significant promise:

So, can CBD really help treat opioid & drug addiction? The studies done regarding the effect of CBD on addiction only prove that it can reduce drug-seeking behaviors in both animals and humans. While there are still a lot of questions to be answered, there is no denying the fact that CBD has great potential in addressing the crisis on opioid and drug addiction.


Eileen Reyes, Content Manager

Eileen writes with the motivation of making this world a better place, and has a passion for the hemp industry. She's spent 5+ years as a content creator who loves to paint and travel. If she is not at her desk writing, she can be found playing with her dog, Beebop.

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