Researchers are looking into CBD as a promising alternative treatment for opioid addiction
The rapid rise in opioid abuse in the United States has resulted in a countrywide epidemic that shows no signs of abating. According to the latest National Institute on Drug Abuse statistics, more than 130 people in the United States die every day after overdosing on opioids, up from an estimated 115 in 2016. The CDC has estimated the total economic burden of prescription opioid misuse in the U.S. at $78.5 billion a year. As researchers seek ways to combat this epidemic, some are studying the role cannabidiol (CBD) products can play. Read on to explore the latest research on CBD’s potential use in overcoming addiction.
Treatment Options for Addiction
Finding effective methods to combat the opioid epidemic is crucial. However, treatment options are limited and relapse potential is high. Some medications for opioid addiction, such as buprenorphine and methadone, help reduce cravings by targeting the same pathways that opioids use, but studies show they don’t erase cue-triggered anxiety, and they’re not widely used. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, just one-third of patients with opioid dependence in private treatment centers receive these medications. And the 2016 Surgeon General’s report on addiction indicated that only one in five people who needed treatment for opioid use disorders was receiving any at all.
Enter CBD, a non-psychoactive component of cannabis with a wide range of benefits that could play a role in combating addiction. CBD has been shown to be effective at managing anxiety and diminishing the cravings associated with addiction to opiates. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, CBD also is being looked at as a treatment for pain and inflammation, which often lead to opiate use in the first place. And, there are other research-backed benefits to CBD:
- It has no proven adverse side effects.
- It isn’t habit-forming.
- It has pain-relief potential and anti-inflammatory properties.
- It doesn’t build tolerance.
- It’s nontoxic, legal, and safe to use.
- It contains less than 0.3% THC and therefore has no psychoactive properties.
How Does CBD Help?
A recent study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry showed that CBD was able to significantly “reduce cue-induced craving and anxiety, two critical features of addiction that often contribute to relapse and continued drug use, in drug-abstinent individuals with heroin use disorder.” The study also showed that CBD has been able to reduce stress hormone levels and heart rate in the study subjects. Remarkably, these effects of CBD lasted a week after the last dose.
Earlier studies also showed CBD’s potential as a treatment option for opioid use disorder by helping manage addictive behavior, and by reducing withdrawal symptoms including nausea, mood swings, stress, and insomnia.
A recent animal study discovered unique anti-relapse potential of CBD when it looked at the possibilities of CBD treatment of substance use disorders. It looked at several classes of addiction, including to opiates, and at various stages of addiction, including withdrawal. One major positive discovery was that “CBD attenuates cue-induced heroin reinstatement with effects that outlasted treatment by two weeks.”
The study cited CBD’s anti-anxiety and anti-craving effects among therapeutic benefits, noting that CBD can target relapse-causing factors, including “craving associated with drug cue exposure, susceptibility to stress, heightened anxiety, and impaired impulse control.”
CBD’s Impact on Addictive Behaviors
Finally, a 2015 review of both animal and human studies, published in the journal Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment, looked at the impact of CBD on addictive behaviors. The review suggested that “CBD may have therapeutic properties on opioid, cocaine, and psychostimulant addiction …”
Overall, CBD has shown great potential for helping fight opiate addiction and as a nonaddictive alternative for pain and stress relief, as well as for treating opiate addiction by easing symptoms of withdrawal.
At Crescent Canna, we’re committed to educating ourselves and our customers on the latest research on hemp-derived CBD. Please visit our CBD FAQ for more information, or contact us with any questions.