Can CBD be Used to Treat Addiction?

Recently, CBD has received a lot of attention due to its potential to treat addiction abuse. Literature focuses on the pharmacotherapeutic potential of CBD in terms of its relevance in prevention of relapse in addiction. It is thought CBD is effective in targeting risk states of addiction relapse by reducing anxiety and stress related to addiction cues and mediating anti-depressant activity. In addition to that, CBD has an impact on the brain circuitry that is responsible for craving and seeking behaviors triggered by addiction-related context and stress.

Taking into consideration the neuropharmacological and behavioral effects of CBD and its impact on the neurocircuitry controlling addiction, the implications of CBD for the development of new treatments of drug addiction has attracted the interest in the research community investigating therapeutic solutions for drug addiction and relapse.

CBD has an effect on relapse conditions such as sensitivity to drug context and stress, impaired impulse control and anxiety. This points to CBD’s potential ability to refine vulnerability states that promote relapse. Second, CBD’s effects were long-lasting in the animals regardless of the short period of the treatment. This discrepancies between these animal studies, potentially due to differences in methodology emphasizes the need for further investigation into this controversial area of research.

A recent study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, led by Yasmin Hurd, further demonstrates the ability of CBD to reduce cravings in people with opioid/stimulant addiction. The study involved 42 women and men with history of addiction abuse attempting to abstain from relapse. As part of the experiment participants were shown two types of videos: neutral videos showing nature scenes and videos showing addiction-related cues aiming to trigger cravings. The participants were divided into three groups: people who took 400mg of CBD, people who took 800mg of CBD and a placebo group. The interventions were taken for three consecutive days. The experiment was double-blinded, meaning that neither the researchers, nor the participants were aware of which conditions they were assigned to during the experiment.

Participants experienced higher cravings after seeing the addiction related videos as compared to the neutral videos as expected. However, those participants who took CBD as part of the treatment reported less drug cravings that people in the placebo group after exposure to addiction-related cues. Results also demonstrate reduction in anxiety as well as reduction in heart rate and cortisol which is the “stress hormone”. The effects on the intervention were visible as soon as one hour after administration of CBD and were still visible up to one week after the intervention.

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