The US is in the midst of an opioid crisis and scientists are keen on developing better methods to treat opioid addiction.
Methadone and Buprenorphine, the two widely used drugs (medicines) to help opioid addicts, are in themselves addictive, have a stigma attached to them and are tightly regulated. A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry says that over 300,000 people have died of opioid addiction in the past 10 years. Thus, there is a dire need to control the situation at the earliest, and cannabis (CBD) may come in handy for the purpose.
A new study, conducted by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, has investigated whether Cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive compound in cannabis, could form the foundation of new treatments.
For the study, a total of 42 individuals, comprising both men and women, were recruited. The subjects were previously addicted to opioids but were abstinent at the time of the study.
The participants were randomly administered with either 400 mg or 800 mg of CBD, or a placebo. They were then shown images related to drugs — such as packets filled with heroin — on three different occasions:
- Right after taking CBD or the placebo
- 24 hours after taking CBD or placebo
- 7 days after taking CBD or placebo
Furthermore, they were also shown neutral scenes like natural landscapes.
During these sessions, the researchers asked the participants about their anxiety and craving levels, while also documenting their vital signs.
Finally, the researchers found that the CBD group displayed significantly less craving and anxiety associated with drug use, as compared to the placebo group. What surprised them though was the fact that the effect of CBD could be seen even after a week.
“Our findings indicate that CBD holds significant promise for treating individuals with heroin use disorder,” Yasmin Hurd, director of the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai and first author of the study, told a leading newspaper.
Chandni Hindocha, a UCL research fellow at the UK’ s National Institute for Health Research who had recently published the inferences of her own study, thinks that the authors of this study should have measured the amount of CBD that got into the bloodstream. “It would be great to see if there was a correlation between the amount of CBD in the bloodstream with the reduction in anxiety and craving, or with the more biological measures such as the reduction in the stress hormone, cortisol.”