“This is an extremely significant paper.”
The non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, called cannabidiol, could be part of an effective treatment for opioid addiction.
That conclusion was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry this week. The study’s authors said cannabidiol, commonly called CBD, “significantly reduced both craving and anxiety induced by the presentation of salient drug cues compared with neutral cues.”
For researchers, that was a monumental finding. Addicts often relapse because of cravings that are set off by certain cues, and if CBD could successfully reduce the impact of those cues it could help addicts maintain their sobriety longer.
“The intense craving is what drives the drug use,” Yasmin Hurd, the lead researcher on the study and director of the Addiction Institute of Mount Sinai, told CNN. “If we can have the medications that can dampen that [craving], that can greatly reduce the chance of relapse and overdose risk.”
Another enticing element of CBD is that it’s not an opioid, like many of the other medications used to treat opioid addiction. Methadone and buprenorphine, which are both opioids, work to reduce cravings in a similar way. But opioids are much harder to prescribe and can create dependency. CBD, on the other hand, is legal in some states and readily available. It’s already becoming a common treatment for inflammation and pain management, according to MarketWatch, though studies on its effectiveness are still scarce.
The researchers in this study used Epidiolex, according to CNN, the first FDA-approved cannabis-based medication.
“This is an extremely significant paper,” Dr. Julie Holland, a psychiatrist in New York, told CNN. “We need to utilize every possible treatment in helping people with chronic pain to find other ways to manage their symptoms and in people with opiate addiction to find relief.”