• American researchers have found more evidence that CBD can be used to help treat addiction to heroin
  • Addicts given CBD were 2-3 times less likely to exhibit cravings for heroin than those given placebos
  • Anxiety and stress levels were also significantly lower in those who were given CBD

A new study has found further evidence that Cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive cannabinoid, has the potential to help treat heroin addiction.

The study, conducted by researchers at the Addiction Institute of Mount Sinai, gave CBD to patients addicted to heroin to investigate the impact it would have on their cravings and their level of anxiety.

The researchers, led by Yasmin Hurd Ph.D., recruited 42 adults addicted to heroin for at least 13 years from social services groups, halfway houses and treatment centers. The participants had to have been clean from heroin, as well as detox drugs such as methadone or buprenorphine, for at least a month and were required to abstain from using during the entire study period.

The participants were then divided into three groups:

  • The first group were given 800mg CBD
  • The second group were given 400mg CBD
  • The Third group was a control group, given a placebo

Each participant was provided their dose of CBD or placebo once a day for 3 consecutive days. Researchers then followed their progress over the following two weeks.

As well as receiving varying doses of CBD, the addicts were also shown images and videos of nature as well as images of drug use and heroin-related paraphernalia, like syringes and bags of heroin. Researchers then asked them to rate their craving for heroin and their levels of anxiety.

The researchers found compelling evidence that CBD could be used in future treatments for addicts.

A week after the participants were given their last dose of CBD, the research team found that those who had been given CBD had a two, to three-fold, reduction in cravings compared to the placebo group. The difference between the two CBD groups, according to Hurd, was negligible, indicating that more does not necessarily mean better.

The heart rates and levels of cortisol, the “stress hormone”, of the addicts given CBD were significantly lower than those who only received the placebo.

Some of the participants reported side-effects to the CBD, such as headaches, tiredness and mild diarrhea.

“[CBD] can really help save lives.”
 Yasmin Hurd PhD, lead researcher

he researchers used Epidolex, made by GW Pharmaceuticals, as the source of CBD for the study, as they knew the exact concentration of CBD, as well as other ingredients, in the drug, which was essential for reliability.

The findings from the study mirrored those from a pilot study ran previously by Hurd, who believes a longer-term study, following addicts for up to 6 months, will be needed for more conclusive evidence.

Discussing the results of the study, Dr. Julie Holland, a former assistant professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine, expressed her optimism for the future of addiction treatment:

“This is an extremely significant paper.

“We need to utilise 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.

“CBD not only manages the anxiety and cue/craving cycle, it also diminishes the original pain and inflammation that leads to opiate use in the first place.”

Hurd’s aim for the next study is to answer more questions, specifically, finding out more information about the best dose, frequency of dosage, and how many times CBD needs to be administered before cravings begin to be diminished.

Hurd concluded that, ultimately, “[CBD] can really help save lives.”

Heroin and opium addiction is ravaging communities across the US. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), in 2016 about 948,000 Americans reported using heroin in the past year.

Traditional treatments are failing addicts, leading researchers to look for alternative treatments, inspiring Hurd and her team to launch the study into CBD as the potential alternative.

If CBD can safely help addicts come off their dependence to opium, it must be investigated further.

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