According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 115 people a day die from an opioid overdose in the United States. Opioids include prescription pain relievers, heroin, and fentanyl, which is a synthetic and potentially deadly opioid.
The opioid crisis is a result of pharmaceutical companies in the late 1990’s over prescribing opioid pain relievers, while reassuring the community that they would not become addicted. This led to widespread misuse of prescription painkillers, which were later found to be highly addictive.
The opioid crisis is not going to go away on its own. There is a race to to find alternative solutions so no more lives are lost due to opioid overdose. Studies are being done to test the effect of CBD on addiction.
The case study, Cannabidiol as an Intervention for Addictive Behaviors: a Systematic Review of the Evidence, has provided insight on the benefits of CBD for addiction.
Addiction, according to the study, is described as a “chronically relapsing disorder characterized by the compulsive desire to seek and use drugs with impaired control over substance use despite negative consequences.”
Research has shown that the endocannabinoid system plays a role in drug seeking behaviors and brain plasticity. Brain plasticity means the brain has the ability to change throughout a lifetime and reorganize itself by forming new connections between brain cells..
CBD acts on many different neural circuits within the endocannabinoid system involved in the acquisition of addiction, which leads to the question: can CBD be used to treat substance-use disorders?
An experiment was conducted on a 19 year old girl with a cannabis dependence who had experienced withdrawal symptoms after attempting to quit. The patient was given CBD for 11 days and monitored through daily assessments.
The daily assessments were: the Withdrawal Discomfort Score, Marijuana Withdrawal Symptom Checklist, Beck Anxiety Inventory, and Beck Depression Inventory. All tests showed rapid decrease in withdrawal symptoms, which resulted in a score of zero by day 6.
The patient was asked to come back 6 months after the experiment for a check up. Results showed a relapse in cannabis use, but at a much lower rate than before. Instead of using cannabis seven days a week, the patient was only using it one to two days a week.
Overall, this study shows a positive outcome for cannabis withdrawal and relapse being treated with CBD.
A randomized, double-blind , placebo-controlled study was conducted with 24 people who wanted to stop smoking. The group was divided into two; one group received a CBD inhaler, the other, a placebo inhaler.
The groups were instructed to use the inhalers when they had the urge to smoke. Their cravings were measured once daily for the duration of a week. After two weeks, the participants cigarette use was assessed.
The result was a significant reduction (about 40 percent) in the amount of cigarettes smoked by the CBD inhaler group. Both groups showed reduction in cravings during the experiment.
From the studies conducted, CBD appears to influence the relapse phase of addiction by decreasing drug-seeking behaviors.
“Considering these results, evidence suggesting that CBD has a beneficial impact on the intoxication, withdrawal, and relapse phases of cannabis addiction in humans is thus preliminary at best, although intriguing given the lack of pharmacological options for these conditions.”
CBD seems to have a direct impact on addictive behaviors, but this could be a result of CBD’s therapeutic benefits. CBD is known to reduce anxiety, depression, insomnia and pain, all of which are potential symptoms of drug addiction and withdrawal. By targeting these symptoms, CBD can provide relief for many drug users or anyone suffering.