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Will CBD Help Opioid Addicts Kick Their Habits?

A new study suggests that cannabidiol might help some people with drug-use disorder kick their habits. It seems to ease cravings and anxiety.
Will CBD Help Opioid Addicts Kick Their Habits?
Hand with pen drawing the chemical formula of CBD

Cannabidiol, known as CBD, may help opioid addicts kick their habits. Many people are enthusiastic about this compound derived from Cannabis. It is showing up in all kinds of products, mostly without much scientific basis for its use. That’s why scientists are paying attention to a recent placebo-controlled study (American Journal of Psychiatry, May 21, 2019).

What the Scientists Did:

The investigators recruited 42 volunteers who had been addicted to heroin, though they weren’t actively using the drug. The participants were split into three groups to get different medications: 800 mg of CBD, 400 mg of CBD and placebo. Each person got the test medication for three days and then participated in tests over the next two weeks. They viewed scenes of nature juxtaposed to scenes of drug paraphernalia. The scientists measured their levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, and had them rate their anxiety and cravings. Those who had taken CBD had significantly lower levels of craving and anxiety. Their cortisol levels were also significantly lower.

Will CBD Help People Kick Their Habits?

The researchers used Epidiolex, an FDA approved medication, for this research because they could control the dose closely. Scientists around the country are paying attention to these very interesting findings. They will need to conduct more research to learn just how best to use this compound. Clearly, CBD is not a magical solution to the opioid epidemic. However, it may help some people to kick their habits. 

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
  • Hurd YL et al, "Cannabidiol for the reduction of cue-induced craving and anxiety in drug-abstinent individuals with heroin-use disorder: A double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial." American Journal of Psychiatry, May 21, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2019.18101191
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