CBD May Help Addicts Stay Sober, Study Suggests

Alexander Kharytonov

A new study out of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, has offered new evidence that CBD may help maintain sobriety. The study, published in Neuropsychopharmacology, documented the findings from experiments with lab rats.

Scientists have shown CBD’s effectiveness in treating or managing a range of neurological, physiological, and psychiatric conditions such as epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, and autism. Anecdotal evidence has spurred on research in a range of other areas, such as addition. In the pre-clinical study conducted at Scripps, researchers sought to test the impact of Cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive cannabis-derived chemical, on addicted populations.

The study was headed Dr. Friedbert Weiss. Along with his colleagues, he used CBD to treat addiction in laboratory rats hooked on cocaine or alcohol, administering a topical gel infused with CBD every day for one week. Sure enough, by the end of the week, the addicted rats exhibited less symptomatic behavior when subjected to stressful situations.

Stress and anxiety often lead to relapse with both rats and humans. Rather than test if CBD cures addiction, the experiment showed how CBD decreased the likelihood of falling back into addictive behaviors. The study also showed that CBD reduced general anxiety and impulsive behavior.

The study and this line of research has potentially huge implications for a nation embroiled in a massive opioid epidemic that has taken hundreds of thousands of lives. Every day, more than 115 Americans die from an opioid overdose, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Public health experts have estimated that, over the next 10 years, more than 500,000 more Americans could succumb to the epidemic.

"The efficacy of the cannabinoid [CBD] to reduce reinstatement in rats with both alcohol and cocaine—and, as previously reported, heroin—histories predicts therapeutic potential for addiction treatment across several classes of abused drugs," says Weiss.

"The results provide proof of principle supporting the potential of CBD in relapse prevention along two dimensions: beneficial actions across several vulnerability states, and long-lasting effects with only brief treatment."

"Drug addicts enter relapse vulnerability states for multiple reasons,” according to Weiss. “Therefore, effects such as these observed with CBD that concurrently ameliorate several of these are likely to be more effective in preventing relapse than treatments targeting only a single state."

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