A new study found that CBD shows potential for use as a treatment for opioid addiction, according to CNN.
The study, published in The American Journal of Psychiatry, assessed the effects of CBD administration (400 or 800mg, once daily for three consecutive days) on drug cue-induced craving and anxiety in drug-abstinent individuals with heroin use disorder. The effects were assessed one hour, two hours, 24 hours, three consecutive days, and seven days after the last of three daily administrations of CBD.
CNN says that the participants had used heroin for an average of 13 years, and most had gone less than a month without using. The 42 participants were split into three groups: one given 400mg of CBD, one given 800mg, and one given a placebo. The CBD source was Epidiolex, the FDA-approved medication.
Immediate effects—within 24 hours of administration—significantly reduced cravings and anxiety when compared to a placebo. CBD also showed long-term effects, and reduced the drug cue-induced physiological measures of heart rate and salivary cortisol levels. CNN reports that a week after the final administration of CBD, participants in both CBD groups had a two- to three-fold reduction in cravings relative to the placebo groups, although the difference between the two groups was significant.
The study noted that there were no significant effects on cognition and no serious adverse events.
Yasmin Hurd, lead researcher and director of the Addiction Institute of Mount Sinai, told CNN: “The intense craving is what drives the drug use. If we can have the medications that can dampen that, it can greatly reduce the chance of relapse and overdose risk.”
Current treatments, CNN says, consist of buprenorphine and methadone. Both curb cravings, but only one in five U.S. individuals with opioid dependence actually receive these medications: The medications are themselves opioids, so prescription and dosage are highly regulated by FDA. Treatment also requires frequent visits with healthcare practitioners.
Hurd told CNN that there are still questions—best dose, number of doses administered, and mechanism of action—but that she’s optimistic: “It’s not addictive. No one is diverting it. It doesn’t get you high, but it can reduce craving and anxiety. This can really help save lives.”