CBD can be used to manage a myriad of ailments, including opioid addiction. A recent study suggests that CBD could help treat opioid addiction. This study found that CBD significantly reduced cravings and anxiety for heroin addicts without serious side effects. The reduced cravings and anxiety were even apparent a week after taking CBD for 3 days in a row. More than 400,000 people have died of opioid addiction in the United States alone since the early 2000s. In this article, we’ll be discussing the use, science, and future of CBD as a potential treatment for opioid addiction.
CBD and Opioids
As health practitioners seek to contain the opioid epidemic, the need for an alternative means of treatment has risen. Opioid addiction treatment can be problematic since typical medications are also opioid-based. Preliminary animal studies show promising results for CBD as the solution to opioid addiction. During initial tests, scientists first administered heroin to rats, then recorded the effects that CBD had on those with drug-seeking behavior. Following the introduction of CBD, the rats became less dependent on heroin.
In recent human clinical trials, individuals with known histories of opioid dependency showed significant decreases in opioid cravings after a single dose of CBD. Researchers also noted that CBD lessened feelings of anxiety in the subjects. Experts require further studies before determining if they can use CBD in conventional medicine. However, initial studies concur that CBD can be a pivotal instrument in the fight against the opioid epidemic.
Opioid addiction has impacted millions of lives and hundreds of thousands of families across America. To understand the importance of addiction treatment, one must understand how opioids affect the human brain and behavior. Opioids work via the activation of opioid receptors, which belong to a class of compounds known as G-protein-coupled receptors. These receptors release opioids in the form of endorphins or “feel-good hormones.” Endorphins are also responsible for numbing the perception of pain and stimulating a temporary sense of well-being. Over time, the release of endorphins slows down, which prompts the user to increase their intake of opioids.
A patient can develop a high tolerance to narcotics over a short period of time; consequently, they may require larger doses to experience the same effects. Licensed medical practitioners hardly ever approve of increasing dosages or renewing prescriptions; to a patient immune to regulated opioids, heroin becomes extremely enticing. With compromised pleasure and pain receptors in the brain, patients find that opioid addiction is slippery. But with what we know, we have the potential to equip patients on the road to recovery well.
How CBD Helps in the Treatment of Opioid Addiction
CBD binds to Receptor Types 1 and 2 and interacts with the 5-HT1A agonist—a subtype of the serotonin receptor. The function of serotonin is similar in a lot of ways to that of endorphins. Recent discoveries hint at a possible relationship between the Serotonergic system and the endocannabinoid system. This new information forms the basis for why CBD could be a viable treatment for addiction. CBD blocks the reabsorption of serotonin in the brain, increasing serotonin availability in the synaptic space. The more serotonin there is in the synaptic spaces, the better the brain cells can transmit serotonin signals. Additionally, serotonin elicits a feeling of well-being, just like opioid-triggered endorphins.
Experts at the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai in New York City conducted a study in which individuals with documented dependence on opioids each took a CBD dose. Afterward, these individuals were subjected to opiate-drug triggers such as syringes or powder sachets resembling heroin. The test subjects then rated the severity of their cravings and how much anxiety they felt. The results were astounding: the subjects who consumed CBD experienced a significant drop in cravings and overall dependence on opioids. Records also state that their heart rates, blood pressure, and stress levels were well within acceptable levels. The study concluded that CBD and the signals it delivers reduce anxiety symptoms and eliminate the cravings that drive addiction. Patients also experienced relief from pain, eliminating the need for using opioids to treat pain.
What Does the Future Hold For CBD Opioid Addiction Treatments?
Many additional studies still need to be conducted before we find a definitive solution to the opioid epidemic. Some cases have reported side effects associated with CBD use, including diarrhea, nausea, headaches, lethargy. At this point, we cannot assert that CBD treatments are 100% safe, but recent studies have found that CBD is not associated with any serious side effects. Long-term studies that involve following up on recovering addicts using CBD will be crucial in determining the efficacy of CBD as a treatment for opioid addiction, but initial results are auspicious.