The opioid crisis is a significant global health problem. Despite the current treatments available for opioid-dependent patients, the majority of patients relapse. A recent study out of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York found that CBD oil helped reduce cue-induced cravings and anxiety in a small sample of heroin dependent patients. The study, though small, suggests CBD may play a role in helping break heroin addiction.
Yasmin Hurd, lead study author and director of the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai said in a statement, "To address the critical need for new treatment options for the millions of people and families who are being devastated by this epidemic, we initiated a study to assess the potential of a nonintoxicating cannabinoid on craving and anxiety in heroin-addicted individuals."
"The specific effects of CBD on cue-induced drug craving and anxiety are particularly important in the development of addiction therapeutics because environmental cues are one of the strongest triggers for relapse and continued drug use."
The researchers began with a study of the effects of CBD oil in animals, finding that CBD reduced the animals use of heroin when faced with drug-associated cues. This lead them to study the effects of CBD oil in a group of 42 drug-abstinent male and female adults with heroin use disorder. Participants were given either 400 mg or 800 mg of CBD or a placebo. They were then exposed to neutral and drug-related cues at 3 separate points following administration, including up to a week after the third administration.
The study tracked vital signs of the participants that are associated with anxiety and cravings. Researchers found that participants who were given CBD had lower heart rates and salivary cortisol levels, which typically increase in addicts when they are shown anxiety provoking images.
“Cravings and anxiety are very subjective effects. One of the things people can do is trick themselves. That’s why we measured their physiological responses. These drug cues increase heroin users’ heart rates and the levels of cortisol so we know it’s not subjective because with the CBD their heart rates and levels of cortisol decreased — that’s really important,” said Hurd in a statement to NBC News.
Despite these promising findings, more research is necessary to study how CBD oil can possibly help with drug addiction and anxiety in general.
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