Cannabidiol reduces stress hormone levels and eases the urge to use opioids, according to a latest study.
This is nothing new, previous studies show that cannabinoids reduce the craving for heroin addicts as well as their level of anxiety. Yasmin Hurd, principal investigator of the study and director of the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai University said "It is the state of intense need that drives drug use, if we can have drugs that can alleviate this need, it can significantly reduce the risk of relapse and overdose. "
As anyone with drug addiction can tell you, breaking off physical intimacy with drugs isn't always the hardest part of treatment. People trying to avoid resuscitating their addiction also need to grapple with reminders: the sights, sounds, and people that were part of their addictive behaviors. These clues can trigger an urge to use the drug, which creates anxiety that plunges them directly into addiction to relieve their addiction.
Medications available for opioid dependence, such as buprenorphine, tramadol and methadone, work the same way, reducing cravings. Except that, over 2,5 million Americans suffer from opioid use disorders, which led to more than 28000 overdose deaths in 2014. In France, the National Medicines Safety Agency (ANSM) takes stock of opioid pain medication and also notes a growing number of poisonings and deaths.
The use of opioids, including heroin and prescription pain relievers, can lead to neonatal abstinence syndrome as well as the spread of infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.
Public health experts say there are barriers to getting these drugs, which are widely distributed. In addition, treatment with these drugs may require frequent visits to the practitioner. “It's really a burden on doctors,” says neuroscientist Yasmin Hurd.
In his study, published Tuesday in the American Journal of Psychiatry, Hurd and colleagues examined 42 adults who had a recent history of heroin use and were not taking methadone or buprenorphine. Recruited from social service groups, halfway houses and treatment centers, participants had used heroin for an average of 13 years and most of them had spent less than a month without using. They had to refrain from using heroin during the entire trial period.
The participants were divided into three groups: one group received 800 milligrams of CBD, another 400 milligrams of CBD and another a placebo. All participants received one dose per day for three consecutive days and were followed for the next two weeks.
During these two weeks, during several sessions, participants were able to see images or videos of nature scenes as well as images of drug use and heroin-related objects, such as syringes and packets of powder that look like heroin. They were then asked to rate their need for heroin and their level of anxiety.
A week after the last CBD administration, those who received CBD had two to three times less desire to smoke than the placebo group. The research team also measured heart rate and cortisol, the "stress hormone," and found that the levels in people using CBD were significantly lower than those who had not received the drug.
These results are similar to a pilot study conducted by Hurd, but she says the next step is to do a longer-term study, following subjects for up to six months.
“Not only does CBD manage anxiety and the cycle of anxiety, but it also decreases the initial pain and inflammation that lead to opioid use. There are still many questions for science in the next study:
- What is the better dosage of CBD
- Know how many times it should be administered
- Determine the best route, oral or by inhalation
- Knowing the mechanism in the brain that works to decrease cravings
Acute administration of CBD, unlike placebo, significantly reduced both craving and anxiety induced by showing salient drug indices compared to neutral indicators. CBD also showed significant prolonged effects on these measurements 7 days after the last exposure (3 days). Additionally, CBD reduced physiological measures of heart rate and salivary cortisol levels induced by drug signals. There were no significant effects on cognition, nor serious adverse effects.
The effects of anxiety look promising, but it is not known whether they will become generalized or not, says Chandni Hindocha, a researcher in the division of psychiatry at University College London. Referring to a other study Showing that a 400mg dose of CBD reduced anxiety related to public speaking, she says that in both cases, something triggers the anxiety, rather than its chronic and widespread nature. “The system that CBD works on to bring the body back to a state of equilibrium during times of acute anxiety,” says Hindocha, so CBD can have its effects by speeding up this process.
The CBD's potential for reducing craving and anxiety provides a solid foundation for further research on this phytocannabinoid as a treatment option for opioid disorder.