The list of conditions that cannabidiol (a cannabinoid extracted from cannabis) may be able to treat continues to grow – this time in helping to prevent relapse in addicts and alcoholics.
For the many people struggling with addiction, staying clean and/or sober is a major challenge and relapses are common. Relapses can be triggered by a wide variety of things, including anxiety and being in an environment that encourages drug and alcohol use.
While programs such as AA and NA can do amazing things to help addicts/alcoholics in developing coping mechanisms and learning to avoid risky environments, a safe medication to help support this could see a lot more being successful in their efforts. To be a “safe medication”, it would need to be one that doesn’t act as a replacement “high”, but helps remove or reduce the desire to use/drink, isn’t habit forming, nor has nasty side-effects.
A recntly published preclinical study in rats “addicted” to cocaine or alcohol has shown a gel containing cannabidiol (CBD) applied to their skin daily for a week reduced relapse provoked by stress and drug cues, while also alleviating anxiety and impulsivity in the rats. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol is non-intoxicating and there’s no indication as yet its use leads to addiction.
Another very interesting result from the study was the rats that had been treated with CBD still showed a reduced relapse induced by stress or drug cues five months later.
“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,” said Friedbert Weiss, leader of an investigative team at the Scripps Research Institute in California.
The study, “Unique treatment potential of cannabidiol for the prevention of relapse to drug use: preclinical proof of principle” has been published in Springer Nature’s Neuropsychopharmacology.
“The findings also inform the ongoing medical marijuana debate concerning medical benefits of non-psychoactive cannabinoids and their promise for development and use as therapeutics,” says the study abstract.
As we’ve often mentioned on HempGazette, medical cannabis is also showing promise in addressing the opioid abuse crisis. In August last year, we reported University of Mississippi researchers indicated that cannabidiol, which can be extracted from industrial hemp, may be a powerful tool in the battle against opioid medicine abuse and addiction.