Can CBD solve the opioid epidemic?

The USA has been struggling with an opioid epidemic that has claimed more than 300,000 lives since it began and the UK records over 4,000 deaths per year because of opioid abuse.

The two current opioid addiction treatments are methadone and buprenorphine, which work on the same opioid receptors as heroin and other opioids. Most people are addicted to heroin or oxycodone (essentially prescription heroin). The thing is, these treatments have their own stigmas and addiction risks and are tightly regulated, so many people with opioid addiction won’t have access to them.

This is exactly why there’s an urgent need to find other treatments, and lots has recently been carried out with, you guessed it, CBD.

The study that took place at Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai in New York City with Dr Yasmin Hurd, included 42 men and women with a history of heroin abuse who were not current users.

For the study, participants received either an oral CBD solution or an inactive placebo and then were shown videos that contained neutral and drug-related cues. Neutral cues included relaxing scenarios such as scenes of nature, while drug-related cues included scenes of IV drug use and heroin-related items such as syringes, rubber ties and packets of powder.

The researchers found that, compared to a placebo, CBD reduced drug cue-induced craving and anxiety in the participants.

According to Dr Yasmin Hurd, “findings indicate that CBD holds significant promise for treating individuals with heroin use disorder.

A successful non-opioid medication would add significantly to the existing addiction medication toolbox to help reduce the growing death toll, enormous health care costs, and treatment limitations imposed by stringent government regulations amid this persistent opioid epidemic.”

The report was published May 21 in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

According to research carried out by Consumer Reports, 22 percent of people who took CBD for one of the health problems we asked about said it helped them replace prescription or over the counter drugs, with more than a third of them saying they used it to replace opioids. And some researchers across the U.S. are now studying whether CBD (alone or in combination with THC) could be a tool in the fight against the ongoing opioid crisis.