Can CBD Help People Who Are Former Opioid Users?

CBD is everywhere and is being touted as a “cure all” for maladies such as pain, inflammation, insomnia and anxiety. Although CBD is helping a lot of people with many different ailments, there is still a lack of medical research to back up many of these claims.  A new study, that has just been released from the American Journal of Psychiatry, suggests that CBD can help reduce stress and cravings among people addicted to opioids.

Girl suffering from opioid addiction shot by Naomi August

A few small studies had already suggested that CBD might be able to help with anxiety, so researchers who study addiction wanted to know if CBD could help former heroin addicts avoid a relapse by reducing cravings and stress.  “The intense craving is what drives drug use,” said Yasmin Hurd, the lead researcher on the newly released study and director of the Addiction Institute of Mount Sinai.  “If we can dampen that [craving], that can greatly reduce the chance of relapse and overdose risk.”

Opioid pills

Currently, methadone and buprenorphine are the medications available for opioid addiction, but with these new findings, CBD may be added to the list. Hurd's study included people who had stopped using heroin but were vulnerable to relapse. Half of them were put on a high dose of pure CBD and the other half were given a placebo.  Neither the participants nor the clinician, the clinical team, knew what they were getting or giving. During the study, the participants watched videos of people using drugs and saw other drug-related images that could trigger cravings and stress. It turned out that the people taking the placebo reacted strongly. Their heart rates went up. Their levels of the stress hormone cortisol increased. And they reported experiencing significant cravings. But the people taking CBD had a different experience. “Those who received the CBD, they showed a reduction of their craving and they also showed a reduction of their anxiety,” says Hurd.

Something to note is that the CBD used in the study was a high dose, pharmaceutical grade, pure form of the compound.  This type of product isn't available at medical dispensaries at this time.  But with nearly 400,000 American deaths due to opioid-related causes since 2000, this is a promising study that gives up hope for our current opioid crisis.

Written by Megan Villa

Leave a comment