Cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive compound in cannabis, has been found to be extremely beneficial in helping individuals kick addictions to harmful substances including cocaine.
New research adds to a growing body of evidence that CBD can be safely used by recovering addicts not just from opioids and alcohol, but from other dangerous, illicit substances including cocaine.
Researchers from the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California found that rats who were given CBD were less likely to relapse when exposed to alcohol and cocaine.
This may be due to CBD’s ability to significantly reduce stress and anxiety while minimizing impulsive behavior, says the researchers.
The study, which was published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, involved animal models with a history of voluntary alcohol or cocaine administration daily, which led to behaviors mimicking addiction. A CBD-infused gel was then applied on the mice’s skin once a day for a week.
They performed different tests to see how the mice would react to anxiety-inducing situations for impulsivity tests, and found that CBD was helpful in reducing impulsivity as well as the anxiety that provokes it.
Five months after the study, they found that the mice who were administered with CBD still showed a reduction in relapse provoked by drug cues or stress.
“The efficacy of the cannabinoid CBD to reduce reinstatement in rats with both alcohol and cocaine – and, as previously reported, heroin – histories predicts therapeutic potential for addiction treatment across several classes of abused drugs,” said Friedbert Weiss, who led the team of investigative researchers.
“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.”
Weiss adds: “Drug addicts enter relapse vulnerability states for multiple reasons. Therefore, effects such as these observed with CBD that concurrently ameliorate several of these are likely to be more effective in preventing relapse than treatments targeting only a single state.”
Cannabis Can Help Crack Cocaine Addicts Quit Safely
Another study conducted by Michael-John Milloy of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver sought to answer questions about whether cannabis could help curb cravings for crack cocaine. Milloy looked at data from three long-term studies documenting drug users in Vancouver.
Three thousand participants with a history of drug use were asked to complete questionnaires about their habits, and it also asked if they started consuming cannabis with the intention of reducing their cravings.
Milloy, together with his colleagues, found 122 crack users who began taking cannabis for this exact reason.
Over 30 months in average, these people were 89% more likely to have reduced crack consumption when they were taking cannabis, compared to the time when they were not using cannabis.
They also found that some of the participants were able to use cannabis to completely get over their cravings.
“Before intentional cannabis use, 11% were not using crack at all,” says Milloy. “After intentional use, that increased to 28%.”
CBD Reduces Cocaine and Heroin Addiction
An animal study conducted in 2011 also provides promising evidence that CBD may be the cure to cocaine and heroin addiction.
By administering JWH133, a synthetic drug that also activates the CBD2 receptor, animal models showed that it translated to a 50-60% reduction in cocaine administration.
“It’s a very significant reduction,” says lead author Zheng-Xiong Xi, who is also a researcher at the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
A 2004 animal study also revealed that low doses of CBD and THC was beneficial in reducing learned habits that have been associated with amphetamine and cocaine, two drugs that inundate the brain with pleasure molecules.
In the study, the mice were conditioned to have preference for a location caused by a surge in pleasure molecules. They were administered with low doses of CBD (5 mg/kg) and THC (0.5 mg/kg), and this was successful in helping them disconnect the learned reward from the behavior.
This led the scientists to hypothesize that cannabinoids are extremely beneficial in eliminating conditioned learning, which is valuable in treating addiction.
Another study revealed that 5mg per day of CBD was helpful in relieving conditioned heroin-seeking patterns among animal studies for as long as 2 weeks after they were last given the drug. This is a good sign that CBD may be the key for treating specific types of addiction.