A potentially groundbreaking new study suggests that drug addicts could stay clean by taking marijuana instead.
An extraordinary new report suggests that marijuana could be an important tool in the fight against drug addiction, despite being long vilified as a dangerous and addictive drug itself. Specifically, scientists found that a non-psychoactive component of marijuana known as cannabidiol, or CBD, can reduce the risk of relapse as people recover from addictions to drugs and alcohol.
The findings, published this week in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, are based on a study involving rats by researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in California. CBD had already been considered for treating pain and psychiatric disorders, but this new report suggests it has uses in fighting drug and alcohol addiction.
Researchers applied a gel to the skin of rats that contained CBD and had addiction like behavior due to alcohol or cocaine. They found that CBD caused a reduction in relapse even with stress and drug cues, a finding that still showed even five months later.
“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,” Friedbert Weiss, leader of an investigative team at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, said in a statement. “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.” He goes on to say that “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.”