A potential new treatment for opioid addiction has been found in a new review of previous research of cannabidiol (CBD). Opioids, which are derived from the opium poppy or synthetic forms, include prescription drugs such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, and morphine as well as the more illicit form, heroin. The research of marijuana compounds (cannabinoids) for treating opioid addiction has been limited due to regulations that restrict testing in humans.
The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) at present classifies marijuana and individual cannabinoids derived from it as Schedule I drugs which means they are viewed as having a high potential for abuse and lack medicinal value. Under this classification, it makes it immensely more difficult for researchers to gain permission to study cannabidiol as well as requires them to follow complicated procedures to obtain the drugs for research according to Yasmin Hurd, a professor of neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City and author of the review.
Hurd reviewed previous animal and human studies examining cannabidiol for treating opioid addiction and in one particular study published in 2009 in the Journal of Neuroscience found that cannabidiol decreased opioid cravings in rodents that had been trained to self-administer opioids. Another small study on humans from the journal Neurotherapeutics, found the cannabidiol helped to reduce cravings in people addicted to heroin and lasted for a week after cannabidiol was administered.
While the it is not exactly clear why cannabidiol helps reduce cravings related to addiction it is believed that based on a review of research in animals and humans that cannabidiol helps to control anxiety which is a key component of addiction that contributes to cravings and increases the chances of relapse. The advantage of cannabidiol as a potential treatment for opioid addiction is that it doesn’t give users a high and thus doesn’t involve a risk of misuse. Given the ongoing opioid abuse epidemic in the United States, new research into cannabidiol as a treatment is particularly important and considering the purpose should be expedited.