Cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive ingredient in hemp and marijuana, could treat opioid addiction, a new study says.
Patients with heroin addiction, CBD, reduced their craving for the illegal drug and their level of anxiety.
"The intense craving drives drug use," said Yasmin Hurd, the lead researcher on the study and director of the Addiction Institute of Mount Sinai. "If we can have the medication that can dampen that [ craving ]it can significantly reduce the likelihood of relapse and overdose risk."
The available drugs for opioid addiction such as buprenorphine and methadone work in a similar way. Curb cravings.
But they are still not widely used.
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According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse Only a third of US patients with opioid addiction in private treatment centers receive this type of medication. According to the general surgeon's addiction report in 2016, only one in five people who had to be treated for opioid use disorders received any therapy.
Public health experts say there are widespread obstacles to obtaining these approved drugs from the United States Food and Drug Administration. Since methadone and buprenorphine are still opioids, those who can prescribe and how much can be prescribed are heavily regulated. In addition, treatment with these drugs may require frequent visits to doctors. "It's really stressful," said Hurd.
Despite their success in reducing mortality in the year after treatment by up to 59% per year, concerns remain about diversion and addiction to these drugs.
"So Many People Die"
Nearly 400,000 Americans have died from opioid-related causes since 2000, slightly less than the number of American troops who died in World War II.
"So. Many people die and there is a need to develop medicines," said Hurd.
For their study, published Tuesday in the American Journal of Psychiatry, Hurd and her colleagues examined 42 adults with a recent history of heroin use and did not use methadone or buprenorphine.
Participants were recruited from groups of social services, intermediate houses, and treatment centers and had used heroin for an average of 13 years, and most were unused for less than a month.
They had to use abs during the entire trial period.
The participants were divided into three groups: one group received 800 milligrams of CBD, another 400 milligrams of CBD, and another a placebo. All participants were dosed once a day for three consecutive days and followed for the next two weeks.
During these two weeks, participants were shown pictures or videos of natural scenes as well as pictures of drug use and heroin-related utensils such as syringes and powder packs that resembled heroin during several sessions.
They were then asked to rate their heroin cravings and anxiety.
One week after the last administration of CBD, those who were given CBD had a two to three-fold reduction in cravings compared to the placebo group. Hurd said the difference between the two CBD groups is insignificant.
The research team also measured heart rate and cortisol, the "stress hormone", and found that levels of those who received CBD were significantly lower than those who received CBD had not received the drug.
Researchers used Epidiolex, the first cannabis-based drug approved by the FDA, as a source of CBD.
Many CBD products on the market do not know the exact concentration of CBD. They can also contain additives such as pesticides and even lead.
But, said Hurd, Epidiolex knows the exact concentration and other ingredients of the drug, which was crucial.
"We are developing a drug. We are not developing recreational cannabis," she said.
The participants reported very few bad reactions such as mild diarrhea, headache and fatigue.
These results are similar to those of a pilot study that Hurd conducted, but it says that the next step is to conduct a long-term study in which the subjects are followed up to six months.
The potential of the study was not lost on others.
"This is an extremely important paper. We need to use every possible treatment to help people with chronic pain, to find other ways to relieve their symptoms, and to provide relief to people with opiate addiction," said Dr. Julie Holland, a psychiatrist in New York and former assistant professor of psychiatry y at the New York University School of Medicine.
"CBD not only manages the anxiety and cue / craving cycle, it also reduces the initial pain and inflammation that leads to opiate use," said Holland, who was not involved in the new study.
Hurd said there are still many questions to be answered in the next study, including the best dose, how often to give, and the mechanism in the brain that works to relieve cravings.
But she was optimistic about the effects.
"It's not addictive. Nobody distracts it. It doesn't get you up, but it can reduce cravings and anxiety," she said. Ultimately, "this can really help save lives."
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