Cannabidiol Reduces Drug Cravings in Individuals with Heroin Use Disorder

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, each day, more than 130 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids. Despite that fact that we are in the midst of an opioid epidemic, there remains limited (non-opioid) options to treat opioid use disorders. However, a promising new study from New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital suggests that CBD may be a potential treatment option.

Approximately 40 individuals with heroin use disorder were provided CBD once daily for three consecutive days and shown videos of “neutral” nature scenes or “drug-related” images. Researchers measured drug cravings, anxiety, and several physiological indicators, such as heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, skin temperature, and blood oxygen levels, immediately after administering CBD, 24 hours later, and a week after the final dose of CBD.

In contrast to placebo, CBD administration significantly reduced both cravings and anxiety induced by the presentation of drug cues compared with neutral cues, as well as reduced some drug cue-induced physiological measures, such as heart rate. There were no significant effects on cognition and no serious adverse effects were reported.

According to the study authors, the effects of CBD on cue-induced drug craving are important in the development of addiction treatment because environmental cues are one of the strongest triggers for use and relapse. Based on the results of this study, further research is warranted to determine the long-term safety and efficacy of CDB  as a treatment option for opioid use disorder.

Citation: Hurd YL, Spriggs S, Alishayev J, Winkel G, Gurgov K, Kudrich C…Salsitz E. Cannabidiol for the reduction of cue-induced craving and anxiety in drug-abstinent individuals with heroin use disorder: A double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial. Am J Psychiatry. 2019 May 21:appiajp201918101191.

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