Exciting new research has found that CBD may help curb the cravings of opioid and heroin addiction.

CBD or Cannabidiol non-psychoactive ingredient comes from the cannabis plant, but it does not get you high. CBD is not addictive. And it can reduce craving and anxiety.

This new study has found that after receiving either an oral CBD solution, participants had reduced cue-driven cravings and anxiety.

“Our findings indicate that CBD holds significant promise for treating individuals with heroin use disorder,” said Yasmin Hurd -director of the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai in New York City.

“The intense craving is what drives the drug use,” said Hurd,  “If we can have the medications that can dampen that [craving], that can greatly reduce the chance of relapse and overdose risk.”

“A successful non-opioid medication would add significantly to the existing addiction medication toolbox to help reduce the growing death toll, enormous health care costs, and treatment limitations imposed by stringent government regulations amid this persistent opioid epidemic,” she said in a Mount Sinai news release. [1]

CBD fights The Opioid Crisis

 

The Study

Recruited from social services groups, halfway houses and treatment centers, the participants had used heroin for an average of 13 years, and most had gone less than a month without using. They had to abstain from any heroin use for the entire trial period.

The double-blind, randomized controlled trial (RCT) saw 42 participants 21 to 65, divided into three groups — one of which was given 800 milligrams of CBD, another 400 milligrams of CBD, and the last, a placebo. The researchers used Epidiolex, the first FDA-approved cannabis-based medication, as their source of CBD. All 42 participants were dosed once daily for three consecutive days; they were observed and studied over the next two weeks. [2]

Over two weeks and several sessions, the participants were shown images or videos of nature, as well as images of drug use, then asked to rate their cravings for opioid and their levels of anxiety.

A week after the participants had received their final dose, researchers found those who had been given CBD had a two-to-three-fold reduction in cravings relative to the placebo group and that their levels of cortisol, aka the “stress hormone,” was significantly lower too. 

Why This Matters

We have to do more about the drug crisis. Did you know that  Drug overdose deaths rose above 70,000 in 2017, a record high and an increase of almost 10 percent from the previous year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention?

 Young adults and teens have been hit hardest by the opioid epidemic. In fact, death rates among younger adults have risen so much that they have reduced the overall life expectancy for the U.S. population as a whole.

CBD and The Opioid Crisis

In my own fight with Lyme Disease, I’ve been prescribed painkillers, muscle relaxers, anti-depressants, anti-spasmatic drugs, and anti-anxiety drugs frequently.

I’ve been urged by several doctors to take these medications, knowing that they are addictive and have a long list of terrible side-effects. But medical professionals are forbidden to suggest cannabis is a healthy non-addictive treatment that would replace all of those prescriptions!

Recent studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that in states where people could legally use marijuana, the number of filled opioid prescriptions dropped significantly, and there were lower rates of opioid overdose and death, compared with states without legal cannabis.

Addiction is a brain disease

Addiction is a complex brain disease that is manifested by compulsive use of a substance, despite harmful consequences.  It is classified as a disease because the addiction changes how the brain processes information. 

Cannabis can help people move away from opioids, it’s been proven effective in treating alcoholism and even cocaine addiction.  Each year, people are refusing prescription painkillers, replacing it with cannabis. We know opioids are dangerous and addictive, and those of us with chronic pain know we need other options.

 “We’re in the middle of a huge movement in CBD research, but the Mount Sinai study is not the first,” said Dr. Danesh Alam, medical director of behavioral health at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital, who was not involved in the study, to NBC News. “We’ve seen results like this from studies done in the heroin population in 2015-16. There are many chemicals found in marijuana, including CBD that need to be studied further, but the restrictions on marijuana research have set us back.”

We have had great success with hemp CBD for those that don't have access to marijuana. Or those who aren't comfortable with THC.

The Opioid Crisis Is Costing Us More Than Money

Just in the United States since 2001, the opioid crisis has cost us well over 1 trillion dollars, and that cost is growing. But it isn’t just about the money, it is costing us lives. Families are being torn apart, our prison system is filled with people who suffer from this disease and are criminalized trying to fight it.

We need to focus on what we know is working. We need more research on how we can help treat people with this illness with a proven viable option.

Related: CBD for Anxiety

Why this is personal for me

The drug addiction problem affects everyone.  In your life, I am sure you know someone whose life has been changed due to drug use.

My uncle, Steve, was a prescription drug addict, and he ultimately died fighting this addiction by his own hand because he was tired of disappointing his family and living in pain.  He was a great guy, but the craving for opioids was stronger than he was.

But it goes beyond that. This illness in my family has been passed down from generation to generation.  Having an addictive trait in my family line has gone way back.  My birth mother’s family is filled with people addicted to drugs and alcohol.  Even she was an addict, going from one addiction to another through her whole life.

I am so thankful that I was adopted out of the drama of it all, but it was always something that I was very aware of for myself and my children, that genetically we have the possibility for addiction.  So I never drank, never tried drugs, and when I became sick, I have been a challenging patient because I refuse most prescriptions because I am afraid of the addiction issue.

What I learned from this

In writing this article, it really struck me how this epidemic reaches everyone.   I didn’t realize that my own life and the lives of my children had been touched by the drug crisis because we don’t have a problem.  But it has, and I am so surprised.  In my own family, we have had to navigate our lives to ensure that we aren’t trapped in the cycle.

A couple of years ago, I had major leg surgery.  I was so scared to take the painkillers they were telling me I needed to take.  I made a choice to use CBD instead, and it worked for me. The first few days after the surgery was harsh, but the CBD took the edge off the pain, and I used topical salves to help the healing and the pain in my leg.  I even saw a dramatic change in my scar after I was able to get to the surgical site and apply CBD to the scar. For me, having the peace of mind that I wasn’t taking a chance with dangerous drugs helped.

Look, I’m not saying that CBD or cannabis is the sole solution to this crisis.  But I am saying that even if it only helps a quarter of the people, that is enough for me.  And we need more research, we must demand that we have more studies done on the possibility that we can help.   The best way we can make sure this research is done is by legalizing cannabis, opening it up for more study, and taking away the stigma of cannabis use.

When we take away the stigma of cannabis use, we allow more people to try for themselves without the fear of judgment.  I would much rather be seen taking cannabis in CBD or even THC, healing myself without the fear of addiction, than living a life of pain because someone else has a negative opinion over my healthcare options.

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