A non-intoxicating component of cannabis, cannabidiol (CBD), may be useful as a drug to help people quit smoking cigarettes, according to a new study led by Chandni Hindocha (UCL Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit). The study found that after a single dose of CBD treatment, heavy daily smokers find smoking-related cues less visually attention-grabbing. As visual cues - such as seeing friends smoking - often trigger relapses in those who have quit, CBD could help people stop smoking. For the study, 30 dependent cigarette smokers came into the lab after smoking normally or abstaining for 12 hours from smoking, and were given pills of either CBD or a placebo, on separate occasions. The participants who received CBD showed less attentional bias to tobacco-related stimuli than in the placebo condition (to the point that their attentional bias was no greater than when satiated with nicotine when they smoked normally), and also rated smoking-related images as less pleasant. Prior research has found that attentional bias is common in many addictive disorders, is heightened during abstinence, can predict short-term relapse, and may play a causal role in maintaining addiction. Researchers believe that attentional bias occurs because of changes in the reward pathway of the brain caused by years of smoking, the participants' attention was drawn to drug-related images. While craving and withdrawal symptoms were unaffected, the researchers say they will follow up with clinical trials using longer-term treatment with multiple doses, to see if craving and withdrawal symptoms will then be affected, and if CBD can help maintain abstinence. CBD is the second most abundant cannabinoids in cannabis. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is not intoxicating, and has been shown to have broad therapeutic benefits without harmful side effects. Existing drugs for smoking cessation are not effective for the majority of people who take them, and some have substantial side effects. The researchers say their early results suggest that CBD is a promising candidate for a new treatment option. Chandni Hindocha, warns people against buying CBD as a wellness product/nutraceutical: "I would also like to add that the CBD you can buy in stores is not of the same quality and strength as what we provided in this study, so we are not encouraging people to try treating themselves."
Neglected treatment option for opioid addiction: medical marijuana.
The United States is in the midst of an opioid addiction crisis. How big is this problem? Forty-four people in the United States die every day from prescription opioid overdose; the number increases to 78 every day when we include heroin. Almost 7,000 people are treated in emergency rooms in the United States every day for misuse of a prescription opioid. In 2010, one in 20 people over the age of 12 used opioid medications non-medically or had used it other than as prescribed. Between 1999 and 2010, the sales of prescription opioids quadrupled, and so did the rate of opioid overdose deaths. Enough opioids were prescribed in 2010 to give a one-month supply of 5mg of hydrocodone every four hours to every adult in the United States. And since then the problem has only gotten worse. One in three prescriptions filled for opioids are currently being abused. The estimated cost of opioid abuse is $56 billion per year. Baby boomers are four times more likely to abuse opioids than millennials. In terms of geography, the states with the worst opioid addiction problem are in the South. But Maine is following closely behind in rates of opioid prescriptions that are filled. While America claims only 5 percent of the world’s population, we consume 80 percent of the world’s opioids. We’re using opioids far more than any other country—to the extent that some countries actually have trouble accessing opioids for important reasons like post-surgical or end-of-life treatment. Analgesia can be hard to come by in some Third World countries—while we’re using it all up. In the United States, nearly 50 percent of people who take opioids for more than 30 days in the first year continue to use opioids for three years or longer. Half of them are being prescribed short-acting opioids, the type that Big Pharma opioid manufacturers say is more likely to lead to addiction and abuse. Nearly 60 percent of U.S. patients are taking opiates in combination with other drugs that are known to make the opioids more dangerous, to make an overdose more likely.
Study finds CBD effective in treating heroin addiction
Cannabidiol, the non-psychoactive ingredient in hemp and marijuana, could treat opioid addiction, a new study says. Given to patients with heroin addiction, cannabidiol, also known as CBD, reduced their cravings for the illicit drug as well as their levels of anxiety. "The intense craving is what drives the 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 medications that can dampen that [craving], that can greatly reduce the chance of relapse and overdose risk." The available medications for opioid addiction, such as buprenorphine and methadone, act in a similar way, curbing cravings. But they are still not widely used. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, just one-third of US patients with opioid dependence in private treatment centers actually receive these kinds of medications. According to the 2016 surgeon general's report on addiction, only 1 in 5 people who needed treatment for opioid use disorders was receiving any sort of therapy.
Public health experts say there are obstacles to getting these drugs, which are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, widely distributed. Because methadone and buprenorphine are still opioids, who can prescribe and how much can be prescribed are highly regulated. In addition, treatment with these medications can require frequent visits with practitioners. "It's really burdensome," Hurd said. Concerns about diversion and addiction to these drugs remain, despite their success in reducing mortality by up to 59% a year in the year after treatment.