Because CBD has no proven adverse side effects and is not habit-forming, it shows potential as a promising alternative treatment for addiction.
Opioid use is rampant in the U.S. as a result of the use of heroin and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and the rise in prescription opioid abuse. In 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Services declared a public health emergency, announcing a comprehensive strategy to combat the opioid crisis.
Louisiana’s opiate problem is not yet comparable to those of the Appalachian and Rust Belt states, but the Pelican State should still be concerned about its addiction and drug overdose rates. The state has the sixth-highest opioid pain-reliever prescribing rate in the U.S., and the overdose rate in Louisiana is above the national average.
The statistics are telling in New Orleans as well. The 166 opioid addiction-related overdoses in New Orleans in 2017 were double the number from the previous year, for instance. This mirrors the spike in large cities across the country but is troubling nonetheless.
How CBD May Help Treat Addiction
That is why looking at CBD (short for cannabidiol) as a potential ally in alleviating the opioid epidemic is relevant on both national and local levels. Decades-long research has shown that CBD has many health and wellness benefits, some of which make it a great candidate for fighting the opioid epidemic. Those include:
- CBD has pain relief potential, so it could replace opioids in that capacity.
- CBD is non-addictive, making it a more appealing pain-relieving option than highly addictive opiates.
- Users have not been shown to build a tolerance to CBD, as they can when taking opioids.
- CBD is non-toxic.
- CBD is safe and legal for use, primarily because it does not contain THC or have psychoactive properties.
Treatment for Those Already Addicted to Opiates
Particularly promising is studying how CBD could help minimize withdrawal symptoms associated with substance abuse, including opioid addiction and smoking cessation.
Several studies have shown CBD can potentially help manage addictive behavior as well as reduce withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, nausea, mood swings, stress, insomnia, and cravings.
A 2015 review of nine animal and five human studies, published in the journal Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment, looked at the impact of CBD on addictive behaviors and concluded that CBD is “thought to modulate various neuronal circuits involved in drug addiction.” The review suggested that “CBD may have therapeutic properties on opioid, cocaine, and psychostimulant addiction […] and some preliminary data suggest that it may be beneficial in cannabis and tobacco addiction in humans.”
Overall, CBD has shown great potential for preventing opiate addiction by providing a non-addictive alternative for pain and stress relief, and for treating opiate addiction by easing symptoms of withdrawal. In addition, a growing body of research shows CBD’s positive effect on brain chemistry. As evidence accumulates supporting CBD’s potential in treating addiction, Louisiana and other states would do well to add it to their toolkits for fighting the opioid epidemic.