The plant that keeps on giving: cannabis shows promise as treatment for heroin addiction

CBD (from the cannabis plant) has just been found to be effective in treating opioid addiction. The miracle herb just got a whole lot more miraculous.

The new study finds that when CBD, the non-psychoactive ingredient in hemp and marijuana, is given to patients with heroin addiction it reduces their cravings for the illicit substance as well as their levels of anxiety.

A new study has found that that cannabis could be an effective treatment for heroin addiction, reducing both cravings and anxieties.

“The intense craving is what drives the drug use”, said Yasmin Hurd, 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.”

In America nearly 400,000 people have died of opioid-related causes since 2000. This is slightly fewer than the number of American troops who died in WWII.

For the study Hurd and her colleagues looked at 42 adults who had a recent history of heroin addiction and were not using methadone or buprenorphine. Recruited from social service groups, halfway houses and treatment centres, the participants had been using heroin for an average of 13 years, and most had gone less than a month without using.

The participants were divided into three groups: one given 800 milligrams of CBD, another 400, and another placebo. All participants were dosed once daily for three consecutive days and followed over the next two weeks.

The groups given CBD had shown a two to three fold reduction in cravings in relation to the placebo group, after being shows pictures of heroin and needles etc. To conclude Hurd said “We are developing a medicine. We are not developing a recreational cannabis”. 

The compound has no addictive qualities, although they are still trying to confirm the perfect combination of compounds.

All in all this is an exciting step in the ever revealing studies on the power and potential of cannabis for medicinal purposes. Hats off to Yasmin Hurd and her team.