Cannabis-based drugs can be used to help stop heroin addicts, according to research.
A study has shown that CBD – a substance called cannabidiol that occurs in cannabis but does not make people so high – can reduce the craving for drugs.
Increasingly popular as a health supplement, although its benefits are being discussed, CBD is now readily available in high street shops.
Scientists have found that giving heroin addicts can reduce their cravings by as much as 300 percent and make them less anxious or stressed.
CBD – cannabidiol – is a chemical found in cannabis that does not make people high and is increasingly available as a legal supplement in high street shops (stock image)
Researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York tested the effects of cannabis-based drugs, Epidiolex.
Epidiolex is a CBD medication approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and is designed to reduce seizures in epilepsy patients.
The research, led by Dr. Yasmin Hurd, followed her earlier work that found that CBD reduced heroin addiction in animals.
It is because the US is in the grip of an opioid epidemic, in which nearly 400,000 people die from drug overdoses, including heroin, morphine and fentanyl since 2000.
Craving is a major problem for recovering addicts because they relapse them and can lead to an overdose if their tolerance drops while they were clean.
Drugs that have already been used to help heroin addicts, such as methadone, cause concern because they are part of the same drug class as heroin, are self-addictive and are under strict government control.
CBD, however, turned out not to be addictive and is available and affordable everywhere.
& # 39; Our findings indicate that CBD is promising for the treatment of people with heroin use disorder & # 39 ;, said Dr. Hurd.
CAN CANNABIS HELP ALCOHOL AND COCAINE ADDICTIONS WHEN THEIR DEPENDENTS?
A supplement derived from cannabis can help alcohol and cocaine addicts overcome their cravings, research in March 2018 suggested.
Recovery of rats with cannabidiol (CBD) has less chance of recurrence when exposed to drugs, according to a study by the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California.
This is believed to be due to the supplement that relieves anxiety and stress, as well as reducing impulsive behavior, according to the researchers.
After just three days after receiving CBD, it is still less likely that the recovering rats will recur again five months later, the study shows.
The researchers hope that the findings will help in the development of treatments to prevent drug relapse.
CBD is a cannabis-derived dietary supplement that is thought to have a range of medicinal benefits and has been reported to help people suffering from migraine, psoriasis, acne and depression.
Legally in the UK it does not contain THC, which is the psychoactive component of marijuana that users & # 39; high & # 39; makes.
Speaking of the findings, the lead author Dr. Friedbert Weiss said: “The effectiveness of the CBD to reduce recovery in rats with both alcohol and cocaine – and, as previously reported, heroin histories, predicts therapeutic potential for addiction treatment in different classes of abused drugs.
& # 39; The results provide evidence of supporting the potential of CBD in relapse prevention on two dimensions: beneficial actions in different vulnerability states and long-term effects with just a short treatment.
& # 39; Successful non-opioid medication would make a significant contribution to the existing addiction medication toolbox to help reduce the growing number of deaths, huge health care costs and treatment restrictions imposed by strict government regulations amidst this ongoing opioid epidemic. & # 39;
She said CNN: & # 39; (CBD) doesn't get you high, but it can reduce desire and anxiety … This can really help save lives. & # 39;
In Dr. Hurd's study, a group of 42 former heroin addicts was divided into three groups and received 800 mg of a CBD solution, 400 mg or a placebo.
After being addicted to heroin for 13 years, people were forced to watch videos of people who used drugs or injected and resembled packages of powder similar to heroin.
Patients were then asked to assess their cravings for drugs and anxiety levels, and experts measured their body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate.
Men and women in CBD groups were found to estimate their cravings two to three times lower than the placebo group.
The CBD also reduced the heart rate and blood pressure of the former addicts, as well as their cortisol levels – a stress hormone – suggesting it calmed them down.
And the amount of CBD that someone received did not seem to affect the amount with which their answers changed, it was just an on or off effect.
The side effects were mild, with only a few patients suffering from headache, fatigue or diarrhea.
The use of cannabis to stop heroin is not a new phenomenon and has been reported by users for years, an expert said.
Ian Hamilton, a lecturer in mental health care and researcher of addiction diseases at the University of York, told MailOnline: & # 39; The idea that some chemicals found in cannabis can help people who have opiate problems has been discussed for some time , especially by patients who have tried to use cannabis to facilitate their withdrawal from heroin.
& # 39; So this new study adds some evidence that cannabidiol has potential to help.
& # 39; However, a lot of work still needs to be done to understand the best dose and how long it should be given. & # 39;
Dr. Julie Holland, a psychiatrist in New York who was not involved in the investigation, agreed that the breakthrough was promising.
& # 39; This is an extremely important paper & # 39 ;, she told CNN.
& # 39; We need to use every possible treatment to help people with chronic pain find other ways to control their symptoms and for people with opiate addiction to find relief.
& # 39; CBD not only manages the anxiety and cue / craving cycle, it also reduces the initial pain and inflammation that leads to opiate use in the first place. & # 39;
Dr. Hurd's research was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
She plans to follow up studies to understand exactly how CBD affects the brain and to investigate its effects over a longer period of time.
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