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Rat study shows CBD could treat drug addiction

Addicts may be able to find long-term relief, according to new research which suggests that the cannabis compound may help users to stay sober. A scientific journal recently published the study, which investigated the effects of CBD on sobriety in lab rats.

CBD, or cannabidiol, is something of a miracle molecule – found in cannabis plants, it is neither intoxicating nor psychoactive but has a range of medicinal uses. CBD is both a neuroprotectant and anti-psychotic compound and has demonstrated its potential as a treatment for conditions such as Alzheimer’s and psychosis. Researchers now want to find out whether it can help addicts through the recovery process.

Friedbert Weiss and his colleagues at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, have been studying how cocaine and alcohol-addicted rats respond to CBD treatment.

Topical treatment

The rats used in the study had either self-administered alcohol or cocaine and displayed addictive behaviors due to their consumption of the substance. The scientists treated the rats with a CBD-infused gel, applying the topical once a day for a whole week. After the medicating period was over, the rats demonstrated a soberer attitude when faced with stressful situations. Humans and rats tend to be most vulnerable during stressful times in their recovery phase – relapsing into addiction is a common response to anxiety and stress.

The research team identified to key benefits of using CBD to treat addiction. The relapse rate of the medicated rats was reduced, and these rats also exhibited less anxiety and fewer instances of impulsive behavior. CBD has been studied as a possible treatment for opioid addiction, and has produced similarly encouraging findings.

Research leader Weiss spoke positively about the results of the investigation. He said that “several classes of abused drugs” which cause addiction may potentially be treatable with CBD – studies on rats now show the compound’s effectiveness at breaking alcohol, cocaine and heroine addiction.

Weiss added that the study offered the “proof of principle” that CBD could be used to prevent relapse, noting that it helped with varying degrees of vulnerability, and that even a short treatment plan could have significant long-term effects.

These two perks of CBD only enhance the treatment potential of the cannabinoid. However, there are other factors that contribute to a person’s ability to end addiction and stay sober during and after recovery.

That CBD works in two separate ways to treat addiction suggests that the compound may be more efficacious than medication that just targets a single type of vulnerability.

Final thoughts – can CBD really help addicts stay sober?

The one-week CBD treatment period for the rats had remarkable effects in the long run. The research showed that the CBD products had exited the systems of the treated rats a mere three days after treatment finished, however the effects of the cannabis chemical were still on show a long time after.

The scientists continued to study the rats after they finished treatment, and the beneficial aspects of CBD therapy were still being exhibited in some of the subjects five months later. When exposed to stress or anxiety-inducing scenarios, the treated rats still relapsed at a reduced rate to those left untreated.

The Neuropsychopharmacology journal is set to publish an article after it has been edited and peer reviewed. The preliminary findings of the study are, however, available to read online.

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