Drug addiction is a serious problem that has caused an unprecedented epidemic in the United States, resulting in more than 300,000 deaths. Despite this, limited non-opioid drug options have been developed to treat addiction. Two of the current options, methadone and buprenorphine, are opioid replacement therapies that work on the same opioid receptors as heroin and other potent opioid agonists. However, these drugs carry a stigma and their own risk of addiction, are mired in strict government regulation, and are therefore underutilized by the millions of people diagnosed with opioid use disorder.
This gap in treatment highlights the urgent need to develop new therapeutic strategies that do not target the mu opioid receptor. Enter cannabidiol (CBD), a non-addictive compound found in cannabis that has been shown to have potential therapeutic benefits for treating addiction. Not only is CBD not addictive, but it can even help treat drug addiction. CBD works by targeting the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is responsible for regulating many physiological processes such as appetite, pain sensation, mood, and memory.
It has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress levels, which can help reduce cravings for drugs and alcohol. Additionally, CBD has been shown to reduce inflammation in the brain, which can help reduce the risk of relapse. In addition to its potential therapeutic benefits for treating addiction, CBD has also been studied for its potential role in treating other conditions such as cancer and alcohol addiction. The role of CBD and cancer is still being investigated, and whether or not CBD can help cancer, either in terms of treating symptoms or helping to slow or prevent the growth of tumors, is not something that the NIH has ruled out, either in terms of what has been promising in studies conducted so far.
Finally, CBD has no potential impact on the intoxication phase due to alcohol addiction in humans34, and again no data were found on the other phases of this addiction. Although it is a promising candidate for drug addiction treatment, more research currently needs to be done before CBD can be safely used to treat drug addiction. The terrible burden of substance use disorder worldwide, combined with the clear need for new drugs in the field of addiction, justifies the need for further studies to evaluate the potential of CBD as a new intervention for addictive behaviors. In conclusion, CBD can provide a potentially alternative way to attack drug addiction without causing more addiction. While CBD appears to have direct effects on addictive behaviors, its therapeutic potential could also be improved with several properties that indirectly contribute to addictive disorders.