One week of treatment with a non-psychoactive cannabis compound could help drug addicts and alcoholics from relapsing for months.
Researchers gave cannabidiol (CBD oil) to rats that consumed either alcohol or cocaine every day. The animals received a daily treatment of the CBD in gel form for a single week, according to the study published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.
The goal was to see whether the treatment could reduce the rats’ intake of their substance of choice, the study said, and specifically whether it would help them fight off the urge to get their fix while under stressful conditions.
It turns out that the CBD helped the critters consume less alcohol or cocaine, even when they were put into anxiety-inducing situations that might push them to take more. And the rats that had the gel applied to their skin were also less anxious and less impulsive, the study says.
Those results weren’t temporary — scientists say a one-week treatment provided beneficial results for up to five months, even though the CBD was completely cleared from the rats’ plasma and brains within three days.
Friedbert Weiss, leader of an investigative team at the Scripps Research Institute, said in a press release that his study gives “proof of principle supporting potential of CBD in relapse prevention,” as the substance helped the rats resist certain would-be triggers and provided positive results for months.
“Drug addicts enter relapse vulnerability states for multiple reasons,” he said. “Therefore, effects such as these observed with CBD that concurrently ameliorate several of these are likely to be more effective in preventing relapse than treatments targeting only a single state.”
CBD — which lacks THC, the component in cannabis responsible for getting users “high” — is often used as a medical treatment for certain illnesses.