Can Alcohol and Opioid Cravings Be Managed With CBD?

With CBD showing up in every damn thing everywhere—if your toothpaste doesn’t have CBD in it, you’re smiling all wrong—it can be easy to forget that despite the vastly overblown hype, CBD can actually do some amazing things.

Two new studies show that CBD may be valuable tool for reducing cravings for alcohol and opioids. That’s sort of a huge deal, as every day in the US, more than 130 people die from opioids, and more than 240 die from alcohol.

High Times reports on a new study titled “Cannabidiol [AKA CBD] for the Reduction of Cue-Induced Craving and Anxiety in Drug-Abstinent Individuals with Heroin Use Disorder.”

The study was designed to review “the results of acute, short-term and protracted CBD consumption on drug cue-induced craving and anxiety in individuals trying to quit heroin.”

Subjects in the study received 400 mg or 800 mg of CBD a day for three days, via Epidiolex, the first cannabis-based drug approved by the FDA. Then, researchers exposed subjects to “drug-cues designed to stimulate physiological responses to addiction.”

They found that the high doses of CBD “significantly reduced both craving and anxiety” and not just that same day.

Rather, for up to seven days after taking the CBD, participants continued to experience reduced opioid cravings, all while having no impairment issues upon users.

Researchers concluded: “There were no significant effects on cognition, and there were no serious adverse effects.” The CBD also reduced the stress hormone cortisol in participants. The authors of the study determined that “CBD’s potential to reduce cue-induced craving and anxiety provides a strong basis for further investigation of the phytocannabinoid as a treatment option for opioid use disorder.”

Those struggling with alcohol use disorders (AUD) may find CBD to be a valuable tool as well. Marijuana Moment reports on a paper that reviewed 26 studies between 1974 and 2018 that examined animals dosed with ethanol, and the effects of CBD on those animals.

They found that CBD served to reduce relapses in mice, even when exposed to stress, from alcohol once they had weaned off it. They also found CBD seemingly helped protect the brains and livers of animal subjects from numerous negative results of alcohol.

For the liver, they saw a reduction in “oxidative stress, inflammation control, and the death of certain cells responsible for large amounts of scar tissue” brought on by alcohol.

For the brain, CBD served as a “neuroprotective antioxidant” in the rat subjects, resulting in “significantly” fewer lost brain cells in the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex.

In another of the studies reviewed, the CBD given to rats in acute liver failure “restored the neurological and cognitive functions.”

As the paper notes, no human subjects were studied, and the authors encourage more studies examining CBD and alcohol be performed, writing that the medicines currently available to help those with AUD are “insufficiently effective at a population level, and new therapeutic prospects are needed. Moreover, no drug for reducing alcohol-related harms, either on the brain or the liver, has ever been studied.”

Josh Taylor is a well-known and successful entrepreneur in the legal cannabis space, producing B2B and B2C cannabis events, "Backstage Budtending" and upscale concierge services through his companies and His weekly syndicated newspaper column and features about cannabis ran for five years until March 2020.

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