Clinical trial finds CBD does not help cocaine addicts kick the habit
Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, is rapidly gaining popularity as a potion to treat almost every kind of medical concern you can think of, but scientific evidence is scant outside of a few clinically proven indications. A new study from a team of Canadian researchers is reporting on the results of a unique clinical trial testing the efficacy of CBD helping cocaine addicts kick the habit.
One of the more interesting clinical uses for CBD currently being explored is the role it can play in treating addiction. Recent studies have suggested CBD can help reduce heroin cravings and even counter-intuitively be used to reduce problematic cannabis use.
An intriguing study, published last year in the journal Neurotherapeutics, explored the mechanisms by which CBD could influence the effects of cocaine withdrawal. The research, conducted in mouse models, found CBD essentially alleviates some of the behavioral and gene expression alterations induced by cocaine. In other words, the study suggested CBD can hypothetically counteract many of cocaine’s negative withdrawal symptoms.
This new study, published in the journal Addiction, presents the results of a blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial testing whether CBD can help cocaine addicts. The trial recruited 78 with moderate to severe cocaine use disorder.
The subjects were recruited upon entering hospital for a 10-day detox treatment. Before the detox the subjects were blindly divided into either a placebo group or a CBD group (800 mg per day). For the next three months the cohort received weekly check-ups.
At the end of the 12-week study all but three subjects had relapsed into cocaine use – one in the placebo group, two in the CBD group. There were also no significant differences in drug‐cue induced cocaine cravings between the CBD and placebo groups.
"In our study, the use of CBD was not more effective than a placebo in treating cocaine use disorder," says Violaine Mongeau-Pérusse, first author on the new study. "Although it is safe and produces only mild side effects, CBD reduces neither the craving to use cocaine nor the risk of a user's relapse after detoxification.”
Another similar trial recently published its results testing whether CBD can reduce cravings or withdrawal symptoms in a small cohort of subjects with crack-cocaine addiction. The trial tested a very different CBD protocol, looking at the effects of 300 mg of CBD per day for 10 days following a five day detox process.
Here the researchers also found no beneficial effect from CBD in relation to drug cravings compared to a placebo. However, the Brazilian team behind this trial suggests there may still be therapeutic potential in different CBD doses or treatment protocols.
“Under the conditions of this trial, CBD was unable to interfere with symptoms of crack-cocaine withdrawal,” the researchers write in the study. “Further studies with larger outpatient samples involving different doses and treatment periods would be desirable and timely to elucidate the potential of CBD to induce reductions in crack-cocaine self-administration.”
So the data is still very much unclear as to how beneficial CBD may be in treating addiction. It could certainly be effective in helping treat some types of addiction but it certainly does not seem to be a magic anti-addiction potion for all drugs, and scientists are yet to home in on the optimal ways to administer CBD as a tool in addiction treatment.
The new study was published in the journal Addiction.