An animal study finds that cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive chemical found in marijuana, may help reduce the risk of drug and alcohol relapse. The research, conducted by the Scripps Research Institute, was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, both part of the National Institutes of Health.
The researchers applied a gel containing CBD every day for a week to the skin of the rats with a history of daily alcohol or cocaine self-administration. The CBD appeared to be effective in reducing reinstatement of drug-taking — considered a model of drug and alcohol relapse. It also reduced anxiety and impulsivity often associated with drug dependence. Notably, the reduced reinstatement, which was induced by stress or drug-related environmental cues, lasted for five months after the initial treatment was discontinued, when CBD was no longer detectable in either blood or brain.
CBD has been studied as a treatment for certain severe childhood epilepsy syndromes. These findings reinforce other possible therapeutic benefits of non-psychoactive cannabinoids, but the authors highlight the need for additional research on the use of CBD for relapse prevention.
For a copy of the abstract, go to "Unique treatment potential of cannabidiol for the prevention of relapse to drug use: Preclinical proof of principle," published in Neuropsychopharmacology.
For more information about cannabinoids/marijuana, visit NIDA's medical marijuana webpage.
For more information about drug and alcohol relapse prevention, visit NIDA's treatment approaches to drug addiction webpage.
NIDA Press Office
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