While cannabis may not be physically addictive like many other widely used drugs, some weed users can find it tough to kick their habit. In fact, up to 22 million people worldwide have some degree of cannabis dependency that affects their daily life.
Currently, there are no agreed-upon drug treatments for cannabis addiction, but a new trial suggests that cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive component of cannabis often found in supplements and oils, could be used as a tool to help wean people off their problematic weed use.
Reported in The Lancet Psychiatry journal, scientists in the UK gave either two doses of CBD or placebo to 82 people with a cannabis use disorder who wanted to quit using weed but had previously failed to do so. Their findings show that a hefty daily dose of CBD helped people to significantly cut down their cannabis use. The drug was also proved to be perfectly safe with no side effects or adverse reactions.
“The results from our trial open up a novel therapeutic strategy for managing problematic cannabis use in clinical settings,” Dr Tom Freeman, lead study author and director of the Addiction and Mental Health Group within the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath, explained in a statement.
“Whilst it may seem counterintuitive to treat problematic cannabis use with CBD – a constituent part of the cannabis plant – THC and CBD have contrasting effects on our own endogenous cannabinoid system. Unlike THC, CBD does not produce intoxicating or rewarding effects and it shows potential for treating several other medical disorders.”
For the phase 2a trial, researchers gave 48 participants a daily dose of 400 milligrams of CBD, 800 milligrams of CBD, or a placebo (a preliminary stage of the study involving 34 volunteers found that 200 milligrams of CBD was ineffective, so they dropped it from the trial).
After four weeks on this treatment, the participants treated with CBD had cut down on their weed use compared to those treated with a placebo, with these participants reporting lower levels of cannabis in their urine and an increased number of days they abstained from using cannabis.
The researchers did not look to explain the mechanism behind these findings. However, it’s not the first piece of research that suggests CBD could be used to help people kick drug addiction. In one study, researchers argued that CBD can help curb cravings and anxiety in people with a history of heroin abuse. There’s also mounting evidence that CBD holds some medicinal value in the treatment of conditions like depression, anxiety, insomnia, and epilepsy.
That said, CBD is attached to a lot of bogus claims too. Late last year, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) put out a statement warning that many of the lofty claims of CBD manufacturers are not scientifically proven and could be misleading consumers.
In regards to this concern, the researchers of this new study warned that people should avoid self-medication with commercial CBD products that are available without a prescription as they lack quality assurance. If you are concerned about your cannabis use, then the best bet is to seek medical advice from a trained professional.