Nothing short of a total mind shift in how we treat addiction will solve the opioid epidemic, and CBD must be part of the solution, says Dr. Yasmin Hurd, a renowned professor of Neuroscience, Psychiatry, and Pharmacology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, whose work has been cited more than 5,000 times.
In an editorial she wrote for the American Journal of Psychiatry, she said: “Several recent studies suggest that in states with medical marijuana laws there’s been a reduction in opioid-related deaths, opioid prescriptions and opioid-related motor vehicle fatalities.”
Dr. Hurd, who is also an elected member of the American Academy of Medicine, said studies show that CBD reduces the reward-seeking effect that morphine has on individuals with opioid-use disorder, which she calls “a chronic brain disorder that requires long-term treatment.”
Clinical trials have also suggested that CBD “reduces cue-induced cravings and anxiety in individuals who are trying to kick heroin use,” she said.
Since at least 1974, experimental animal research has been suggesting that CBD can treat addiction, with no side effects.
It is now clear that this extraordinary finding also applies to humans.
“Intriguingly … cannabidiol resulted in a maintained reduction in heroin craving even a week after the last administration,” said Dr. Hurd, who also heads the Mount Sinai Addictions Institute in New York.
This finding may be of particular benefit in treating opioid-use disorder, she said, “because the protective effects in reducing craving, and thus risk of relapse, could be maintained even if the individual has missed a daily dose,” she said.
Unfortunately, the remarkable research findings regarding CBD’s impact on opioid use have yet to convince federal US regulators that cannabidiol does not belong on the list of a schedule I drugs.
Dr. Hurd’s hope is that more clinical trials, fast-tracked from pre-clinical studies, will help revise federal regulations “so that a full battery of research can be explored to determine the potential of cannabidiol for opioid-use-disorder treatment.”
She calls for an approach that involves input from patients and their families as well as making physicians and the general public aware of new medications.
“One hundred seventy-five years ago, when the first issue of what would become the American Journal of Psychiatry appeared, the Opium Wars dominated life in Asia.
“There is much to be learned after 175 years that will help transform the clinical toolbox in the coming years.”
The editorial “Molecular genetics and new medication strategies for opioid addiction” was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, August 2018.
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