Beamon began using a CBD tincture, placing several drops under her tongue or mixed into drinks, several times a day. The results were “revolutionary,” she says. “I sleep through the night, finally, without waking up in pain.” What’s more, she is no longer reliant on opioids. “That’s a complete relief to me.”
And even without a robust body of scientific literature, some doctors and patients are trying CBD for pain management. Julia Arnsten, M.D., chief of general internal medicine at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, has been using medical marijuana in her practice for about five years. She has found that both CBD and THC help some patients safely manage chronic pain. For patients who can’t tolerate the psychoactive effects of THC, Arnsten sometimes suggests they use mainly CBD or take CBD during the day and THC at night.
The popular cannabis compound may help some people wean off addictive pain meds
Some researchers also warn that though CBD and cannabis pose fewer risks than opioids, that doesn’t mean they are harmless. For example, CBD can interact with some prescription drugs. And THC can cause several side effects, including anxiety and panic attacks; it can also lead to dependence in long-term users.
“CBD has promising effects on pain, which could make it an effective substitute for opioids,” says Shereef Elnahal, M.D., the commissioner of New Jersey’s Department of Health and a strong supporter of medical marijuana. He also points to studies in the Journal of the American Medical Association showing that in states where people could legally use marijuana, the number of filled opioid prescriptions dropped significantly, and there were lower rates of opioid overdose and death, compared with states without legal cannabis. Though several factors could contribute to those results, researchers find the link between cannabis laws and declining opioid use intriguing.
Desperate for an alternative, Beamon turned to her pharmacist, who recommended cannabidiol—commonly known as CBD. That’s a compound that can be extracted from the cannabis plant, which includes marijuana and hemp. Growing research suggests that CBD may help ease pain, seizures, and anxiety. Yet unlike cannabis’s other well-known compound, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD does not get people high.
Background: Cannabis use is common among opioid-dependent individuals, but little is known about cannabis withdrawal in this population.
Methods: Thirty inpatients (57% men) completed the Marijuana Quit Questionnaire (MJQQ) after completing acute heroin detoxification treatment in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The MJQQ collected data on motivations for quitting, withdrawal symptoms, and coping strategies used to help maintain abstinence during their most “serious” (self-defined) quit attempt made without formal treatment outside a controlled environment.
Results: At the start of their quit attempt, 70% of participants smoked cannabis at least weekly (40% daily), averaging [SD] 2.73 [1.95] joints daily; 60% were heroin dependent. Subjects with heroin dependence were significantly older at the start of their quit attempt (22.9 [3.6] vs. 19.1 [2.9] years), were significantly less likely to report withdrawal irritability/anger/aggression (22% vs. 58%), restlessness (0% vs. 25%), or physical symptoms (6% vs. 33%), or to meet diagnostic criteria for DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition) cannabis withdrawal syndrome (6% vs. 33%), and had shorter duration of abstinence (29.6 [28.7] vs 73.7 [44.1] months) than those without heroin dependence.
Conclusion: Cannabis users with opioid dependence are less likely to experience cannabis withdrawal, suggesting that opiate use may prevent or mask the experience of cannabis withdrawal. RESULTS should be considered preliminary due to small convenience sample and retrospective data.
These results have many healthcare professionals questioning: Can CBD be used to curb the opioid epidemic? Experts believe that due to the limited non-opioid medication options, the need for new alternatives is more important than ever.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical component found in marijuana. Unlike other marijuana compounds such as THC, CBD does not get people high. Instead, CBD is known for its inhibitory response, which results in analgesic (pain relief) and anti-anxiety effects.
CBD Oil: What Is It And How Can It Treat Opioid Addiction?
A recent double-blind study found that acute CBD administration, in contrast to placebo, significantly reduced both cravings for heroin and anxiety induced but the presentation of drug cues (i.e., injection needles).
Because opioid addiction is challenging to study, researchers often have to look at the specific symptoms, which tend to occur in three phases: intoxication, dependence, and relapse.
CBD oil is beginning to receive a lot more attention, as more states legalize marijuana products. Clinical trials have indicated that CBD may be a potential treatment for many conditions, including epilepsy and anxiety. Now, a recent study reports it might also help curb opioid cravings.