Is CBD the answer to the opioid crisis?

Is CBD the answer to the opioid crisis?

While researching the potential of CBD as a treatment for attention deficit, we came across a number of studies regarding the potential of CBD as a treatment for addiction. Intrigued, we delved deeper and found that there is a great deal of evidence to the effect that CBD may be a novel treatment approach for many kinds of addiction, though, of course, the research is still in its infancy and needs to be corroborated by further study.

CBD: An intervention for addictive behaviors

A review of the available studies was published in 2015, which summarized research to date on CBD & addiction and which is titled Cannabidiol as an Intervention for Addictive Behaviors: A Systematic Review of the Evidence:

“Cannabidiol (CBD), the second most abundant component of cannabis, is thought to modulate various neuronal circuits involved in drug addiction… [P]reclinical studies suggest that CBD may have therapeutic properties on opioid, cocaine, and psychostimulant addiction, and some preliminary data suggest that it may be beneficial in cannabis and tobacco addiction in humans.”

The review has a source list of more than 45 different texts and goes into great detail regarding the potential of CBD as an addiction treatment. The researchers conclude the following:

“CBD is an exogenous cannabinoid that acts on several neurotransmission systems involved in addiction. Animal studies have shown the possible effects of CBD on opioid and psychostimulant addiction, while human studies presented some preliminary evidence of a beneficial impact of CBD on cannabis and tobacco dependence. CBD has several therapeutic properties on its own that could indirectly be useful in the treatment of addiction disorders, such as its protective effect on stress vulnerability and neurotoxicity.”

Going on to say that, of course:

“Overall, emerging data remain very limited and are far from being conclusive; well-designed, randomized, controlled trials are necessary at this point to determine whether these properties translate into significant improvements on clinical outcomes in human populations.”

We’re in agreement that further study is warranted, but already, we are seeing an impressive case building up for CBD as an addiction treatment.

What I find interesting about the above quote is the author’s mention that CBD’s other known qualities may have a beneficial impact on addiction above & beyond any potential direct effect. The authors cite CBD’s purported stress-reducing and neuroprotective benefits. This is definitely a point worth consideration as we move forward.

CBD as a therapeutic intervention against opioid relapse

Another review of the studies had another goal in mind: the authors of Early Phase in the Development of Cannabidiol as a Treatment for Addiction: Opioid Relapse Takes Initial Center Stage clearly wanted to look at CBD as a potential treatment for opiate addiction.

Opiate addiction is a theme that is coming to the fore right now, and has been gaining prominence in our national discourse at least since the publication of this review in 2015. This is part of the reason behind the rumors of big pharma getting in the CBD game. It goes without saying, but opiate addiction is a significant crisis in our country and throughout the world.

“Whereas Δ9-tetracannabinol has been well documented to be rewarding and to enhance sensitivity to other drugs, cannabidiol (CBD), in contrast, appears to have low reinforcing properties with limited abuse potential and to inhibit drug-seeking behavior. Other considerations such as CBD’s anxiolytic properties and minimal adverse side effects also support its potential viability as a treatment option for a variety of symptoms associated with drug addiction.”

The authors thereby make clear a critical separation between the effects of these two cannabinoids.

“Our paper provides an overview of preclinical animal and human clinical investigations, and presents preliminary clinical data that collectively sets a strong foundation in support of the further exploration of CBD as a therapeutic intervention against opioid relapse.”

Wording like we see in the quote above is quite common in scientific literature pertaining to CBD. The confusing legal framework around cannabinoids makes it hard for researchers to do their research in the first place, which constrains their ability to make strong claims on its own (due to lack of commanding volume of peer studies), and also makes many researchers fearful of fully expressing the implications of their data. The scientific community can be finicky, but when we hear phrasing like ‘collectively sets a strong foundation in support of the further exploration of CBD’, that’s actually a very strongly positive statement, however cautiously worded.

CBD & Cigarette addiction

While the literature reviews cited above reference an abundance of relevant studies, I thought I would finish with a brief abstract which has positive things to say about the potential treatment of nicotine addiction using cannabidiol. Cannabidiol reduces cigarette consumption in tobacco smokers: preliminary findings tells us that use of CBD reduced cigarette consumption by 40% in treatment:

“24 smokers were randomised to receive an inhaler of CBD (n=12) or placebo (n=12) for one week, they were instructed to use the inhaler when they felt the urge to smoke. Over the treatment week, placebo treated smokers showed no differences in number of cigarettes smoked. In contrast, those treated with CBD significantly reduced the number of cigarettes smoked by ~40% during treatment. Results also indicated some maintenance of this effect at follow-up. These preliminary data, combined with the strong preclinical rationale for use of this compound, suggest CBD to be a potential treatment for nicotine addiction that warrants further exploration.”

CBD for cigarette addiction? Yet another novel application of CBD that may not immediately come to mind.

CBD & Addiction | The Bottom Line

The more we learn about CBD, the more it seems like this cannabinoid may offer a general beneficial effect for health & well-being, regardless of what the intended target effect may be. In the case of addiction, I wholeheartedly agree that there is a dearth of research which needs to be rectified, but I also believe that the evidence put forth constitutes a compelling defense of CBD’s potential to treat this illness.

Our blog posts have recently gained quite a degree of traction, with a medley of positive and critical reactions to the research we’ve presented. It seems that a lot of people are reticent to believe in the next ‘miracle cure’, and I can understand that.

Since the dawn of society, people have labeled placebos or poorly researched substances as cure-alls and have made a dishonest living peddling their wares. The difference with CBD isn’t the marketing, or the hype, or the multitude of believers in and experiencers of its power to heal. That’s all been seen before, and many people have been left disappointed.

The difference is the clinical data, the scientifically attained information pertinent to specific observable effects of CBD on the human body & mind. This is why CBD is turning heads all over the world and gaining prominence in the home and medicine cabinet. Not because of the hype, not because it’s a fad, but because the peer-reviewed scientific research compellingly tells the tale of a substance with immense potential to cure or mitigate some of the true horrors we all may face in life.

We’ve seen CBD achieve results that, before witnessed, seemed unbelievable, but that’s anecdotal testimony. When alerting our readers to the potential therapeutic applications of CBD, we stick to the research and deliver only the facts. For testimonials and reviews, and more information on CBD & our products, please visit us at



Further reading