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Canada’s opioid crisis: CBD’s potential to curb symptoms and dependence


For the past 20 years, the opioid crisis in Canada continues to grow rapidly and without end. According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Addiction, a staggering number of 4,395 people in Canada have succumbed to an opioid-related death in just the past year alone.

Many opioid addictions begin with the prescription of an opioid medication such as codeine or methamphetamine intended to relieve short- or long-term pain. However, due to the highly addictive nature of these substances, this can lead to the slippery slope of dependence and growing tolerance to opioids – causing further intake of greater doses leading to health complications and higher chances of fatality.

Addiction and substance use disorders are serious but treatable medical conditions. Yet withdrawal itself may be life-threatening and existing opioid withdrawal therapies are limited and have several adverse side effects. Many scientists are therefore desperately searching for any hopeful alternatives or novel breakthrough treatments that could possibly subdue the ongoing opioid epidemic.

Clinical evidence investigated by Dr. Hurd et al. demonstrates that CBD, the nonintoxicating cannabinoid we all know and love, has the potential to reduce numerous withdrawal symptoms that heroin users suffer from – specifically cue-induced craving and anxiety. In this double-blind randomized human trial, participants were either given a placebo, 400 mg dose of CBD, or 800 mg dose of CBD throughout multiple sessions to observe their effect on how participants react to environmental triggers. The results showed that participants given CBD greatly helped reduce drug-craving and stress reactivity when exposed to the drug, in comparison to those given the placebo dosage. This improvement was even seen a week after the final dose administration of CBD, indicating that this cannabinoid could have longer-term effects and may work in concentrations lower than we once believed was needed. Along with these addiction-recovery properties, CBD is also considered to have a safe pharmacological profile due to its mild adverse reactions and low mortality risk.

Altogether, the characteristics of CBD were said by Hurd et al.to have significant potential in treating victims of heroin use disorders. Along with the convincing support from past research on CBD against addiction to other substances, this cannabidiol has the capability to be a powerful tool against the opioid crisis. With further research and trials, CBD may be able to curb the fearful rise of opioid-related deaths, immense hospitalization rates, and health care costs of those facing addiction and substance use disorder.

Granting the plethora of research that we have gained concerning CBD and addiction recovery, the scientific world always takes time to ensure therapies are tried and true before making any causal claims. We should always be cautious before following any new health initiative, by doing lots of research and consulting your primary health care provider if need be. For now, we can truly appreciate the endless discoveries that are coming out daily surrounding CBD and the healing world.

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