By Emily Ledger
Clinical trials assessing the potential of Cannabidiol (CBD) in treating a number of medical conditions have become increasingly common in recent years. One of the most interesting areas of study is the potential of CBD to prevent addiction and potentially help to treat cannabis use disorder.
One study, which was recently published in The Lancet Psychiatry, has revealed that CBD may help to increase abstinence from cannabis use. The phase 2a clinical study, carried out at the Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit, University College London, aimed to identify effective dosages for this purpose.
Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug in the world. Although many consumers may use cannabis without developing a reliance, it is estimated that around 1 in 10 users will become addicted to cannabis. On the other hand, ongoing research is assessing the possibility of using cannabis as a harm reduction strategy for other forms of substance abuse.
Tetrahydrocannabinol delta-9 (THC) is the most common psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant. In addition, it is also thought to be the main addictive component of the drug. Over the last few decades, the potency of the cannabis that is commonly used by many has seen a significant increase. This increase in THC concentration is often linked to increased levels of cannabis use disorder.
How Could CBD Treat Cannabis Use Disorder?
CBD is the second-most prevalent cannabinoid found in cannabis. Unlike THC, CBD does not cause users to get high. However, it has been found to have some interesting effects on some physiological and cognitive functions. In fact, CBD has been seen to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, prevent seizures, and aid with sleep. There is also an increasing amount of evidence that CBD may be used to reduce dependency on addictive substances.
The trial carried out at London’s Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit has added to this growing evidence base. Researchers carried out a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised, adaptive Bayesian trial in order to identify effective CBD dosage for the treatment of cannabis use disorder.
To measure the effectiveness of differing CBD doses, researchers measures THC levels in participants’ urine, as well as the number of days per week without cannabis use. It was found that both doses (400mg and 800mg CBD) were more effective at reducing cannabis use than placebo. In addition, both doses were also found to be safe and well-tolerated among the sample.
How Does it Work?
There is evidence that CBD is able to modulate various neuronal circuits involved in drug addiction. It is thought that, through these interactions, CBD may suppress drug-seeking behaviours by reducing the release of ‘reward’ compounds within the body. Compounds such as anandamide are released in the body when we are exposed to some drugs.
In addition to cannabis use disorder, CBD has also been identified as a possible treatment for other drug use disorders.