A new study released Tuesday finds that cannabidiol (CBD) could be an answer for medical professionals looking to treat the epidemic of opioid addiction ravaging the country.
In the report published in the American Journal of Psychiatry and first reported by CNN, researchers found that patients treated with CBD reported experiencing lower cravings for heroin or other opioids than did patients who were either given a placebo or no treatment at all.
The study's lead researcher told CNN that the results indicate that CBD could serve as an effective over-the-counter method of treatment for people experiencing opioid withdrawal symptoms, leading to lower levels of people returning to drug use.
"The intense craving is what drives the drug use," said Yasmin Hurd, director of the Addiction Institute of Mount Sinai, according to CNN. "If we can have the medications that can dampen that [craving], that can greatly reduce the chance of relapse and overdose risk."
The medicine used by the study's researchers, Epidiolex, is a CBD-based medication already approved by the FDA for treatment of seizure-based disorders. The results of Tuesday's study could mean the medicine will soon be used more.
Study participants reported mild side effects, including diarrhea, headaches, and tiredness, according to CNN.
"This is an extremely significant paper. We need to utilize every possible treatment in helping people with chronic pain to find other ways to manage their symptoms and in people with opiate addiction to find relief," Dr. Julie Holland, a psychiatrist and former New York University professor, told the network.
"It's not addictive. No one is diverting it. It doesn't get you high, but it can reduce craving and anxiety," Holland added, according to CNN. "This can really help save lives."