Marijuana May Help Addicts With Alcohol and Cocaine Relapses, Study Says

Addiction is an ongoing fight, and the slightest stress or anxiety-inducing event can make drugs and alcohol harder to resist. New research offers a solution in an unexpected form: cannabidiol, one of the chemical compounds found in marijuana.

Related: Opioid Crisis: Is Arkansas Paving The Way for Big Pharma, Not Taxpayers, to Pay for Addiction?

Colombian police testing whether a white substance is cocaine. A new study says that CBD may prevent relapses for people battling cocaine addiction. RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP/Getty Image

A study conducted by Scripps Research Institute in California found that non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) supplements helped former cocaine and alcohol-addicted rats from relapsing. CBD, which is found in Cannabis sativa, does not elicit psychoactive effects, according to Springer.

In this new research, scientists looked at how CBD could be used to treat anxiety-caused relapses in lab rats. Findings were published this month in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

In this study, the team used rats that had voluntarily consumed alcohol or cocaine each day, mimicking addictive behavior. They applied a CBD gel topically once daily for a week, and administered tests to study how they reacted during anxiety-inducing events, reported Springer. Researchers looked at impulsive behavior as it is linked to drug addiction.

They found that the CBD gel reduced anxiety and impulsive behavior, in addition to alcohol and cocaine relapses. Further, researchers were surprised to find that animals that were treated with CBD were at less risk of relapsing five months after the experiment was complete.

The results are preliminary and research would need to be conducted in humans before CBD gel could become a mainstream treatment. However, other studies indicate that CBD could be used to treat addiction. A review of 14 studies published in the journal Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment in 2015 concluded that preliminary data suggests CBD can be used to treat opioid dependence and addictions to psychostimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamines.

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Additional research targeting CBD and opioid addiction could be one possible solution to the current epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, data from 2016 showed that nearly 50 people died daily from overdosing on prescribed opioids