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Marijuana compound might help keep drug addicts, alcoholics from relapsing, study finds

A week-long treatment of CBD oil, a marijuana compound, helped keep rats addicted to cocaine and alcohol from consuming their substance of choice for up to five months, according to a study published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology
A week-long treatment of CBD oil, a marijuana compound, helped keep rats addicted to cocaine and alcohol from consuming their substance of choice for up to five months, according to a study published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology AP

One week of treatment with a non-psychoactive marijuana compound could help drug addicts and alcoholics from relapsing for months, a new study found.

Researchers gave cannabidiol (CBD oil) to rats that consumed either alcohol or cocaine every day. The animals received a daily treatment of the CBD in gel form for a single week, according to the study published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

The goal was to see whether the treatment could reduce the rats’ intake of their substance of choice, the study said, and specifically whether it would help them fight off the urge to get their fix while under stressful conditions.

It turns out that the CBD helped the critters consume less alcohol or cocaine, even when they were put into anxiety-inducing situations that might push them to take more. And the rats that had the gel applied to their skin were also less anxious and less impulsive, the study says.

Those results weren’t temporary — scientists say a one-week treatment provided beneficial results for up to five months, even though the CBD was completely cleared from the rats’ plasma and brains within three days.

Friedbert Weiss, leader of an investigative team at the Scripps Research Institute, said in a press release that his study gives “proof of principle supporting potential of CBD in relapse prevention,” as the substance helped the rats resist certain would-be triggers and provided positive results for months.

“Drug addicts enter relapse vulnerability states for multiple reasons,” he said. “Therefore, effects such as these observed with CBD that concurrently ameliorate several of these are likely to be more effective in preventing relapse than treatments targeting only a single state.”

CBD — which lacks THC, the component in marijuana responsible for getting users “high” — is often used as a medical treatment for certain illnesses.

Jaelah Jerger, a toddler from Indiana, suffered up to 100 seizures in one day, her parents said. But those incidents were drastically reduced after they gave Jaelah a hemp extract that contained CBD.

A study of 120 children in The New England Journal of Medicine found that CBD can drastically reduce the number of seizures that children with Dravet syndrome have.

Another study on alcoholic rats, this one published in the journal Nature, found that a single injection of human stem cells could curb their dependance on alcohol.

Researchers allowed the rats to choose between a sweetened alcoholic drink and water for up to 17 weeks — and then kept them from drinking any alcohol for two weeks, the study says. Scientists injected some rats with human mesenchymal stem cells that came from fat in liposuctions, and then gave them 60 minutes to drink as much water or alcohol as they wanted after their two-week purge.

Those rats that received the injection drank 80 percent to 90 percent less alcohol than expected, the study found, and changes to their alcohol consumption were noticed up to five weeks after the single treatment.

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