Cannabidiol and Addiction

Studies and peer-reviewed research into the effects of CBD and Addiction

CBD for the treatment of cannabis withdrawal syndromeFrom the abstract:
Cannabis withdrawal in heavy users is commonly followed by increased anxiety, insomnia, loss of appetite, migraine, irritability, restlessness and other physical and psychological signs. Tolerance to cannabis and cannabis withdrawal symptoms are believed to be the result of the desensitization of CB1 receptors by THC.
CBD as an Intervention for Addictive BehaviorsFrom the abstract:
A limited number of preclinical studies suggest that CBD may have therapeutic properties on opioid, cocaine, and psychostimulant addiction, and some preliminary data suggest that it may be beneficial in cannabis and tobacco addiction in humans. Further studies are clearly necessary to fully evaluate the potential of CBD as an intervention for addictive disorders.
CBD reduces cigarette consumption in tobacco smokersFrom the abstract:
The role of the endocannabinoid system in nicotine addiction is being increasingly acknowledged. We conducted a pilot, randomised double blind placebo controlled study set out to assess the impact of the ad-hoc use of cannabidiol (CBD) in smokers who wished to stop smoking. 24 smokers were randomised to receive an inhaler of CBD (n=12) or placebo (n=12) for one week, they were instructed to use the inhaler when they felt the urge to smoke. Over the treatment week, placebo treated smokers showed no differences in number of cigarettes smoked. In contrast, those treated with CBD significantly reduced the number of cigarettes smoked by ~40% during treatment. Results also indicated some maintenance of this effect at follow-up. These preliminary data, combined with the strong preclinical rationale for use of this compound, suggest CBD to be a potential treatment for nicotine addiction that warrants further exploration.
CBD regulation of emotion and emotional memory processing: relevance for treating anxiety-related and substance abuse disordersFrom the abstract:
Learning to associate cues or contexts with potential threats or rewards is adaptive and enhances survival. Both aversive and appetitive memories are therefore powerful drivers of behaviour, but the inappropriate expression of conditioned responding to fear- and drug-related stimuli can develop into anxiety-related and substance abuse disorders respectively. These disorders are associated with abnormally persistent emotional memories and inadequate treatment, often leading to symptom relapse. Studies show that cannabidiol, the main non-psychotomimetic phytocannabinoid found in Cannabis sativa, reduces anxiety via 5-HT</span><sub>1A</sub><span> and (indirect) cannabinoid receptor activation in paradigms assessing innate responses to threat. There is also accumulating evidence from animal studies investigating the effects of cannabidiol on fear memory processing indicating that it reduces learned fear in paradigms that are translationally relevant to phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder. Cannabidiol does so by reducing fear expression acutely and by disrupting fear memory reconsolidation and enhancing fear extinction, both of which can result in a lasting reduction of learned fear. Recent studies have also begun to elucidate the effects of cannabidiol on drug memory expression using paradigms with translational relevance to addiction. The findings suggest that cannabidiol reduces the expression of drug memories acutely and by disrupting their reconsolidation. Here, we review the literature demonstrating the anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol before focusing on studies investigating its effects on various fear and drug memory processes. Understanding how cannabidiol regulates emotion and emotional memory processing may eventually lead to its use as a treatment for anxiety-related and substance abuse disorders. Linked Articles This article is part of a themed section on Pharmacology of Cognition: a Panacea for Neuropsychiatric Disease? To view the other articles in this section visit
CBD inhibits the reward-facilitating effect of morphineFrom the abstract:
Cannabidiol is a non-psychotomimetic constituent of Cannabis sativa, which induces central effects in rodents. It has been shown that cannabidiol attenuates cue-induced reinstatement of heroin seeking. However, to the best of our knowledge, its effects on brain stimulation reward and the reward-facilitating effects of drugs of abuse have not yet been examined. Therefore, we investigated the effects of cannabidiol on brain reward function and on the reward-facilitating effect of morphine and cocaine using the intracranial self-stimulation (ICSS) paradigm. Rats were prepared with a stimulating electrode into the medial forebrain bundle (MFB), and a guide cannula into the dorsal raphe (microinjection experiments), and were trained to respond for electrical brain stimulation. A low dose of cannabidiol did not affect the reinforcing efficacy of brain stimulation, whereas higher doses significantly elevated the threshold frequency required for MFB ICSS. Both cocaine and morphine lowered ICSS thresholds. Cannabidiol inhibited the reward-facilitating effect of morphine, but not cocaine. This effect was reversed by pre-treatment with an intra-dorsal raphe injection of the selective 5-HT1A receptor antagonist WAY-100635. The present findings indicate that cannabidiol does not exhibit reinforcing properties in the ICSS paradigm at any of the doses tested, while it decreases the reward-facilitating effects of morphine. These effects were mediated by activation of 5-HT1A receptors in the dorsal raphe. Our results suggest that cannabidiol interferes with brain reward mechanisms responsible for the expression of the acute reinforcing properties of opioids, thus indicating that cannabidiol may be clinically useful in attenuating the rewarding effects of opioids.
Cannabidiol, a nonpsychotropic component of cannabis, inhibits cue-induced heroin seeking and normalizes discrete mesolimbic neuronal disturbancesFrom the abstract:
There remains debate regarding the impact of cannabis on neuropsychiatric disorders. Here, we examined the effects of cannabidiol (CBD), a nonpsychoactive constituent of cannabis, on heroin self-administration and drug-seeking behavior using an experimental rat model. CBD (5-20 mg/kg) did not alter stable intake of heroin self-administration, extinction behavior, or drug seeking induced by a heroin prime injection. Instead, it specifically attenuated heroin-seeking behavior reinstated by exposure to a conditioned stimulus cue. CBD had a protracted effect with significance evident after 24 h and even 2 weeks after administration. The behavioral effects were paralleled by neurobiological alterations in the glutamatergic and endocannabinoid systems. Discrete disturbances of AMPA GluR1 and cannabinoid type-1 receptor expression observed in the nucleus accumbens associated with stimulus cue-induced heroin seeking were normalized by CBD treatment. The findings highlight the unique contributions of distinct cannabis constituents to addiction vulnerability and suggest that CBD may be a potential treatment for heroin craving and relapse.
Differential effect of cannabinol and cannabidiol on THC-induced responses during abstinence in morphine-dependent ratsFrom the abstract:
The same dose of cannabinol (CBN) or cannabidiol (CBD) further increased the attenuation of precipitated abstinence signs observed in morphine-dependent rats that also received an acute dose of delta 9-THC. By contrast, rotational behavior (turning), which is observed concomitantly in THC-treated rats during morphine abstinence, was not increased by CBN, but was potentiated by CBD. These data illustrate differences between psychoinactive cannabinoids in their interaction with delta 9-THC that might be relevant to possible clinical use of Cannabis in narcotic detoxification.
Dysregulation of cannabinoid CB1 receptor and associated signaling networks in brains of cocaine addicts and cocaine-treated rodentsFrom the abstract:
The endocannabinoid system is implicated in the neurobiology of cocaine addiction. This study evaluated the status of cannabinoid (CB) CB1 and CB2 receptors, the endocytic cycle of CB1 receptors, G protein-coupled receptor regulatory kinases (GRK), and associated signaling (mammalian target of rapamicin (mTOR) and 70kDa ribosomal protein S6 kinase (p70S6K)) in brain cortices of drug abusers and cocaine- and cannabinoid-treated rodents. The main results indicate that in cocaine adddicts, but not in mixed cocaine/opiate or opiate abusers, CB1 receptor protein in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) was reduced (-44%, total homogenate) with a concomitant receptor redistribution and/or internalization (decreases in membranes and increases in cytosol). In cocaine addicts, the reductions of CB1 receptors and GRK2/3/5 (-26% to -30%) indicated receptor desensitization. CB2 receptor protein was not significantly altered in the PFC of cocacine addicts. Chronic cocaine in mice and rats also reduced CB1 receptor protein (-41% and -80%) in the cerebral cortex inducing receptor redistribution and/or internalization. The CB1 receptor agonist WIN55212-2 caused receptor downregulation (decreases in membranes and cytosol) and the antagonists rimonabant and AM281 induced opposite effects (receptor upregulation in membranes and cytosol). Rimonabant and AM281 also behaved as inverse agonists on the activation of mTOR and its target p70S6K. Chronic cocaine in mice was associated with tolerance to the acute activation of mTOR and p70S6K. In long-term cocaine addicts, mTOR and p70S6K activations were not altered when compared with controls, indicating that CB1 receptor signaling was dampened. The dysregulation of CB1 receptor, GRK2/3/5, and mTOR/p70S6K signaling by cocaine may contribute to alterations of neuroplasticity and/or neurotoxicity in brains of cocaine addicts.
Cannabidiol Counteracts Amphetamine-Induced Neuronal and Behavioral SensitizationFrom the abstract:
Schizophrenia-related psychosis is associated with disturbances in mesolimbic dopamine (DA) transmission, characterized by hyperdopaminergic activity in the mesolimbic pathway. Currently, the only clinically effective treatment for schizophrenia involves the use of antipsychotic medications that block DA receptor transmission. However, these medications produce serious side effects leading to poor compliance and treatment outcomes. Emerging evidence points to the involvement of a specific phytochemical component of marijuana called cannabidiol (CBD), which possesses promising therapeutic properties for the treatment of schizophrenia-related psychoses. However, the neuronal and molecular mechanisms through which CBD may exert these effects are entirely unknown. We used amphetamine (AMPH)-induced sensitization and sensorimotor gating in rats, two preclinical procedures relevant to schizophrenia-related psychopathology, combined with in vivo single-unit neuronal electrophysiology recordings in the ventral tegmental area, and molecular analyses to characterize the actions of CBD directly in the nucleus accumbens shell (NASh), a brain region that is the current target of most effective antipsychotics. We demonstrate that Intra-NASh CBD attenuates AMPH-induced sensitization, both in terms of DAergic neuronal activity measured in the ventral tegmental area and psychotomimetic behavioral analyses. We further report that CBD controls downstream phosphorylation of the mTOR/p70S6 kinase signaling pathways directly within the NASh. Our findings demonstrate a novel mechanism for the putative antipsychotic-like properties of CBD in the mesolimbic circuitry. We identify the molecular signaling pathways through which CBD may functionally reduce schizophrenia-like neuropsychopathology.
Comparison of CBD, antioxidants, and diuretics in reversing binge ethanol-induced neurotoxicityFrom the abstract:
Binge alcohol consumption in the rat induces substantial neurodegeneration in the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex. Oxidative stress and cytotoxic edema have both been shown to be involved in such neurotoxicity, whereas N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor activity has been implicated in alcohol withdrawal and excitoxic injury. Because the nonpsychoactive cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) was previously shown in vitro to prevent glutamate toxicity through its ability to reduce oxidative stress, we evaluated CBD as a neuroprotectant in a rat binge ethanol model. When administered concurrently with binge ethanol exposure, CBD protected against hippocampal and entorhinal cortical neurodegeneration in a dose-dependent manner. Similarly, the common antioxidants butylated hydroxytoluene and alpha-tocopherol also afforded significant protection. In contrast, the NMDA receptor antagonists dizocilpine (MK-801) and memantine did not prevent cell death. Of the diuretics tested, furosemide was protective, whereas the other two anion exchanger inhibitors, L-644,711 [(R)-(+)-(5,6-dichloro2,3,9,9a-tetrahydro 3-oxo-9a-propyl-1H-fluoren-7-yl)oxy acetic acid] and bumetanide, were ineffective. In vitro comparison of these diuretics indicated that furosemide is also a potent antioxidant, whereas the nonprotective diuretics are not. The lack of efficacy of L-644,711 and bumetanide suggests that the antioxidant rather than the diuretic properties of furosemide contribute most critically to its efficacy in reversing ethanol-induced neurotoxicity in vitro, in our model. This study provides the first demonstration of CBD as an in vivo neuroprotectant and shows the efficacy of lipophilic antioxidants in preventing binge ethanol-induced brain injury.
Early Phase in the Development of CBD as a Treatment for Addiction: Opioid Relapse Takes Initial Center StageFrom the abstract:
Multiple cannabinoids derived from the marijuana plant have potential therapeutic benefits but most have not been well investigated, despite the widespread legalization of medical marijuana in the USA and other countries. Therapeutic indications will depend on determinations as to which of the multiple cannabinoids, and other biologically active chemicals that are present in the marijuana plant, can be developed to treat specific symptoms and/or diseases. Such insights are particularly critical for addiction disorders, where different phytocannabinoids appear to induce opposing actions that can confound the development of treatment interventions. Whereas Δ(9)-tetracannabinol has been well documented to be rewarding and to enhance sensitivity to other drugs, cannabidiol (CBD), in contrast, appears to have low reinforcing properties with limited abuse potential and to inhibit drug-seeking behavior. Other considerations such as CBD's anxiolytic properties and minimal adverse side effects also support its potential viability as a treatment option for a variety of symptoms associated with drug addiction. However, significant research is still needed as CBD investigations published to date primarily relate to its effects on opioid drugs, and CBD's efficacy at different phases of the abuse cycle for different classes of addictive substances remain largely understudied. Our paper provides an overview of preclinical animal and human clinical investigations, and presents preliminary clinical data that collectively sets a strong foundation in support of the further exploration of CBD as a therapeutic intervention against opioid relapse. As the legal landscape for medical marijuana unfolds, it is important to distinguish it from “medical CBD” and other specific cannabinoids, that can more appropriately be used to maximize the medicinal potential of the marijuana plant.

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