For several years, cannabidiol (CBD) has been envisaged as a promising solution for tackling cocaine addiction. Now, a scientific team in Canada refutes its effectiveness in research suggesting that the therapeutic virtues of CBD are largely non-existent when it comes to treating drug addiction.
Over 18 million people worldwide use cocaine, according to the 2019 edition of the World Drug Report, published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (ONUDC). Faced with this alarming figure, scientists have for years been investigating potential therapies to help treat addiction -- which affects a portion of drug users -- and the associated problems. Treatment with cannabidiol recently emerged as a promising potential solution, highlighted in several scientific studies.
A team of researchers at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Center studied the treatment in a clinical trial involving 78 cocaine addicts with an average age of 46, most of them with severe cocaine use disorder.
No more effective than a placebo
Participants were randomly divided into two groups. One group was given 800 mg of CBD a day while the other group received a placebo. After 10 days in hospital to detox, the participants were sent home and received weekly check-ups for the next three months.
Published in the journal, Addiction, the results of the study seem categorical: taking CBD was not found to be an effective way of reducing cocaine addiction. In fact, the researchers state that CBD does not appear to make addicts want cocaine less, or reduce their risk of relapse into addiction.
"In our study, the use of CBD was not more effective than a placebo in treating cocaine use disorder," explains Violaine Mongeau-Pérusse, first author of the study. "Although it is safe and produces only mild side effects, CBD reduces neither the craving to use cocaine nor the risk of a user's relapse after detoxification."
While the scientists call for more research in the field to determine the conditions under which CBD may be helpful or not, they maintain that it probably isn't a good choice for addicts trying to kick a cocaine habit.