Study: CBD Reduces Relapse In Addicted Rats Up To Five Months After Treatment

Oct 16, 2020
(This article originally appeared in CBD Journal and is republished here with permission)

A newly released study suggests that CBD may help recovering alcoholics and drug addicts from relapsing. Researchers credit CBD's ability to reduce impulsive behavior.

A newly released study suggests that CBD could be an important weapon in the fight to help recovering alcoholics and drug addicts from relapsing. Published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, this groundbreaking study, titled, “Unique treatment potential of cannabidiol for the prevention of relapse to drug use: preclinical proof of principle,” was performed by researchers at The Scripps Research Institute.

Doctor Friedbert Weiss, leader of the study's investigative team, credits CBD's anxiety and stress-relief properties, as well as its ability to reduce impulsive behavior for its efficacy in preventing relapse.

"Drug addicts enter relapse vulnerability states for multiple reasons," said Weiss. "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."

According to the data, rats recovering from an addiction were less likely to relapse when treated with CBD. The study’s authors also claimed that after three days of treatment with CBD, the animals were less likely to relapse a full five months later.

Rats in the study received a daily dose of CBD for one week. Research found that the CBD regimen provided beneficial results for up to five months after treatment.


Cannabidiol (CBD), the major non-psychoactive constituent of Cannabis sativa, has received attention for therapeutic potential in treating neurologic and psychiatric disorders. Recently, CBD has also been explored for potential in treating drug addiction. Substance use disorders are chronically relapsing conditions and relapse risk persists for multiple reasons including craving induced by drug contexts, susceptibility to stress, elevated anxiety, and impaired impulse control. Here, we evaluated the “anti-relapse” potential of a transdermal CBD preparation in animal models of drug seeking, anxiety and impulsivity. Rats with alcohol or cocaine self-administration histories received transdermal CBD at 24 h intervals for 7 days and were tested for context and stress-induced reinstatement, as well as experimental anxiety on the elevated plus maze. Effects on impulsive behavior were established using a delay-discounting task following recovery from a 7-day dependence-inducing alcohol intoxication regimen. CBD attenuated context-induced and stress-induced drug seeking without tolerance, sedative effects, or interference with normal motivated behavior. Following treatment termination, reinstatement remained attenuated up to ≈5 months although plasma and brain CBD levels remained detectable only for 3 days. CBD also reduced experimental anxiety and prevented the development of high impulsivity in rats with an alcohol dependence history. The results provide proof of principle supporting potential of CBD in relapse prevention along two dimensions CBD: beneficial actions across several vulnerability states, and long-lasting effects with only brief treatment. The findings also inform the ongoing medical marijuana debate concerning medical benefits of non-psychoactive cannabinoids and their promise for development and use as therapeutics.

The study report can be found here.

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