By / July 12, 2021

Fighting Fire with Fire: Treating Cannabis Addiction with… Cannabis

Cannabis addiction is a small but growing problem in Germany. According to the Epidemiological Addiction Survey, around 3.7 million Germans consumed cannabis products like hashish in 2018, which corresponds to 7.1 percent of the population. Gone are the days when smoking cannabis was considered harmless. Because the drug has become more and more potent through breeding in recent years.

THC addiction is rare, but it is now more common. It is estimated that around 0.4 percent of Germans were affected in 2015. That is only half as many as with alcohol, but those who cannot get rid of cannabis for years can suffer severe psychological damage. Worldwide, around 22 million people are currently considered to be dependent on cannabis, similar to the number of opiates.

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CBD Products Are Becoming Popular

Doctors are therefore looking for methods that make THC weaning to beat cannabis addiction easier. A new approach by British researchers is: cannabis could help against cannabis addiction. More precisely, cannabidiol (CBD) could make it easier to stop using THC. A first clinical study shows positive results.

Cannabidiol is currently becoming more and more popular: It has a calming effect but has no intoxicating effect like THC and there is no fear of it leading to cannabis addiction. It is therefore legal in many countries, including Germany, more and more CBD products such as capsules, teas, and oils have been sold in recent years. Doctors test whether it is suitable for pain therapy. Other researchers even believe it could be used against the corona disease Covid-19. The new study by researchers led by Tom Freeman, published in the journal The Lancet Psychiatry, now proposes CBD as a therapeutic agent for cannabis addicts.

Fighting Cannabis Addiciton with CBD

In a clinical study on 82 subjects, the researchers tested whether CBD is safe and helps reduce cannabis addiction. All participants were diagnosed as being addicted to cannabis because they exhibited at least four of the eleven symptoms of addiction. All had expressed the wish to end the consumption acutely. The group was then divided. Half received two capsules with doses of CBD between 200 and 800 milligrams per day, the other two placebo tablets. All participants received a total of six counseling sessions designed to help them quit THC consumption.

The researchers used urine tests to monitor how much THC the participants continued to consume. In addition, the subjects were asked how many days per week they remained abstinent. After the 200 mg dose had no effect, the participants attempting to beat cannabis addiction were finally divided into the groups of placebo, 400 and 800 milligrams.

Freely Available CBD Products Are Often Dosed Too Low

In both CBD groups, participants managed to avoid cannabis more often. Interestingly, the increase in abstinence days was higher in the 400-milligram group (0.5 days per week and participant) than in the 800-milligram group (0.3 days per week and participant). There was no progress made against cannabis addiction in the placebo group.

Our results suggest that CBD doses of 400 to 800 milligrams daily have the potential to reduce cannabis addiction in clinical settings. However, higher doses should not bring any additional benefit. Larger studies are still needed to determine exactly how great the benefits of daily CBD are in reducing THC consumption.

Valerie Curran, University College London

The researchers advise against users looking to fight cannabis addiction from making do with CBD products from general trade. In contrast to the tested variants, the freely available CBD products are dosed significantly lower and there is a lack of quality control, they warn.

(Featured image by RODNAE Productions via Pexels)

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