Addiction & Alcoholism
Researchers have modulated cannabinoid CB1 receptors in addiction treatment in order to affect cravings, the formation of habits, one’s sensitivity to triggers, withdrawal symptoms, and the pleasure one derives from drug use. Now scientists at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism have added a new factor to the list: feeling satiated. As the paper published in Cell Metabolism describes, suppressing CB1 activity outside of the central nervous system reduces mice’s desire to drink.
Opioids leave much to be desired in medical treatment. They are highly addictive, very lethal, and not all that effective for treating chronic pain. Cannabis, particularly THC, is promising for its opiate-sparing properties: preclinical work indicates that cannabis synergizes with the painkilling effects of opioids and reduces the development of tolerance (perhaps because of this synergy) but does not increase opioid-induced respiratory depression which leads to death. Moreover, states that legalize cannabis see a decrease in opioid prescriptions.
Many prohibitionist arguments are being flipped on their heads. CBD’s anti-anxiety effects have replaced much of the reefer madness mentality. Rather than causing lung cancer, marijuana appears to have anti-cancer activity, if anything. And in spite of the gateway theory, whereby casual cannabis use supposedly escalates to heroin, we find that cannabis helps to treat pain and reduce opiate use. An animal study out of the Scripps Research Institute reaffirms that THC generally reduces the addictiveness of opioids.