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Research supports the potential for cannabidiol in relapse prevention, neuroscientists say 

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A new study shows that the use of cannabidiol (CBD) could be the answer for alcohol and cocaine addictions.

The Scripps Research Institute found that recovering rats were less likely to relapse when given CBD. The study also found that after three days of CBD treatment, the animals were less likely to relapse five months later. Researchers credited CBD's anxiety and stress-relief properties, as well as the supplement's reduction of impulsive behavior.

In the study, published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, the rats were given a daily treatment of CBD for a week to see whether the the treatment could reduce their intake of other substances, especially under stressful conditions. Research found that the CBD regimen also led to similar results for up to five months, even though CBD left the rats' system within three days.

Friedbert Weiss, leader of the study's investigative team, says that the results support the potential of CBD for relapse prevention.

"Drug addicts enter relapse vulnerability states for multiple reasons," Weiss says in a press release. "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."

CBD has long been heralded as an alternative pain relief medication for those looking for less addictive options than conventional pain killers. And as America's opioid crisis only grows, patients and doctors are looking to move away from the highly addictive prescription opioids.

Recent studies have shown that CBD, through the neurotransmitter serotonin, can dissolve cravings and triggers formed through addictions and drug cycling. Preclinical research suggests that CBD can reduce drug-seeking behavior and diminish withdrawal symptoms for opioids similar to the study conducted on rats.

These results come as U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent an official memo to federal prosecutors urging them to seek the death penalty for large-scale drug traffickers. The memo highlights the opioid epidemic, but the federal law does not have any drug-specific limitations.

The rate of opioid prescriptions in the United States has quadrupled since 1999. More Americans died from drug overdoses in 2016 than the entirety of the Vietnam War. Of the 64,070 drug overdose deaths, 35,611 deaths were related to heroin or synthetic drugs like fentanyl. ♦

The original print version of this article was headlined "Oh, Rats!"

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