In the era of an unprecedented epidemic of opioid addiction and misuse including heroin, numerous research studies backed up by cannabidiol (CBD) scientists or experts have discovered that CBD oil may reduce craving and anxiety for those who are recovering from Opioid Use Disorder (OUD). Many are looking out for alternative treatments to curb the negative effects of opioids and are reluctant to try agonist treatment such as methadone or suboxone. Here, we address the potential treatment of FDA-approved CBD in OUD individuals.

What is the difference between ‘medical marijuana’ and FDA-approved CBD?

The rise of legal and regulatory issues governing cannabis and cannabis-derived products especially in the United States can be alarming[1]. Non-federally-regulated cannabis projects are usually known as ‘medical marijuana’ wherein the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (CSA) defined marijuana as

‘The term “marihuana” means all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin. Such term does not include the mature stalks of such plant, fiber produced from such stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of such plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such mature stalks (except the resin extracted there from), fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized seed of such plant which is incapable of germination. 21 USC 802(16) (emphasis added).’

In comparison, FDA-approved CBDs are approved at certain doses proven by clinical studies for medical purposes after a thorough investigation and approval process, which typically takes years to prove.

Is there a potential of CBD as a treatment option for opioid abuse? What are our options?

  • The EPIDIOLEX Study by Hurd et al (2019)

This study was conducted as a randomized clinical trial with 42 participants, which all had a history of heroin addiction for over 10 years (average). They received one of two different CBD medication doses of EPIDIOLEX (400mg or 800mg) or a placebo medication once daily for 3 days. EPIDIOLEX is a highly purified plant-derived CBD product for children (>2 years old) who have had episodes of different seizures types[2]. According to the author’s examination[3], the effect of EPIDIOLEX in reducing craving and anxiety lasted at least a week with a higher dose. However, further investigation is required in a larger scale study to confirm the potential treatment of CBD in OUD individuals.

  • The SALTIVEX Study

The bottom line for individuals and families seeking recovery from OUD.

The need to find an alternative treatment to prevent relapse in OUD is pressing as we speak. Many urge the need to adopt newer and unconventional approaches to help solve the opioid crisis and relieve people who are currently suffering from this disorder.  The need to spark a strong interest among pharmaceutical companies to bring drugs to the market depends on the power of research, thus, positive and confirmed clinical trial results are vital. While more research is needed to flesh out whether FDA-approved CBD medications can be beneficial among OUD individuals, it is important to note, however, that some individuals are using CBD in its unregulated forms causing an issue to support its indication.  Consequently, for individuals seeking to use accurate CBD dosage in general for OUD purposes, you should seek professional advice from your healthcare professionals before deciding on your own without proper guidance on dosage.


  1. Mead A. (2019). Legal and Regulatory Issues Governing Cannabis and Cannabis-Derived Products in the United States. Frontiers in plant science, 10, 697.
  3. Hurd, Y. L., Spriggs, S., Alishayev, J., Winkel, G., Gurgov, K., Kudrich, C., . . . Salsitz, E. (2019). Cannabidiol for the reduction of cue-induced craving and anxiety in drug-abstinent individuals with heroin use disorder: A double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial. American Journal of Psychiatry, (ePub ahead of print). doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2019.18101191