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Relapse is one of the ever-present pitfalls for addicts struggling to steer clear of their poison of choice.

A non-psychoactive and non-addictive cannabinoid helped a group of laboratory rats kick their alcohol and cocaine habits, according to a new study in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

Cannabidiol (CBD) had previously shown links to better success for rodents kicking opioids.

“The efficacy of cannabinoid CBD to reduce reinstatement in rats with both alcohol and cocaine – and, as previously reported, heroin – histories predicts therapeutic potential for addiction treatment across several classes of abused drugs,” said Friedbert Weiss, lead author, of the Scripps Research Institute in California.

The rats had developed problems with cocaine and alcohol, as they were allowed voluntary self-administration of the substances. They eventually developed addiction-like behavior.

Transdermal CBD gel was applied daily to the rats for a week.

The rats were subjected to stress, anxiety, and impulsivity tests before and after the cannabidiol. The effects were less anxiety and impulsivity in the drug-addicted rats.

The CBD was naturally metabolized with a few days, and the plasma and other assessments showed it was cleared completely. But five months later, the rats still showed “reduced relapse” factors of stress and other cues, the scientists said.

“The results provide proof of principle and support the potential of CBD in relapse prevention along two dimensions: beneficial actions across several vulnerability states, and long-lasting effects with only brief treatment,” said Weiss.

Previous studies had looked at the benefits of cannabidiol in treating serious drug dependence. A 2015 meta-analysis in the journal Substance Abuse showed therapeutic properties for opioid, cocaine and other psychostimulant addictions.

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