A non-psychoative, non-addictive ingredient of the Cannabis plant could be used to help reduce the risk of relapse in recovering drug and alcohol addicts, according to new research conducted in laboratory rats.

The discovery adds to the growing list of possible medical benefits of non-psychoactive cannabinoids.

Remaining drug-free is a huge challenge for recovering addicts. Drug-related settings, especially, can cause stress or high levels of anxiousness as addicts struggle to control their impulses.

Researchers applied a gel containing Cannabadiol (CBD) once per day for a week to the skin of laboratory rats. These animals displayed addictive-like behavior, with a history of voluntary daily alcohol or cocaine self-administration.

CBD is one of the primary non-psychoactive ingredients of Cannabis sativa, the plant used to make marijuana. Previous research has revealed that CBD shows potential in treating various neurological and psychiatric disorders.

The rats were then exposed to activities testing their reactions to stressful and anxiety-provoking situations. Animals that demonstrated impulsivity were more likely to relapse.

The CBD treatment reduced relapse likelihood as well as anxiety and impulsivity in the drug-addicted laboratory animals. All traces of CBD in the brain and plasma of the rats was gone within three days.

Even better, the CBD-treated rats still displayed a reduced relapse five months after treatment.

"There are many factors that go into preventing relapse; anxiety, impulse control, etc. I would like to find a medication that can treat all of these factors, in addition to counseling, it could help addicts stay clean," study author, Friedbert Weiss, leader of an investigative team at the Scripps Research Institute, said to ALN.

The study was published in Neuropsychopharmacology.