"Marijuana Could Ease Burden of Opioid Addiction"
In 2014, more people died from drug overdoses than at any other time in U.S. history, with 60% of fatalities involving opioid drugs. Now, a neurobiologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai has just released data from a small human pilot study that shows cannabinoids, extracts of cannabis legally sold as medical marijuana, could reduce cravings and ease withdrawal symptoms in heroin users. "If you look at both drugs and where their receptors are, opioids are much more dangerous, in part because of the potential for overdose—the opioid receptors are very abundant in the brainstem area that regulates our respiration, so they shut down the breathing center if opioid doses are high," explained senior study investigator Yasmin Hurd, PhD, professor and director of the Center for Addictive Disorders within the Mount Sinai Behavioral Health System. "Cannabinoids don't do that. They have a much wider window of therapeutic benefit without causing an overdose in adults." Learn more.