Specifically, areas of the brain critical in controlling the perception of daily and pleasurable activities are susceptible to the influence of addictive drugs. Due to the rewiring of the brain under addiction, the individual often perceives the world in context to their drug of choice. The brain learns to associate drug paraphernalia or the physical location of drug partaking in the context of receiving a drug. These cues become integral reminders and reinforcers of drug use.
For dependent individuals, ongoing use of a drug is not perceived as a conscious choice, but rather an evil necessity. Medication-assisted treatment with drugs like methadone or buprenorphine, allows for an individual to undergo recovery from an opioid use disorder. The use of medication assisted treatment significantly decreases the likelihood of an individual to relapse and fatally overdose due to withdrawal or dependence symptoms.
Addiction is a brain disease
Depending on the drug, the symptoms of drug withdrawal can vary and range from mild to severe intensity. In the case of opioid withdrawal, symptoms often include anxiety, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps and rapid heartbeat. An individual going through opioid withdrawal experiencing extreme conditions of anxiety is likely to take opioids to alleviate that anxiety. This sort of behavior can be repetitive, leading to a what is called a feed-forward loop of dependence on an abused drug.
CBD was tested in several clinical trials and was shown to work and to be safe in treating a rare form of epilepsy. A pharmaceutical grade CBD, Epidiolex, gained FDA approval in June 2018 for this specific usage.
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Cannabinoids and opioids both produce analgesia through a G-protein-coupled mechanism that blocks the release of pain-propagating neurotransmitters in the brain and spinal cord. However, high doses of these drugs, which may be required to treat chronic, severe pain, are accompanied by undesirable side effects. Thus, a search for a better analgesic strategy led to the discovery that delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the major psychoactive constituent of marijuana, enhances the potency of opioids such as morphine in animal models. In addition, studies have determined that the analgesic effect of THC is, at least in part, mediated through delta and kappa opioid receptors, indicating an intimate connection between cannabinoid and opioid signaling pathways in the modulation of pain perception. A host of behavioral and molecular experiments have been performed to elucidate the role of opioid receptors in cannabinoid-induced analgesia, and some of these findings are presented below. The aim of such studies is to develop a novel analgesic regimen using low dose combinations of cannabinoids and opioids to effectively treat acute and chronic pain, especially pain that may be resistant to opioids alone.