CBD and Cocaine

Does CBD interact with cocaine, and can CBD help with cocaine addiction?

Cocaine is a strongly-addictive stimulant drug concocted from the leaves of the coca plant native to South America. Although medical professionals can sometimes use it as local anesthesia for surgeries, recreational cocaine use is illegal.

Cocaine abuse is a global phenomenon, with the highest rates of consumption in the Americas.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), there were about 1.5 million cocaine users in the United States aged 12 or older (6 out of 10 of the population) in 2014.

A new study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) demonstrated that CBD is effective in reducing cocaine intake in animal models, providing new perspectives in using CBD as a therapeutic tool against cocaine addiction.

However, there are adverse effects when cannabinoids are used with cocaine.

While cocaine and marijuana have health risks when used alone, the risks are amplified when they are used together, possibly leading to a cocaine overdose.

While results from cannabis compounds may be promising, scientists would still need high-quality evidence from longitudinal research to validate the benefits of CBD oil in treating cocaine addictions safely.

Cocaine Side Effects 

The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) said that 2.2 million people in 2016 used cocaine at least once in the month before the survey, and close to half a million people smoked crack cocaine (crystal form of cocaine). 

Cocaine’s short-term effects include extreme happiness, mental alertness, irritability, sensitivity (to sound, sight, and touch), and unreasonable distrust of others.

The substance also has other health effects, such as:

  • nausea
  • dilated pupils
  • fast or irregular heartbeat
  • raised body temperature and blood pressure
  • constricted blood vessels
  • tremors and muscle twitches

The use of cocaine carries risks for anyone, but the risks intensify when abused by pregnant women.

According to the American Addiction Centers, pregnant women who abuse cocaine may be prone to malnutrition, anemia, and skin infections.

What Causes Cocaine Addiction?

Results from recent studies performed by the Scripps Research Institute showed that CBD activates the brain’s serotonin receptors. This interaction was known to be directly linked to reduce drug-seeking behavior by the user.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains that cocaine amplifies the levels of dopamine, a natural chemical messenger in the brain linked to the regulation of movement and reward.

Typically, dopamine recycles back to the cells that released it, blocking off the signals between nerve cells.

However, cocaine stops dopamine from being reused, causing substantial amounts to build up in the space between two nerve cells, preventing their regular communication.

The excess of dopamine in the brain’s reward circuit intensifies drug-taking behaviors because the reward circuit ultimately adapts to the massive amounts of dopamine caused by cocaine, becoming less sensitive to it.

As a result, people take more frequent and increased doses of cocaine in an attempt to feel the same high, as well as to achieve relief from withdrawal.

Withdrawal symptoms include fatigue, slowed thinking, increased appetite, depression, insomnia, and having unpleasant dreams.

CBD can regulate the body’s dopamine receptors through the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), controls homeostasis (stability or balance) through the nervous system. Thus, CBD is effective in alleviating withdrawal symptoms with minimal side effects.

Treatments for Cocaine Addiction

Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) revealed that, in 2011, cocaine was involved in over one in three visits to hospitals’ emergency departments for drug misuse or drug abuse.

Behavioral therapy may be used to help treat cocaine addiction.

Behavioral therapy includes:

  • cognitive-behavioral therapy, or psychotherapy with a mental health counselor
  • motivational incentives, or rewarding patients who remain substance-free, providing drug-free accommodations where people in recovery from substance use help each other
  • 12-step programs

Currently, there are no government-approved medicines available to treat cocaine addiction, according to the NIDA.

What is CBD?

Cannabinoids, like cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), are a group of naturally-occurring compounds in the cannabis plant. Cannabis plants include both marijuana and hemp plants.

CBD can be extracted from either hemp or marijuana.

Hemp plants are naturally high in CBD, and they have less than 0.3% THC, the primary psychoactive compound that induces a euphoric high.

Medical marijuana, or medical cannabis, is the marijuana plant used to treat health issues.

CBD is sold in the form of oils, salves, tinctures, gummies, gels, and supplements.

The following is a list of some CBD oil products for those looking to try CBD:

  1. Fresh Farms CBD Ultra Premium Hemp Oil Supplement, 60ml Tincture Drops. Fresh Farms was established upon concerns regarding the growing opioid problem. Sourced from U.S. certified organic hemp, their full-spectrum tincture drops are non-GMO and extracted using the CO2 method.
  1. Dixie Botanicals CBD Gel Capsules. The full-spectrum CBD capsules are made with high-quality hemp that is free of fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. Each product is triple lab-tested to ensure that it is free of contamination.
  1. Natures Script Hemp Extract Vaping E-liquid, 1000 mg. Pain, nausea, and anxiety are typical withdrawal symptoms of addiction, and vaping is one of the fastest ways to experience the calming and analgesic effects of CBD oil. Natures Script produces 1000 mg hemp extract E-liquid that is fast-acting and comes in watermelon, blueberry, or mango flavors.

CBD Benefits and Side Effects

CBD is used to help with numerous ailments and disorders, such as seizures, inflammation, nausea and vomiting, and anxiety.

Typical side effects of CBD include low blood pressure, dry mouth, drowsiness, and lightheadedness.

Note that cannabidiol is possibly unsafe to use when pregnant or breastfeeding

There have been no clinical studies on the risks of CBD use by pregnant women. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) discourages “the use of CBD, THC, and marijuana in any form during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.”

CBD and Cocaine Addiction

CBD has been the subject of several studies that examine its potential in treating several diseases and disorders.

There have also been several studies done to investigate CBD’s possible effect on cocaine addiction.

A review highlights results indicating that the endocannabinoid system (ECS) may promote certain aspects of cocaine addiction.

Few studies examined the effects of CBD, and researchers found that it may have therapeutic properties on opioid, cocaine, and psychostimulant drug addiction.

In a review, the authors found that, in some cases, CBD could treat substance use disorder more effectively when used in conjunction with THC.

In another study, the authors assessed the effects of CBD on brain reward function and the reward-facilitating effect of morphine and cocaine. Results showed that CBD inhibited the reward-facilitating effect of morphine, but not cocaine.

Moreover, a group of researchers also investigated the impact of THC and CBD on cocaine-induced conditioned stimulants in animal models. 

Results indicate that although CBD does not seem to influence stimulants’ rewarding effect, the compound may impact addictive behaviors during the relapse phase.

CBD and Cocaine Interactions

People sometimes take cocaine and marijuana together to lower the intensity of cocaine ‘high.’

However, even though users are not feeling the effects of the cocaine as strongly, the drug is still affecting their body in the same way, leading to a cocaine overdose. 

Also, since THC, a psychoactive component, lowers one’s inhibitions, the user is more inclined to take more cocaine than he or she would usually consume and over a shorter length of time.

The combination of THC and cocaine can also raise heart rate and blood pressure, which may amplify the risk of stroke and heart attack. 

A review indicates that marijuana can also weaken the efficacy of prescription antipsychotics or lead to heart disorders when combined with antidepressants.

As most CBD products contain trace amounts of THC, experts warn CBD users to take note of the adverse effects that come with combining cocaine and THC.


ClinicalTrials.gov, a database of clinical studies conducted around the world, lists numerous studies on cannabinoids, CBD, and cocaine-related disorders. However, there has been no high-quality evidence indicating that CBD can help with cocaine addiction.

CBD and cocaine, when used either alone or together, bring about varying degrees of risk.

Medical experts advise people to first consult with their doctor if they are looking to try CBD for general health care or to alleviate symptoms of specific ailments.

Susan Lindeman

Susan is a young mother and writer, passionate about cooking and blogging. She makes CBD-infused foods, like cookies and candies, to help her cope with anxiety and perform her daily tasks better.
Susan Lindeman

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Neonatal Hair Test for Cocaine: Toronto Experience

In large US cities, an estimated 10% to 45% of women cared for at teaching hospitals use cocaine during pregnancy. Between June 1990 and December 1991, we conducted a prevalence study of cocaine use during pregnancy in one inner-city and two suburban metropolitan Toronto hospital nurseries and found 37 of 600 (6.25%) infants tested positive for cocaine.

Since the neonatal hair test for cocaine was established in 1989 and its use as a research tool for ascertaining the prevalence of use in the Toronto area was confirmed, physicians, hospital nurseries, and social welfare agencies (e.g., Children’s Aid) have increasingly requested analysis of neonatal hair to corroborate or refute clinical suspicion of cocaine use during pregnancy when urine test results were negative. 

This report should help establish the sensitivity of clinical suspicion of in utero exposure to cocaine as validated by hair testing. 

The hypothesis underlying this research was that use of the hair test in cases of clinical suspicion but negative urine test results would yield a substantially higher prevalence rate than expected in the general population.

Samples for Neonatal Hair Test for Cocaine

Between October 1991 and April 1995, we analyzed hair samples from 192 neonates and four mother-infant pairs. Among the neonatal hair samples provided for analysis, 10 did not contain sufficient hair to analyze for cocaine metabolites, but 55 (30%) of the remaining 182 samples tested positive for the cocaine metabolite benzoylecgonine. Most samples (72%) were sent from hospital nurseries and clinics. The rest were sent from social welfare agencies and privately practicing physicians.

Neonatal Hair Test for Cocaine: The Results

Whether all newborns should be screened for exposure to cocaine is continually under debate. The complex relationships between maternal and fetal rights and the extremely heterogenous views on drug testing in western societies make it unlikely that routine screening will ever take place. 

Our results suggest strongly that it might be sufficient to test suspected cases based on nonspecific signs of cocaine exposure and not take on the enormous cost and ethical-legal liabilities inherent in universal testing.

  Confirmation of in utero exposure to cocaine might allow for earlier intervention to ensure proper care for both baby and mother. 

Both mother and infant should be closely followed with postnatal care, supportive counseling, contraceptive counseling, public health nurse visits, and training in parenting skills. Evidence shows that interventions such as home visits benefit children’s early development.

Publications on Recreational/Social Drugs: Cocaine

Morris P, Binienda Z, Gillam MP, Klein J, McMartin K, Koren G, Duhart HM, Slikker W Jr, Paule MG: The effect of chronic cocaine exposure throughout pregnancy on maternal and infant outcomes in the rhesus monkey. Neurotoxicology & Teratology. 19(1):47-57, 1997 Jan-Feb.

Koren G, Graham K, Shear H, Einarson T: Bias against the null hypothesis; The reproductive hazards of cocaine. Lancet 2: 1440-1442, 1989.

 Nulman I, Rovet J, Altman D, Bradley C, Einarson T, Koren G: Neurodevelopment of adopted children exposed in utero to cocaine. Can Med Assoc J 151: 1591-1597, 1994.

Eliopoulos C, Klein J, Koren G: Neonatal markers for intrauterine exposure to cocaine and nicotine. Can J Obstet Gynecol 6: 615-620, 1994.

Forman R, Graham K, Klein J, Greenwald M, Koren G: Accumulation of cocaine in fetal hair; The dose response curve. Life Sci 50: 1333-1341, 1992.

Forman R, Klein J, Meta D, Barks J, Greenwald M, Koren G: Maternal and neonatal characteristics following exposure to cocaine in Toronto. Reprod Toxicol 7: 619-622, 1993.

 Forman R, Klein J, Meta D, Barks J, Greenwald M, Koren G: Prevalence of fetal exposure to cocaine in Toronto 1990-1991. Clin Invest Med 17: 206-211, 1994.

Graham K et al: Pregnancy outcome and infant development following gestational cocaine use by social cocaine user. Koren G (ed): Maternal-Fetal toxicology, 2nd edition, Marcel Dekker, NY 371-386, 1994.

Graham K, Demitrakoudis D, Pellegrini E, Koren G: Pregnancy outcome following first trimester exposure to cocaine in non addict social users in Toronto. Vet Hum Toxicol 31: 143-148, 1988.

Graham K, Klein J, Forman R, Flynnk, Sakuma T, Davidson W, Koren G: Potential misclassification of a case of SIDS: Maternal and neonatal hair analysis for cocaine and heroin. Maternal Fetal Med 2: 91-93, 1993.

Graham K, Koren g, Klein J, Schneiderman J: Determination of gestational cocaine exposure by hair analysis. JAMA 262: 3328-3330, 1989.

Graham K, Koren G: Characteristics of pregnant women exposed to cocaine in Toronto between 1985 and 1990. Can Med Assoc J 144: 563-568, 1991.

Graham K, Koren G: Maternal cocaine use and risk of sudden infant death J Pediatr 115: 333, 1989.

Johnson D, Schwartz H, Forman R, Klein J, Jacobson, S, Greenwald M, Koren G: Assessment of in utero exposure to cocaine; Radioimmunoassay testing for benzoylecgonine in meconium, neonatal hair and maternal hair. Can J Clin Pharmacol 1: 83-86, 1994.

Addis A, Moretti M, Syed FA, Einarson TR, Koren G. Fetal effects of cocaine: an updated meta-analysis. Reprod Toxicol 15 (4): 341-69, 2001.

Nulman I, Rovet J, Greenbaum R, Loebstein M, Wolpin J, Pace-Asciak P, Koren G. Neurodevelopment of adopted children exposed in utero to cocaine: the Toronto Adoption Study. Clin Invest Med 2001 Jun;24(3):129-37

Klein J, Eliopoulos C, Ursitti F, Koren G: Issues in measuring cocaine and nicotine in neonatal hair. NIDA monograph (In Press)

Klein J, Forman R, Eliopoulos C, Koren G: A method of simultaneous measurement of cocaine and nicotine in neonatal hair. Ther Drug Monit 16: 67-70, 1994.

Klein J, Greenwald M, Becker L, Koren G: Fetal distribution of cocaine: Case analysis. Ped Pathol, 12: 463-468, 1992.

In Book:

Koren G et al: Biological markers of intrauterine exposure to cocaine and cigarette smoking. Koren G (ed): Maternal-Fetal Toxicology, 2nd edition, Marcel Dekker, NY 387-398, 1994.

Koren G, Klein J, Forman R, Graham K, My-Khan P: Biological markers of intrauterine exposure to cocaine and cigarette smoking. Dev Pharmacol Ther 18: 228-236, 1992.

Koren G, Klein J, Forman R, Graham K: Hair Analysis of cocaine: Differentiation between systemic exposure and external contamination. J Clin Pharmacol 32: 671-675, 1992.

In Book:

Koren G, Klein J, Graham K, Forman R: Hair test to verify gestational cocaine exposure. In: Recent Developments in TDM and Clin Toxicology Marcel Dekker, NY 569-574, 1992.

Koren G: Cocaine use by pregnant women in Toronto; An alarming note. IM Paint 11: 20-21, 1995 (Winter).

Koren G: Cocaine and the human fetus: The concept of teratophilia. Neurotoxicol & Teratol, 15: 301-304, 1993. No abstract available.

Levy M, Koren G: Obstetric and neonatal effects of drugs of abuse. Emerg Med N Amer 8: 633-652, 1990.

In Book:

Lutiger B et al: Relationship between gestational cocaine use and pregnancy outcome. Koren G (ed): Maternal-Fetal Toxicology, 2nd edition, Marcel Dekker, NY 353-370, 1994.

Lutiger B, Graham K, Einarson T, Koren G: Relationship between gestational cocaine use and pregnancy outcome: A meta-analysis. Teratology 44: 405-414, 1991.

Koren G, Gladstone D, Robeson C, Robieux I: The perception of teratogenic risk of cocaine. Teratology 46: 567-571, 1992.

Potter S, Klein J, Valiante G, Stack DM, Papageorgiou A, Stott W, Lewis D, Koren G, Zelazo PR: Maternal cocaine use without evidence of fetal exposure. J Pediatr 125: 652-654, 1994.

Ursitti F, Klein J, Koren G: Clinical utilization of the neonatal hair test for cocaine: a four-year experience in Toronto. Biology of the Neonate 1997;72(6):345-351

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