DENVER -- An estimated 2 million people in the U.S. are struggling with addiction to pain killers. Many then turn to the street drug heroin.
A new study released by the Addiction Institute of Mount Sinai shows the marijuana derivative CBD may be able to help them beat it, but only under a doctor’s strict supervision.
Dr. Sarah Cohen of the Resource Medical Center tells the FOX31 Problem Solvers whether it’s a street drug or one found in a medicine cabinet, the effect on the brain is the same.
"We see that CBD helps to regulate the addicted brain, we’re seeing in animal models it reduces drug seeking behavior," Cohen said.
Cohen adds that not all CBD comes from clean sources ,so medical guidance is necessary. In addition, she explains that treating any addiction is a process that must be monitored for the patient’s safety.
"There is a lot of discomfort involved in getting off of opiates, especially if you do it on your own. So, there are a lot of strategies clinicians have to help ease the transition," she said.
Doctors say treating an addiction as soon as possible is crucial. Ninety-four percent of opioid users who developed a heroin addiction say they tried street drugs when they could no longer get prescriptions for painkillers.
David Bessey, leader of 180 Ministries, works to help those struggling with addiction. He tells FOX31 he understands the challenges they face because he too battled an addiction to heroin.
"They just feel so defeated so in this place of ‘I am nothing’ and that hurts," Bessey said.
Bessey says at his lowest point, his family cut him off and he attempted suicide. That’s when he decided to reach out for help.
Bessey is now celebrating four years of sobriety -- something he says is an example of why no one should ever give up hope of a better life.
"You can do this. You can get out of this problem," he said.
If you are struggling with addiction and would like more information, visit the following treatment programs and health resources:AlertMe