Can CBD Help Treat Substance Abuse, Social Anxiety, and Depression?

A recent case study published in the journal of Neuropsychiatrie found Cannabidiol (CBD) to be beneficial in the treatment of multiple substance use disorder, severe depression, social phobia, and narcissistic personality disorder with the additional benefit of lacking withdrawal symptoms at the end of the treatment.

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CBD has been a topic of interest for clinicians and researchers for its potential utility in treating a litany of common ailments, including both mental and physical disorders. There has been a relative dearth of literature published about the potential applicability of CBD in the treatment of psychiatric conditions. Research studies have been conducted, focusing predominantly on individuals with psychotic disorders.

CBD has previously been shown to be beneficial for those who suffer from psychotic disorders, or those at risk for such disorders. Some findings demonstrate an improvement in the symptoms of these conditions.

However, there is still a lack of data available about the potential applicability of CBD in the treatment of anxiety and substance abuse disorders. As a result, this case-study acts as somewhat of a pioneer and could serve as the scaffolding for future studies to come.

The Study

The report in question concerned the case of an approximately 17-year-old male who had been diagnosed with multiple substance use disorder, severe depression, social phobia, and narcissistic personality disorder. The patient had symptoms of paranoia, attention deficit, derealization (feeling that one’s surroundings are artificial), social anxiety, and social withdrawal. Concerning substance abuse, he was using cannabis, MDMA, cocaine, and ecstasy habitually. The patient was taking an antidepressant medication that is also used to treat social anxiety disorders.


During the study, clinicians administered a dose of CBD twice daily, increasing the dose after three weeks. During this time, the patient also received group therapy, individual psychotherapy, social cognition training (training to improve the perception of specific social cues, including facial expression), occupation therapy, and physiotherapy.

Psychological assessments were conducted before and after eight weeks of CBD therapy. Symptoms of depression and anxiety, risk for psychosis, and baseline cognitive function were measured at several points throughout CBD administration using a variety of metrics.


Interestingly, the patient decided to discontinue his antidepressant medication after three weeks of CBD administration. The sudden cessation of antidepressant medication without titration (slow reduction of dose) is traditionally perceived as dangerous by most clinicians. However, after complete cessation of the drug (while taking CBD), the patient was not observed to have any change in either mood or anxiety symptoms.

It is also of note that the patient had not experienced any side effects, such as changes in heart rate, blood pressure, and weight. The patient also showed no evidence of further substance abuse upon weekly drug screening. Additionally, laboratory evaluations displayed no changes in the patient’s liver and kidney functioning or blood composition. In effect, there were no notable side effects or drug withdrawal symptoms documented whilst the patient was taking CBD.

Findings demonstrated an improvement in both depressive and anxiety symptoms, including those relating to specific phobias, paranoia, and dissociation.

Significance and Limitations

Based on these results, it appears that CBD treatment played a role in the overall improvement of the patient. The importance of this can only be conclusively determined through further studies of this nature, particularly those involving larger numbers of patients. At present, there is insufficient evidence to apply these results in a broader medical context, but this research provides an excellent start.

This is the first study to investigate CBD treatment in a patient with multiple substance abuse disorders in which a positive change in the patient’s condition was seen. Of additional note is the patient’s’ cessation of drug abuse without experiencing any discernible symptoms of withdrawal.

Final Thoughts

If such data can be replicated in future studies, then it is likely that CBD will begin to be used in the treatment of a wider range of psychiatric conditions by medical practitioners around the world.