The opioid epidemic has continued to sweep through the country and resulting in devastating consequences for addicts and their families. The growing number of prescriptions combined with a lack of available alternative treatment options has only made the situation worse. As the number of people dealing with drug and alcohol challenges continues to grow; many researchers are looking for other means to treat addiction. CBD oil presents a number of potential advantages to the recovery process and they hope could be another tool at their disposal to get more people on the path to sobriety.
Let’s take a look at the potential of CBD as a treatment for addiction, how it might be able to help deal with uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and why researchers believe it can aid in the recovery process.
What is Addiction?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction is defined as “a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking, continued use despite harmful consequences, and long-lasting changes in the brain”.
Many people don’t realize that addiction is not a choice but rather largely due to a combination of predisposed brain chemistry and past experiences. That is where CBD comes in. CBD is believed to affect the neural pathways related to addiction and substance use.
Can CBD Help Fight Drug Cravings and Addiction?
CBD is well known for its versatility and range of therapeutic applications. So it’s no surprise that the research community and recovery world are exploring its potential as a treatment for drug and alcohol dependence.
When you consume CBD, it reacts with the endocannabinoid system responsible for various brain and body functions including mood, pain sensation, memory, and appetite. These are common conditions experienced by many dealing with addiction.
Because CBD can only legally contain 0.3% (or less) amounts of THC, it won’t get you ‘high’ like marijuana might. The use of marijuana to help treat addiction (also referred to as ‘marijuana maintenance’) is a widely debated topic and largely discouraged for this reason. But the non-psychoactive properties of CBD combined with its low risk and potential to alleviate these shared symptoms make it a promising treatment alternative.
Research On CBD and Addiction Recovery
Although research into CBD for substance abuse is in its early stages, it is thought that it can play a role in relapse prevention as well as in reducing anxiety related to drug cues. Even more than that, CBD might impact areas of the brain related to cravings, triggers as well as modify the way damaged brain cells of addicts communicate with each other.
Researchers also believe that due to its neuroprotective properties, CBD might be able to reduce neurodegeneration caused by excessive alcohol use which contributes to impulse control issues often seen in alcoholics.
A study published by the American Journal of Psychiatry, explored the potential of CBD as a means to reduce cue-induced cravings and anxiety in people struggling with heroin use disorder. Because these two aspects are common causes of relapse; the study aimed to demonstrate whether CBD can be used as a treatment option. Their results showed that CBD was effective in reducing both cravings and anxiety, compared to those who were given a placebo. Apart from that, participants were able to control their cravings for one week after their last dose; which further highlights the potential lasting effects of CBD as a treatment.
Another 2019 study that reviewed the therapeutic potential of CBD for Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) and alcohol-related damage found that CBD could directly reduce drinking as well as damage to the liver and brain caused by alcohol.
A Non-Addictive Treatment Alternative
Generally, when someone is struggling with an addiction to opioids; medications like Suboxone, Methadone, or Buprenorphine are used to reduce use and the risk of overdose. These drugs affect the same opioid receptors as heroin and other opioids. Unfortunately, for many people, these medications are underutilized and difficult to access.
Additionally, because they elicit euphoric effects, have the potential to be misused and can become addictive themselves. Because CBD is non-intoxicating or addictive; it might be an alternate and more accessible means of effectively treating addiction.
Treating Underlying Causes of Addiction
In addition to its potential as a treatment, CBD may help those living with an active addiction manage withdrawal symptoms and issues that commonly contribute to their substance use. For example, CBD has shown promise in dealing with:
Anxiety and substance abuse often go hand in hand. When someone is dealing with anxiety, doctors tend to prescribe anti-anxiety medications like benzodiazepines to help control symptoms. These medications carry a high risk of abuse and can lead to dependence.
Additionally, many people dealing with chronic anxiety turn to drugs or alcohol to help them feel better. Unfortunately, not only could this intensify those feelings but can quickly turn to addiction. However, evidence suggests CBD oil can be used as a natural alternative to deal with feelings of anxiety and stress.
Similar to anxiety, research suggests a strong correlation between depression and addiction. Antidepressants prescribed by doctors can lead to effects like insomnia, agitation, sexual dysfunction, headache, and drowsiness. Whether the person is using drugs or alcohol to cope with depression or to deal with the resulting effects of their medication; there is a clear need for another option. CBD has also continued to show promise in relieving symptoms of depression and mood disorders.
People that have been using drugs or alcohol for long periods of time might experience pain as their body works to ‘detox’ itself from the substance and find balance. Because of the way CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system; it offers a better option for managing symptoms of chronic pain and inflammation as opposed to other over the counter pain medications.
There is also evidence of CBD helping with other issues commonly linked with substance abuse like insomnia, PTSD, and trauma.
Remember to make sure to consult with a doctor before stopping or starting any prescription. They can also give you advice on whether you can start including CBD into your daily routine and answer any questions you might have.
Can CBD Help With Nicotine Addiction and Withdrawal
Nicotine is one of the most used addictive substances in the world. One of the prevalent reasons people continue to smoke cigarettes is to avoid withdrawal. Long time smokers that quit can experience a range of uncomfortable symptoms including anxiety, depression, irritability, headaches, and nausea. Rather than deal with these symptoms, people continue to smoke despite the consequences to their health. Because CBD has the potential to help alleviate many of these symptoms, it might also be the key to helping people quit smoking.
Due to CBD’s anti-anxiety properties, minimal side effects, and promising results to modify drug cues, a study was conducted in 2018 exploring the potential of CBD on nicotine withdrawal and as a smoking cessation treatment. They uncovered evidence that CBD reduced attentional bias and pleasantness of cigarette cues with no side effects, compared to those given a placebo. They went on to note that these results support the potential of CBD for targeting the neurocognitive processes associated with nicotine addiction.
CBD For Opiate and Alcohol Withdrawal
The results from the above studies have led researchers to explore whether CBD can also be effective as a treatment for withdrawal. The FDA’s approval of Epidiolex (a CBD oral solution) to treat some forms of epilepsy has intensified researcher’s hope that it can be used in a similar way to help ease symptoms of withdrawal.
Anyone who has overdone it with alcohol knows how uncomfortable hangover symptoms can be. While the symptoms might not be as severe as with other drugs, a hangover can be considered a type of withdrawal. Because alcohol disrupts neurotransmitters like serotonin it’s common for those dealing with a hangover to experience anxiety or depression. It can be even worse for people already prone to experiencing anxiety. Because CBD interacts with serotonin in the body it has been thought to help alleviate anxiety and hangover symptoms. These results show hope for the use of CBD to treat alcohol withdrawal as well as withdrawal from other drugs that affect the brain in a similar way.
CBD and Relapse Prevention
Addiction is a chronic condition and unfortunately, relapse is very common for those in recovery. In fact, it’s said that 40-60% of people relapse within the first year of sobriety. While the risk is greater for those in early recovery, it’s a threat that recovering addicts have to deal with their whole lives. Researchers continue to search for different ways to help lower the risk of relapse and deal with drug cravings. It is that pursuit that has introduced CBD to potentially be used as another means of preventing relapse.
One animal study explored the therapeutic potential of CBD for treating conditions that underlie the risk of relapse such as cravings due to environmental factors, susceptibility to stress, and heightened anxiety. During the study, researchers administered transdermal CBD to animals with a history of cocaine or alcohol use and have exhibited similar characteristics to an addict that relapsed. They found that CBD reduced drug seeking behavior and had long lasting effects, which can be valuable when it comes to relapse prevention.
Additional Relapse Prevention Tips
While CBD might help, there are other natural strategies you can use to help prevent relapse. Here are few tips for what you can include in your relapse prevention plan:
Focusing on self care through physical exercise and a balanced diet.
Keeping a proper sleep schedule.
Practicing meditation and mindfulness.
Deep breathing exercises to regulate your mood.
Identifying your common triggers. Being hungry, angry, lonely, and tired (HALT) are of the most common triggers.
Finding a support group like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.
Relying on a support network in tough situations.
Contacting a therapist, counselor, or rehab program for help and advice.
Discovering new hobbies to try.
Keeping a journal to track your
Avoiding places and friends that could put your sobriety at risk.
Keeping Your Recovery On Track
While more work is needed to definitively say whether CBD can increase the chances of long term abstinence and in what conditions it’s most effective; there is clear evidence that it warrants further consideration as a safer, more accessible and natural alternative to current medication treatment methodologies.
At Easy Day, we are sensitive to the immeasurable damage addiction can cause, both to the person as well as their loved ones. Recovery is a lifelong journey and while CBD is not a cure for addiction; research is uncovering more ways it can help make the process easier every day.
If you are ready to start adding CBD into your treatment program and see how it can help you achieve and maintain sobriety, Easy Day Hemp has a wide selection of premium oils and gels to choose from.
And because all of our products contain the legal amount of THC and are thoroughly tested for purity and quality, you can rest easy knowing that they are a safe and effective option for anyone looking to use CBD for their recovery.