Drug addiction is characterized by chronically relapsing and the compulsive desire to use drugs and other intoxicating substances. Addiction is also often marked by loss of control over the consumption of the substance, often leading to life-debilitating substance abuse. Many people do not realize that addiction is not a choice, and is often something we are predisposed to, in part due to our brain chemistry and past life experiences. Interestingly, cannabidiol (CBD) is believed to modulate neural pathways involved in drug addiction and substance abuse. Recent research has shown that CBD may have therapeutic effects on opioid, cocaine, and pysco-stimulant addiction. Further, preliminary data shows CBD can even be helpful in tobacco and cannabis dependence.
“Our findings indicate that CBD holds significant promise for treating individuals with heroin use disorder. A successful non-opioid medication would add significantly to the existing addiction medication toolbox to help reduce the growing death toll, enormous health care costs, and treatment limitations imposed by stringent government regulations amid this persistent opioid epidemic,”Yasmin Hurd, Director of the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai, New York City.
CBD For Withdrawal
From this, scientists have determined that CBD may be effective in treating addiction. Research suggests that CBD can reduce drug-seeking behaviour, cravings and anxiety triggered by environmental cues during periods of abstinence. There is evidence that some of these effects may continue long after treatment. To date, CBD has shown to be safe in combination with fentanyl – a potent opioid – suggesting it may be used safely with this drug in treatment for both pain relief and opioid withdrawal. CBD has also shown the potential to reverse neurotoxicity associated with binge-drinking, as a result of it’s antioxidant and neuroprotective properties. Read on to find out how CBD can help you or a loved one battle addiction.
CBD For Giving Up Smoking
Over 1 million people worldwide are cigarette smokers, with the primary addictive factor being nicotine withdrawal. Nicotine withdrawal occurs upon quitting, and usually peaks within the first few days. Nicotine withdrawal is characterized by physiological symptoms such as headaches and nausea, as well as affective symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and irritability. Further, nicotine withdrawal often leads to impaired cognitive performance. Some believe that smoking relapse is determined by the severity of withdrawal symptoms. This suggests that if CBD can ease the effects of withdrawal, people may be more successful in giving up smoking.
Research shows that CBD for withdrawal is a promising smoking cessation treatment due to its anxiolytic properties, minimal side effects, and the potential ability to modify “drug cue salience”. This refers to the motivation for rewards driven by physiological state and previously learned associations about a reward cue. In simpler terms, CBD may be able to modify our craving for drugs we are familiar with or may be addicted to. CBD’s anxiolytic properties make it an ideal treatment for nicotine withdrawal, particularly because anxiety is one of its worst symptoms.
A 2018 study showed that high doses of CBD given to smokers reduced the pleasantness of cigarette images and decreased blood pressure after overnight abstinence. Attention bias – the tendency for current thoughts to change one’s perception – was also directed away from cigarette cues when high doses of CBD were administered. The study consisted of dependent cigarette smokers and was randomized and double blind, ensuring strong statistical conclusions.
CBD For Heroin and Opioid Withdrawal
Researchers also believe that CBD for withdrawal may help with the powerful cravings associated with opioid addiction. Heroin is a commonly known illegal opioid drug, whereas prescription painkillers such as oxycodone also fall into the drug class. The overpromotion of opioids by doctors coupled with the lack of available alternative pain treatment options has led to an epidemic of opioid addiction. However, treatment with CBD is a promising possibility for those living with opioid addiction. Recently, a study was conducted with 42 subjects with a history of heroin abuse. Participants either received a placebo or an oral dose of CBD, and were then shown neutral cues (scenes of nature, for example) and drug-related cues (including scenes of IV drug use, heroin use, and related items). It was concluded that CBD was more effective than the placebo in reducing anxiety and drug-cue induced cravings.
CBD is a particularly promising opioid treatment due to its non-addictive and non-habit forming properties. Treatments for opioid addiction such as methadone and suboxone (buprenorphine) do exist but carry a stigma as well as their own risk of addiction. In fact, methadone and suboxone still fall into the opioid drug class. As such, CBD may also be used to combat addiction to methadone or suboxone. All of the Calyx CBD tinctures contain pure CBD isolate with 0.03% THC, making it a safe and sensible option for anyone looking to use CBD for their addiction.
CBD For Benzodiazepine Withdrawal
Benzodiazepines, commonly referred to as “benzos” are often prescribed for anxiety and difficulty sleeping (coincidentally something many people use CBD for). Common examples of benzodiazepines include alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium) and lorazepam (Ativan). Benzodiazepines create a calming and sedative effect that may be particularly intoxicating for some, and can even create a “hangover” effect the next day. For this reason, people using benzodiazepines on a frequent basis are often not able to drive or operate machinery. These limitations are often unrealistic and can place a major financial strain on patients who must drive or operate machinery for their work. Further, research shows that long-term benzodiazepine use carries significant risks and side effects. This includes varying levels of dependence, problems with concentration, addiction, and even overdose. In short, these drugs may be useful for treating acute anxiety for a short period of time, but the long-term risks far surpass using a CBD isolate to manage one’s anxiety within a more long-term context. It is best to consult with your doctor to find the safest and most effective way to manage your anxiety.
A peer reviewed study conducted by Aleafia Health studied the effect of both benzodiazepine and CBD use found that through using CBD for withdrawal many users were able to stop or diminish their benzodiazepine use. It is worth noting that cessation of benzodiazepine use was not an intended goal for the study, but may have been an individual goal set by patients and physicians participating in the study. After the first visit of the study, 30% of patients reported that they had discontinued their use of benzodiazepines with the figure rising to 45%. Further, at the first visit 75% of participants agreed that their quality of life is significantly diminished due to a medical condition, with that figure dropping to only 45% after the third visit.
CBD For Alcohol Abuse and Withdrawal
Dr. George F. Koob, director of the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) describes hangovers as a “mini-withdrawal” from alcohol – anxiety being one of the main components. Anxiety is a common symptom associated with a hangover or withdrawal and can be even worse for those already prone to anxiety. This often produces debilitating effects that can last all day. This withdrawal, depending on the severity, can cause users to consume more alcohol to suppress their symptoms, leading to a dangerous, yet common, feedback loop.
In the moment of use, alcohol increases the feel-good dopamine levels in our brain, but also disrupts other neurotransmitters, including serotonin – an important factor in regulating our mood. A disruption of serotonin levels is likely what’s responsible for your potentially anxious, depressed, impulsive, irritated, or agitated mood while hungover. A study was done by Jose Alexandre Chippa and his colleagues at the University of Sao Paulo and King’s College London found that CBD interacts with our serotonin system to reduce feelings of anxiety or depression. This suggests that CBD products may be incredibly effective at mitigating the withdrawal-induced anxiety related to alcohol use, or withdrawals from other substances that also alter brain chemistry.