Addiction is a complex condition of the brain that results in compulsive substance abuse regardless of its harmful effects. As of 2017 approximately 19.7 million Americans over the age of 12 have some form of addiction according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). The individual with addiction to substances have an intense focus on using the drug of choice due to changes in wiring of the brain making it difficult to ignore their intense cravings. Despite the stronghold that addiction has on those who suffer its effects there are treatments and therapies that have proven to assist with recovery.
Alternative Addiction Treatment
An up and coming treatment for addiction is ironically found in the cannabis (marijuana) plant. Cannabidiol, CBD as it is more well-known, is a compound in cannabis that does not produce the psychoactive effects or “high” as THC does. CBD has benefits that impact just about every area of health in the body by working with a system known as the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). The ECS contains receptors, CB1 and CB2, that are activated and trigger specific responses from the body ranging from immune responses, pain sensations, mental clarity, and quality sleep.
5 Reasons to Use CBD to Treat Addiction
- Less side effects and potential addiction over methadone.
- It is effective and fast.
- CBD offers additional health benefits other than addiction treatment.
- CBD is a natural substance while pharmaceuticals made for addiction are not.
- It reduce the chance of relapse.
Opioid Addiction and CBD
Opioid addiction has reached epidemic proportions. Opioids are prescription medications that are commonly prescribed for pain relief and act on opioid receptors in the body and produce morphine-like effects. Traditional treatment for opioid addiction typically includes additional prescription medications such as methadone along with various therapies or counseling. Unfortunately, methadone can have its own negative side effects and its own addiction occurrence.
Studies are showing CBD is an equally effective opioid addiction treatment without the side effects of methadone. CBD is a non-addictive substance, unlike other treatment options. Building tolerance and requiring higher doses is a concerning aspect of methadone, but the body does not develop a tolerance for CBD making is ideal to be used consistently long-term.
Methadone Withdrawal and CBD
Withdrawal from methadone is a harsh side effect which can cause those using the medication to avoid coming off of it, which is the goal, or cause them to begin using opioids again to relieve the pain and side effects associated with withdrawal. Not only can CBD be used long-term without negative health consequences, but if the consumer chooses to stop taking the herbal remedy there is no risk of painful withdrawal symptoms.
Heroin and CBD
Heroin is an illegal opioid with a high rate of addiction a well. A study looking at 42 men and women with a history of heroin addiction. The study showed that CBD was able to substantially reduce the potential for relapse. When participants were given CBD or a placebo and exposed to drug related cues those participants that were given CBD had less cue-induced anxiety and cravings.
Cigarettes and CBD
Cigarette addiction may not have the same life-altering implications as prescription medication addiction, but is still a serious addiction. It has been well known for years the effects that smoking has on the smoker’s health and the health of those that live in close quarters. Ironically, a major component of cannabis is proving to be an effective treatment in smoking cessation. Addictive Behaviors published a pilot study that showed smokers had a reduction in cravings and number of cigarette’s smoked when using inhalers with CBD.
What Does the Research Say?
Another study looked at the effects of transdermal CBD and its potential to reduce addiction relapse. Researchers administered CBD every 24 hours for seven days. At the end of the study, which was quite brief, a profound discovery was made that this short stent of CBD application deterred relapse for up to five months.
Further research has been conducted to get to the how of the CBD and addiction relationship. Through research the CB1 receptor, which is the cannabinoid receptor most related to addiction, was able to be modulated. Through this process it has been determined that CBD is able to reduce cravings, habits, sensitivity to triggers, pleasure sensations from drug use, withdrawal symptoms, and the feeling of satiety in relation to substances. A paper published in Cell Metabolism looks at CB1 activity being suppressed thereby reducing mice’s desire to drink.
The side effects of withdrawal from addictive substances can cause higher rates of relapse and are simply difficult to tolerate. Common withdrawal symptoms include unstable mood, insomnia, pain, anxiety, and depression. CBD is often used to treat these symptoms separate from addiction and withdrawal and are just as effective in treating them as a result of substance withdrawal. By improving these symptoms, the recovering addict is more likely to succeed in their detoxification and remain substance free long-term.