Over the years, Cannabidiol (CBD) has become a hugely accepted natural substitute for over-the-counter medications to treat a vast range of medical conditions. Unlike many natural supplements, CBD helps at combining symptoms of severe medical conditions such as high blood pressure, HIV/AIDS, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer.
However, among the least understood benefits of Cannabidiol is its effectiveness in treating withdrawal symptoms of alcohol and drugs.
How Does Cannabidiol Differ from Cannabis? -THC and vs. CBD
Cannabis contains both Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the cannabis component responsible for marijuana’s euphoric or psychoactive effects. THC induces a “high” by interacting with the brain’s CB1 receptors which affect the coordination of thinking, moods, and appetite.
Unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive, and its interaction with CB1 receptors does not alter perception. However, CBD creates changes responsible for maintaining wellness and health. Overall, CBD contains many useful cannabis compounds without psychoactive chemicals.
Using CBD For Addiction Recovery
Sufficient scientific evidence shows that CBD can be used as an efficient treatment method for symptoms related to substance abuse.
As is the case with many chronic disorders, addiction is a condition associated with episodes of remission and relapse. Since CBD is neither addictive nor psychoactive, it can act as the panacea of relieving anxiety and cravings experienced by people suffering from addiction. The ability of CBD to regulate dopamine receptors helps at offering relief to withdrawal symptoms such as:
• Sleep problems
• Agitation and mood swings
• Muscle pain
• Excessive hunger
• Cold and sweaty outbreaks
On this piece, we will focus on three studies that show the efficiency of CBD in treating addiction.
A 2018 Study by Scripps Research Institute on The Ability of CBD to Reduce Cocaine and Alcohol Relapse in Rats
The preclinical study in rats by Scripps Research Institute has shown that there could be value in using a non-addictive and non-psychoactive ingredient of cannabis Sativa, as this may reduce the risk of relapses among recovering addicts.
Every day for one week, researchers applied a CBD gel to the skin of rats that had a history of voluntary cocaine and alcohol self-administration. Different tests were done to see how they would react to anxiety-provoking and curious situations, as well as behavior in tests of impulsivity, which is a psychological trait associated with addiction.
The researchers reported that applying CBD on rats had effectively reduced relapse provoked by drug cues and stress. CBD was also reported to reduce anxiety and impulsivity associated with addiction. Even though further studies showed that CBD was completely cleared from the plasma and blood of the rats after three days, the experimental animals showed minimal relapse induced by drugs cues as well as relapses five months later.
Staying away from drugs is a constant battle for addicts. The struggle gets harder when abstaining addicts experience higher levels of stress anxiousness, or when they find themselves in drug-related settings. With CBD’s ability to reduce stress, anxiety, and cravings, recovering addicts can count on it as a convenient way of solving addiction.
A study by the University of London on the Effectiveness of CBD in Treating Nicotine Addiction
Results from the study led by Chandni Hindocha showed that CBD might be useful to people looking to stop smoking cigarettes.
The study found out that after a single CBD treatment dose, smoking-related cues were less visually attention-grabbing to heavy daily smokers. Since visual cues like seeing friends smoking often trigger relapses in abstaining smoking addicts, CBD could be used effectively in helping people overcome smoking addiction.
30 dependent smokers were given placebo or CBD pills 12 hours from smoking on separate occasions. Participants who took CBD noted attentional bias to stimuli related to tobacco than in the placebo condition. These participants were even less attentional bias to stimuli related to tobacco than in the placebo condition and were even less pleased by smoking-related images.
Previous research had found out that attentional bias is heightened by abstinence. This can lead to short-term relapse and plays a significant role in maintaining drug addiction. Scientists believe that attentional bias happens due to changes in the brain’s reward pathway caused by years of smoking.
Although withdrawal symptoms and cravings were not affected, researchers claimed that they would follow up trials using longer-term treatments with multiple doses to identify if withdrawal symptoms and cravings would be affected and deduce whether CBD can help maintain nicotine abstinence.
CBD For Opioid Addiction
Opioid addiction has claimed over 300, 000 lives in the United States as of now. Heroin is an illicit opioid. Other opioids include oxycodone, among other pain killers.
The two current treatments of opioid addiction are buprenorphine and methadone. These work on similar opioid receptors such as heroin. However, since these two treatments possess a stigma and carry addictions risks that are highly regulated, many people with opioid addictions don’t use them.
This has led to the need for addiction treatment options, with CBD being one of future opioid addictions treatment considerations.
A recent study published at the American Journal of Psychiatry shows that CBD could be useful at curbing associated with opioid addiction.
The study had 42 participants, both men, and women with a history of abusing heroin but not current users.
Study participants were given either an inactive placebo or an oral CBD solution and shown videos containing drug-related and neutral cues.
Drug-related cues included IV drug use, packet powders, and other heroin-related items, rubber ties, and syringes. Neutral cues had relaxing scenarios like nature scenes.
Researchers found out that unlike a placebo, CBD reduced participants’ anxiety and drug cue-induced cravings.
These findings indicate that CBD has a significant promise for treating persons with heroin use disorder. The team behind this research is now working on two follow-up studies: one meant to examine how CBD affects the human brain, and another to pursue the development of CBD-based treatments for solving opioid addiction.
There Is Still Need for More Research
While a few studies show CBD’s great potential in curbing addictions, there’s still a need for more comprehensive studies on CBD oil and addiction. Nevertheless, there is hope that CBD could be the greatest of all natural solutions for handling addictions.