Using CBD as a Treatment for Addiction
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Using CBD as a Treatment for Addiction

Buying CBD oil can be a little more complicated than heading to the store to pick up a bottle of Aspirin or decide between different brands of flu medicine. CBD oil production isn’t federally regulated and it’s not always crystal clear what’s in any one bottle. The best way to choose a safe and effective product and also decide where to buy it from is to educate yourself as much as possible before making any purchases.

Addiction Is a Brain Disease

Addiction is not simply the pursuit of intoxication or an addict looking for their next high. Addiction can alter normal behaviour and change the way your brain processes information. It creates a compulsive need to abuse substances even when the user wants to stop or knows they’re hurting themselves. The desire to use can be triggered by more than just wanting to get high, it can be caused by environmental factors and cue-induced cravings.

Unlike THC, cannabidiol (CBD) does not produce an intoxicating effect or a sense of being high. Instead it affects your mood and your state of mind in other ways, reducing anxiety and combating depression. The mood and emotion regulating effects of CBD may play a part in its efficacy when being used for help with addiction. It’s antiemetic effects and ability to affect perception of pain can also help with the withdrawal period.

Symptoms of Withdrawal

Severe withdrawal symptoms can also play a part in the need for people to continue to use their substance of choice. The negative effects of withdrawal may include abdominal cramps, anxiety, diarrhea, elevated heart rate, nausea, and vomiting. Symptoms can be mild or they could become incredibly severe, depending on history, frequency of use, and an individual’s body chemistry.

When withdrawal symptoms are severe and the individual knows they can get rid of them by using again, people who are struggling with addiction may not see much value in simply waiting it out when they’re suffering from withdrawal. CBD may not remove these symptoms entirely but when used as part of a complete treatment plan it can be a valuable tool that does not create further dependency or side effects.

Methadone and Buprenorphine

The most common methods for opioid abuse treatment involve methadone and buprenorphine, both of which work on the same receptors as heroin and other opioids. While these substances can help greatly in the battle against opioid addiction, they can often be difficult to obtain for patients who are in need of them. The ability to prescribe these substances, as well as how much can be administered, is highly regulated. 

Aside from the issue of those who need them being capable of accessing them, there are also many who choose not to use these treatment options. They come with their own potential for addiction and as well as the possibility of undesirable side effects. Some patients may even choose not to use these methods based on the stigma that surrounds them. While these treatments are incredibly useful and often life-saving, developing a non-opioid based treatment for opioid addiction could solve many issues and create an invaluable alternative for treatment.

CBD as an Alternative Treatment Option

As previously mentioned, the antiemetic and pain killing properties of CBD could help with mild withdrawal symptoms. As discussed in this scientific abstract, CBD also shows antidepressant and anxiolytic effects. Anxiety and depression are often related to addiction issues, whether as the cause or effect, so CBD may be useful in treating the problem on this front as well.

In recent studies, CBD has been shown to reduce cue-induced cravings in former heroin users. Diminishing these types of cravings could be a significant weapon in battling the hold addiction has over so many people. Developing a non-opioid medication could have a huge impact on the current state of addiction treatment and the options available for patients seeking help.

Potential of Cannabidiol for the Prevention of Relapse

This study administered CBD transdermally to rats with alcohol or cocaine self-administration histories for 7 days. Treatment reduced the drug seeking behaviour without building tolerance to the CBD, producing sedation, or interfering with normal motivated behavior. These results persisted for the next 5 months, even though the CBD remained detectable in the brain and plasma for only 3 days. The results of this experiment shows treatment potential for reducing vulnerability in the early stages of withdrawal as well as providing long lasting effects after only a short treatment period.

CBD Inhibits Cue-Induced Heroin-Seeking Behaviour

In this study using an experimental rat model, administration of CBD did not reduce the rat’s intake of self-administered heroin but instead reduced the drug-seeking behavior that was prompted by a conditioned stimulus cue. This study shows the potential for treating heroin cravings and lowering the risk of relapse. The diminished drug-seeking behavior was evident after 24 hours and even up to two weeks after administration. The CBD was shown to control neural responses in relation to cue-induced relapse vulnerability.

Cannabidiol for the Reduction of Cue-Induced Craving and Anxiety

This study with human subjects also showed a reduction of cue-induced cravings as well as lower levels of anxiety, both of which are major factors that can contribute to relapse. The study was a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial. In comparison to the placebo group, the group treated with CBD showed significantly lower cravings and anxiety when presented with drug cues. There were no significant effects on the subject’s cognition and no serious side effects.

The recent trials that have been conducted using CBD to treat substance abuse problems show that CBD could be a very valuable treatment option for those struggling with addiction. Developing possible treatment plans that are built upon CBD therapies could be game changing. The lack of addictive qualities, potential for abuse, and side effects make CBD a very appealing choice for those seeking recovery. Further exploration into CBD as a viable treatment for addiction can provide safe options to overcome substance abuse and help to save countless lives that are lost or destroyed by addiction every day.

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