The public perception of cannabis has come a long way since the days in which it was reviled as ‘The Assassin of Youth’. Indeed, today it is considered to have a range of potential medical benefits, including as an aid to combating addictions. The hemp plant contains high levels of a chemical named cannabidiol (CBD), which clinical trials have suggested can work to ease dependence on nicotine, alcohol, and even stronger drugs, a selection of which you can find below:
- Clinical trials proved that those treated with CBD significantly reduced the number of cigarettes they smoked by ~40% during treatment (Source)
- A study used CBD for the treatment of alcohol-induced neurodegeneration. Neurogeneration is considered to be the main cause of the chronic and relapsing nature of alcoholism. (Source)
- CBD lowers stimulus cue-induced heroin seeking behavior, helping to prevent heroin craving and relapse (Source)
- CBD actually counterbalances the “high” effects of THC, helping to curbside effects caused by smoking marijuana (Source)
The properties of CBD were first isolated and revealed by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1992. Along with his exploration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive component of cannabis, Dr. Mechoulam found that CBD actually worked on a part of the nervous system known as the endocannabinoid system, which plays a role in bodily functions as diverse as appetite, memory, the immune system, and pain sensation.
In this sense, CBD works within the nervous system to act as a regulator and an aid to a vast range of internal processes. One of the implications of this, according to some studies, is that CBD may be helpful in dealing with a whole variety of serious conditions including addiction, anxiety, depression (Know here what is the best CBD oil for anxiety and depression), multiple sclerosis, cancer, stroke, obesity/metabolic syndrome, neuropathic pain, Huntington’s disease, myocardial infarction, movement disorders, hypertension, glaucoma, seizure disorders, Parkinson’s disease and osteoporosis – and perhaps even more!
One very important thing to remember if you’re thinking about using CBD is that while both chemicals are found in cannabinoids, the effects of CBD are broadly unrelated to the effects of THC – the anxiety, euphoria and general psychoactive intrigue that you may have experienced from use of cannabis. We repeat: CBD is generally nothing like using cannabis, so if you’re worried about panic attacks or feeling a bit trippy, you don’t need to. In fact, the properties of CBD tend to counteract and even heal the negative effects of other drugs (see below) rather than engender an ‘unfamiliar’ mental space. So don’t fret!
Considering all of this in addition to CBD’s documented use in treating addiction, it may seem to be all a bit too good to be true. So let’s have a closer look at the question of substance abuse:
SO HOW DOES IT ACTUALLY HELP WITH ADDICTION?
Excessive alcohol consumption is not only extremely damaging to the liver, but also to the brain. In fact, regular heavy drinking leads to a process called neurodegeneration – literally meaning that the all-important neurons in the brain start to die off. In real terms, this results in behavioral and cognitive changes which actually make it more likely for the individual to suffer frequent relapses into alcohol abuse.
In a study to test the notion that CBD might be useful to treat alcohol abuse, researchers found that “the CBD gel resulted in a 48.8% reduction in neurodegeneration” in the patient. The reason for this is that CBD acts as something called a neuroprotectant, working against further damage from alcohol and even going some way to repair existing damage. This effect makes CBD an especially promising treatment for alcoholism, as its restorative properties break the vicious cycle of increased neurodegeneration causing relapses, which in turn cause further damage.
CBD helps reduce withdrawal symptoms from smoking
Nicotine withdrawal is a harsh process which can bring on headaches (find out here how CBD oil works for migraines), anxiety, insomnia, and irritability. As any lab rat knows, the brain has a sort of reward system by which, in the case of addictive behavior, pleasure is given through indulging such behavior after a period without the necessary chemicals. Nicotine and THC (which is also found in cannabis) both boost this mechanism, and when an addicted individual is deprived of such chemicals, the brain ‘asks’ for more by causing problems which can only be fixed by giving the ‘reward’.
Using CBD products that have little to no THC component like thc free CBD vape oil counteracts this process by disrupting the reward mechanism, making it difficult for the brain to ‘ask’ for its fix. Further to this, nicotine and THC make your neuron receptors less sensitive, which can make the individual more vulnerable to irrational anxiety, irritability and the like – by contrast, CBD stimulates these receptors, making withdrawal far less unpleasant.
This should go some way to illustrate the diverse ways in which CBD can assist with treating addictions – rather than having a single ‘point’, CBD works as a general aid to the body’s natural systems, helping them to avoid the harmful effects of bad habits and indeed to mend the damage caused by substances such as tobacco and alcohol.
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO TAKE CBD?
From the word go, it’s very important to figure out what kind of CBD product is right for you if you’re going to get the most out of the treatment. As a rule of thumb, it’s good to proceed with caution – don’t go looking for the strongest dose that’s going to cure all your problems in one hit, because that’s just not how it works, and our in-house examination of research done on CBD supports this.
Start weak, experiment with different methods of intake, and once you’ve found one that works for you, increase the dose to as much as is necessary to help you with your addictions. For guidance on different methods of CBD use, have a look through our post on the Top 6 Ways to Take CBD.
CBD Oil Adviser offer one good tip to make your CBD use as similar to your regular mode of intake as possible – for example, if you usually consume nicotine through a vape pen or e-cigarette, then taking CBD through the same kind of device will help combat the psychological component of addiction as well as the physical. Similarly, it can help to take CBD in a form that is a traditional ‘comfort’ habit for you. Think of what you would normally do to curb cravings and try to find a CBD product which matches it. Get the urge to eat sweets when you’re withdrawing from something? Perhaps CBD edibles would be worth a look in. You get the idea – make yourself comfortable.
There’s no doubt that the early days will be a lot of trial and error, a lot of experimenting – but CBD’s medicinal properties make it a strong choice to help combat substance abuse. See what works for you and what doesn’t, and when something does, stick with it – we wish you the best of luck and happy hunting!