CBD’s popularity is ever-growing as more and more research is done on its benefits and potential for treating various ailments.
From A-Z there is a wide assortment of ailments that CBD can supposedly help with. One of these is the potential for helping in addiction recovery.
This article will help to inform you of what CBD does and doesn’t do, what’s true and what’s not, as there are many common misconceptions.
Can CBD help with addiction recovery? Yes, multiple research studies have shown that CBD provides a variety of benefits and does help patients in recovering from addictions, whether that is an addiction to alcohol, smoking, and drugs.
A study published in 2018 found that, in rats who had alcohol or cocaine dependency, CBD helped “reduce anxiety and prevented the development of high impulsivity in rats with an alcohol dependence history.”
With the study further suggesting that these results provided the early potential for CBD’s usage in relapse prevention.
As with the majority of CBD’s supposed benefits, research is in the early stages. That said – addicts who have used CBD for treatment praise its impact and results.
Many variables have to be considered with CBD because it depends on the product, the quality of it and how some people metabolize CBD differently, just as with any biohacking supplement.
Also, CBD can interact with other prescription drugs so it’s vital you are informed as to these risks in treating addiction problems.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol oil (CBD) is extracted from the leaves, stalks, and flowers of industrial hemp plants. CBD is a cannabinoid, these are compounds found in the cannabis plant species. Unlike the similarly prominent cannabinoid, THC. CBD is non-psychoactive meaning it does not produce a ‘high’.
Because CBD is extracted from industrial hemp plants, it contains less than 0.2 – 0.3% THC content, so long as the product abides by this content level, it is legal in the US, UK, and Canada.
THC is the main psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant species, it is responsible for the ‘high’ that cannabis gives you.
What is addiction?
Addictions can apply to many things, from the internet and sex to illegal drugs and alcohol, there is a wide range of things which can be addicting.
The main reason for addiction to something (whether that is the internet or nicotine) is because of the way it makes you feel.
Nicotine, drugs, alcohol change the way you feel both physically and mentally.
The user could enjoy this change and want to recreate that feeling by doing what they did before again, it could be drinking, smoking or even shopping.
This urge to constantly recreate this feeling can lead to a habit that can be very hard to stop, and then addiction.
Withdrawal symptoms are part and parcel of addiction. They can be quite extreme and very difficult to cope with, this adds to the want to recreate that feeling and leads to more urge to do so, fueling the addiction.
Addiction is life-changing, it can damage everything from your mental and physical health to your relationships.
By some studies, addiction has been shown to be genetic and much real-life cases back this up, but things like environment (for example the people you surround yourself with) can also determine the likelihood of addiction.
Addiction can be used as a way of relieving other difficulties in life like stress and depression, but it is an extremely unhealthy and dangerous coping mechanism and will only worsen these already difficult struggles.
Addiction is treatable, however, the difficulty herein lies in getting the person to admit that they are addicted and need help, then getting them the treatment.
Traditional treatments include:
- Alternative medication
Talking to a therapist is a fantastic way to speak about your feelings and open up. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help to see how your thoughts and feelings affect behavior.
Detoxification is a medical treatment for an alcohol or drug addiction that involves abstention from drink or drugs (stopping consumption) until the bloodstream is free of toxins.
With some drug addictions such as heroin or opioid-dependent addiction, substitutes may be offered to satisfy the addiction, without the addict having to purchase drugs from the streets or experience withdrawal.
Self-help sessions like ‘anonymous’ classes and groups are a helpful alternative/partner to therapy as talking with others who have the same issues can be useful in moving forward and becoming inspired to change.
How does CBD help?
Addiction is one problem, relapsing is another.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, between 40 to 60% of people recovering from (drug) addiction relapse. CBD can help with relapsing and addiction itself.
Reasons for relapsing include:
- Urge to recreate that feeling (as aforementioned)
- Increased potential for failure to resist a temptation
CBD can help to aid in all these reasons.
As shown in our article on CBD and anxiety (linked here) CBD has anxiolytic effects, this study gives evidence.
CBD can also exert stress-reducing feelings, backed up by this study.
Studies have also shown that CBD can promote anti-compulsive activity which can have detrimental effects on people with addictions.
CBD forms and dosage
CBD comes in a variety of forms, these include:
- Oil in sprays and tinctures
- Vaporizers/vape oils
- Infused water
- Infused coffee
- Shower gels/bath bombs/bath salts and shampoos
Dosages for CBD are not currently outlined for each individual ailment that it is supposed to help with. Guidelines are available online and on the back of the packaging for CBD products.
The dosage depends on weight, and the ailment you are trying to treat. For addiction, around 25 mg of CBD should help to reduce symptoms of addiction, this dosage can be slowly increased until the desired effect is felt.
The table below gives an outline of body weight relating to dosage, for addiction look to the medium dosages.
Misconceptions surrounding CBD
Does CBD get you high?
CBD does not get you high. Legal CBD extracted from industrial hemp plants are legally required to contain less than 0.2 % in the UK, and 0.3% in the US, THC content. This amount is insignificant and presents no risk of getting ‘high’ from taking any CBD products.
Legality of CBD
In Canada, CBD along with recreational marijuana use is legal, however individual provinces have their own laws so check here for a more detailed outline on the legality of CBD in Canada. CBD products from Canada may contain more than the legal amount of THC (as there is no limit) than other countries allow, so be cautious in transporting or trying to import CBD products from Canada.
In the United States, some states have legalized recreational marijuana use while some outlaw CBD as they do not differ it from marijuana itself, check here for a state by state guide on the legality of CBD in the US.
In federal law, CBD is legal so long as it is extracted from industrial hemp plants and contains less than 0.3% THC content.
In the United Kingdom CBD is legal as long as it is extracted from industrial hemp plants and contains less than 0.2% THC content.
In Australia, CBD and other ‘medicinal cannabis’ products can only be prescribed by a registered medical practitioner following an in-depth assessment of the patient’s condition and individual, outside circumstances.
Side effects and risks of CBD
Side effects of CBD are largely uncommon and insignificant. Short term side effects include:
- Tiredness + mood changes
- Appetite change
Long term side effects are unstudied as studies have only recently begun on CBD.
Failing a drug test because of CBD
Drug tests look for THC and its metabolites.
Because CBD contains trace amounts of THC a false positive can result from taking CBD so be cautious when taking CBD before a drug test. Both the Hemp and Marijuana plant, which CBD can be derived from, contain THC.
Industrial Hemp is legal because the amount of THC is limited to 0.2 – 0.3%, where Marijuana plants have no limit, which is why the plant is illegal.
CBD can interfere with your body’s ability to process certain pharmaceutical drugs; specifically, it inhibits cytochrome p450.
As with some other medications, CBD is metabolized in the body by the enzymes in the CYP450 system. So, in competing for these enzymes, CBD can reduce the metabolism of other drugs, raising their blood levels and having the inhibitor effect described above.
This means that lower dosages are more likely to be required without knowing so. This could lead to the potentially harmful levels suggested above.
Clinical trials have shown this where CBD is provided in hundreds of milligrams (mg) daily.
The average CBD supplement pill can range from 10 to 40 mg, therefore the effect may not be as strong in smaller doses of CBD. Drugs that are affected by grapefruit do have warnings so watch out for these and avoid CBD when seeing this warning.
CBD is a useful self-help option for aiding in addiction recovery.
It is not an alternative to help such as therapy or alternative medication but rather aside.
Do not substitute CBD for a doctor’s appointment or help, if you have an addiction always seek help from those you trust and doctors who will help you.
That said – CBD has been shown to help in recovery from addiction and prevention of relapse.