Alcoholism is one of the supposed ailments that CBD can help with. This article will help to inform you of what CBD can and can’t do and clear up what’s true and what’s not with CBD.
Can CBD help with alcoholism? Yes, studies show CBD can help with alcoholism because it helps to reduce withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, it promotes anti-compulsive behavior and can reduce the effect of liver damage caused by alcohol.
This article shows many of the ways that it can also help with alcoholism, so read on to uncover how and why CBD helps.
As an example, one scientific study from this article showed that CBD can help to “reduce anxiety and prevented the development of high impulsivity in rats with an alcohol dependence history.”.
As with the majority of CBD’s supposed benefits, research is in the early stages.
These early studies are promising, however, and users of CBD praise its effects.
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.
Table of Contents
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 alcoholism?
Alcoholism is an extreme and unhealthy way of drinking which leads to a constant urge and desire to drink – like an addiction.
People who have alcoholism place drinking above everything else, whether that is family, work or themselves. With constant reliance on drinking comes tolerance and withdrawal symptoms, just with any other drug. The recommended amount for both men and women to drink weekly is no more than 14 units.
Long term drinking of alcohol can lead to serious health conditions including:
- Heart disease
- Liver disease
- Liver cancer
- Breast cancer
- Bowel cancer
- Mouth cancer
Along with these physical issues, alcoholism can lead to many lifestyle issues like divorce, unemployment, and homelessness.
General drinking advice to lower the risk of alcoholism or other alcohol-related problems are:
- Both men and women should not drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week, regularly.
- When drinking more than 14 units a week, spread it over 3 or more days.
- When trying to reduce the amount of alcohol you drink, have multiple ‘drink-free’ days every week.
- Do not drink whilst pregnant or trying to become pregnant.
Traditional remedies for alcoholism include:
Self-help groups like alcoholics anonymous or counseling such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) which is also used in treatment for other addictions
There are two medications for alcoholism, both aimed at differing aspects of the addiction. One is (more often than not) ‘chlordiazepoxide’ which looks to treat the withdrawal symptoms associated with alcoholism these include:
- Insomnia/difficulty sleeping
- Hand tremors
The other medications are (commonly) acamprosate and naltrexone which looks to treat the urge to drink. Both medications are generally prescribed for 6 – 12 months.
Finally, the other traditional treatment is detoxification which involves abstention (stopping consumption) from drink or drugs (over time) until the bloodstream is free of toxins.
How does CBD help?
CBD helps, in the same way, the medicines mentioned above do.
Research and studies have shown that CBD can help with anxiety, depression, and insomnia (some of the most renowned benefits associated with CBD) these are all withdrawal symptoms that can from alcoholism.
Relapsing comes from the urge to begin drinking or doing drugs again.
Reasons for relapsing include stress, anxiety and that ‘urge’ all of which CBD has been shown to help with.
A study done in 2010 found that CBD can promote anti-compulsive activity (urge to drink or take drugs) which can lead to picking up the drugs or drinking again.
A 2019 study found that – in rodents – CBD helped to reduce the effect of liver damage caused by alcohol.
The same study found that CBD also reduced the desire to consume alcohol and the stress from not doing so as well as reducing the likelihood of alcohol withdrawal seizures.
In human studies, CBD was well tolerated and did not interact with the standard effects of alcohol such as intoxication.
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.
Dosage for CBD depends on weight, and the ailment you are trying to treat. For alcoholism, around 20 mg of CBD should help to reduce the symptoms.
If the desired effect is not felt, the dosage can be increased gradually until said the desired effect is felt.
The table below gives an outline of body weight relating to dosage, for alcoholism look to the lower and medium dosage columns.
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.
Alcoholism is a life-changing and life-threatening issue. CBD should not be used as the main treatment, rather a potential side help – always consult with and talk to your doctor before beginning any new medication.
If you or your friend has alcoholism do not substitute CBD for a doctor’s appointment or help with other prescribed medication.
CBD has been shown to help with addiction and this relates to alcoholism as much of the issues associated are similar.
CBD has been shown to help with relaxation (stopping that ‘urge’) as well as helping with the withdrawal symptoms.