Substance abuse can be defined as misuse or overuse of alcohol, prescription medicine, or other legal substances, as well as the use of illegal substances. Substance abuse differs from addiction in that addiction is a disease that cannot just be stopped or quit, whereas substance abuse is related to lifestyle choices which can be altered or stopped in order to address the issue (WebMD, 2018). While it may not rise to the level of addiction, substance abuse is still a serious issue and if it is not addressed it can quickly veer into the lane of addiction. Can CBD help substance abuse addiction?
Finding a way to get a handle on substance abuse is important, and CBD can be a step in the right direction. CBD is a relatively new method that is gaining ground in the realm of substance abuse treatment and it may very well be worth exploring.
What is CBD?
CBD or cannabidiol is a constituent of cannabis that is non-psychoactive and non-addictive in its purest form. This naturally occurring substance can be used in products such as oils, edibles, drinks, supplements, creams, etc. It was initially explored for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects.
As a curiosity, research and education grew it began to be explored for its benefits in helping reduce seizures and how it can help epilepsy, as well as its benefits for chronic pain conditions. However, research has now shifted towards the role of CBD in controlling cravings linked to substance abuse (Felton, 2019).
CBD and Substance Abuse
There is literature that examines the links between CBD and its pharmacotherapeutic use in the prevention of relapse in drug use. It’s believed that CBD targets risk states of drug use relapse by reducing anxiety and stress-related drug cues within the brain, while also mediating anti-depressant activity. Not only that, but CBD is thought to have an impact on parts of the brain circuitry that is responsible for drug craving and seeking behaviors that are triggered by drug-related context and stress (Dimitrova, 2019).
A study led by Yasmin Hurd, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry showed how CBD could reduce cravings in people with heroin drug addiction. The study included 42 men and women with a history of heroin abuse trying to abstain from relapse In the double-blinded study participants were shown two videos – a neutral video with scenes of nature and a video with drug-related cues designed to trigger cravings.
Participants were broken up into three groups- people given 400mg of CBD, people given 800mg of CBD, and a placebo group. Study results revealed that participants experienced higher craving after seeing the heroin-related video, however, those given CBD reported less drug craving than those in the placebo group.
There was also a reduction in anxiety and reduction in the stress hormone cortisol observed in those given CBD. These results were seen as soon as one hour after the administration of CBD and still seen up to one week after the intervention (Dimitrova, 2019).
CBD and Types of Substance Abuse
When looking at CBD, there are specific ways CBD seems to work with regard to specific types of substances. Studies on CBD for opioid addiction have found that this treatment can help the nervous system and the neurotransmitters that influence addictive behavior, while also aiding in the alleviation of symptoms of anxiety and depression.
When examining CBD’s impact on cocaine abuse, studies have shown dramatic decreases in anxiety and impulsivity. Research on CBD for alcoholism has found that CBD could aid in helping alcohol abuse patients deal with symptoms of anxiety and insomnia, as well as decrease their risk of relapse. While studies looking at CBD and tobacco have found that CBD can actually help combat the negative effects of nicotine, helping people cope with withdrawal (Richter, 2020).
This evidence has shown that the early research into CBD and its role in aiding in substance abuse treatment are promising. It seems as though CBD has positive implications in terms of helping control impulses, decreasing the risk of relapse, and helping manage negative emotions/stress that could lead to drug abuse. This research demonstrates that CBD should continue to be explored and pursued for its health benefits in being a non-addictive and non-toxic option for substance abuse treatment.
Tips on Finding the Best CBD Products
With so many CBD products, it can be hard to know which brand to choose and how to tell which will work for you. You will want to look for a few things to make sure you are getting the best available CBD oil.
Price- If it seems like a super good deal, chances are it’s not pure and not made properly. This can be harmful to your body and cause unknown damage that you want to avoid. High-quality CBD oil should be a little bit more expensive.
Bottles- Look at the bottle if it is held in. If the container is light, it is not pure, or may not even be CBD extract. You will want to purchase CBD that comes in a dark bottle to protect it from the sunlight. The sun will oxidize the product in a clear container and make it less effective.
Amount- If the bottle does not state the CBD amount or THC amount, do not buy it. Stay away from it and go for a brand that does state it. Any CBD brand should be very transparent.
If you are struggling with addiction and looking for something to help balance you out, CBD could be a good option. However, it is crucial to talk to your doctor about other possibilities or any adverse effects taking CBD might give you. There is no cure for addiction, and sobriety is a long road. Get outside support and do your best every single day.
Cadena, A. (2018, November 6). Study finds using CBD for addiction helps prevent relapses. Medium. https://medium.com/cbd-origin/study-finds-using-cbd-for-addiction-helps-prevent-relapses-d327513a859d
Dimitrova. (2019, August 22). Can CBD be used to treat drug addiction? News-Medical.net. https://www.news-medical.net/health/Can-CBD-be-Used-to-Treat-Drug-Addiction.aspx
Felton, K. (2019, February 14). Every question you have about CBD—Answered. Health.com. https://www.health.com/condition/pain/what-is-cbd
Richter. (2020, July 3). CBD to treat drug addiction: How it works [And how you can use it]. WayofLeaf. https://wayofleaf.com/cbd/ailments/cbd-to-treat-drug-addiction)
WebMD. (2018, February 9). Substance abuse: Know the signs. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/substance-abuse#1