CBD for Opioid Addictions [How it Really Works]

A natural remedy to the rescue
MarijuanaBreak Staff MarijuanaBreak Staff / Updated on June 21, 2019

Exploring how and why CBD for opioid addiction is gaining mainstream attention across the U.S. and Canada…

Opioid addiction has become a rising epidemic throughout the world, particularly gaining attention in the United States and Canada as a situation of national crisis. Opioid addiction typically develops later in life, but in some instances, it can even in newborns and young children (in these situations the “addiction” is primarily a cause of the mother using prescription drugs during pregnancy).

Opioids are generally classed into two categories: non-prescription and prescription. The addiction epidemic involves the use of both categories in large numbers, but recently it seems the trend is pointing towards a greater abuse of prescription medications.

DID YOU KNOW: More than 130 people die every day in the United States as a result of opioid overdose?

Prescription medications of course include those that were prescribed by a doctor, but in many instances, these drugs make their way into the wrong hands and end up getting mistreated. Common forms of these opiate-based drugs include:

  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl
  • Morphine
  • Oxycodone
  • Hydrocodone

Non-prescription opioids refer to drugs that are available on the illicit market – these are typically substances that contain synthetic derivatives of their “legal” counterparts; in other words, they are NOT prescribed by a physician, ever.

Illegal opiate-based drugs tend to be of poor quality, and are manufactured from questionable origins – which is part of what makes them so risky for the mind and body. Common forms of illicit opioids can differ, but in practical terms they really just refer to various forms of heroin.

At the end of the day, both prescription and non-prescription opioids can be obtained illegally and without a recommendation from a doctor – an unfortunate fact that has perpetuated the opioid epidemic for years.

In light of recent numbers and estimates regarding opioid dependency and abuse, researchers have begun searching for safer methods of treatment that may be able to assist those who are going through abuse or addiction, and need to get clean.

The world of CBD has become an especially intriguing possibility, as researchers have begun collecting data as to its ability to help steer addicts from dependency and onto a cleaner, healthier, more natural path.

Although further research certainly needs to be conducted over the coming years, there are publications that have already provided rather promising results.

In fact, one study in particular has suggested that CBD helps to block the opioid reward mechanism; in other words, when given to someone who is addicted to opioid medication, it appears that CBD may be able to help the patient become independent from the drug’s addictive properties – which could lead them down a path to full recovery.

In this article we discuss information regarding the use of CBD for opioid addiction, making sure to cover relevant studies that have been conducted and what their results mean for the future of opioid addiction treatment.

CBD Oil and Opioid Addiction: Understanding the Basics

Although many individuals exhibit glimpses of addictive traits that are tied to a variety of substances, a full-blown opioid addiction can sneak up upon you with few warning signs, as opioids are both physically and psychologically addictive to the body (this is unlike CBD, which as of yet has not shown to cause instances of physically dependence).

This is why overcoming an opioid addiction can be especially difficult – the detoxification and/or withdrawal processes often involve severe, unpleasant symptoms that can range from irritability and mood swings to sweating, fevers, and nausea. Other symptoms of opioid withdrawal include:

  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches and migraines

If the patient that is detoxifying their body from the drug can hang in there through several days (or more) of these painful symptoms, they often times are able to experience full relief and re-establish a complete, healthy lifestyle free from drug dependence.

| Thousands of individuals have successfully used cannabis products (including CBD) for opioid addiction.

If you or someone you know has developed a severe opioid addiction, be advised that there are numerous free resources throughout the U.S. and Canada that are available to help. These addictions are often times life-threatening, and making a simple phone call can realistically be the difference between a life saved, and a life lost.

Organizations like the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), for example, as well as doctor-guided Medication Assisted Treatments (MAT) are both practical options that can offer life-saving opportunities. Nearly 3 million individuals across the U.S. and Canada suffer from opioid use disorder – if you or a loved one is one of these individuals, take the necessary measures to get help now.

CBD for Opioid Addiction: Why Isn’t it a Commonly-Used Treatment?

One of the obvious reasons why prescription opioid addiction is on the rise is because of how easy it is to ontain both legal and illegal drugs. The numbers are rather staggering, with roughly 58 opioid-based prescriptions written for every 100 Americans in 2017 alone.

With numbers like these, it is only likely (from a simple biological perspective) that a percentage of patients will develop severe, life-threatening addictions. Even those who begin by taking their medications responsibly are still at risk of developing a physical dependence on the drugs.

Furthermore, with a world so heavily centered around treating pain with the use of prescription painkillers, much of America’s youth are exposed to the idea that opioids are a simple (if not common) mechanism used to provide effective relief. As these kids grow older, they understandably feel that it is not a big deal to rely on opioid-based drugs – particularly ones that have been prescribed by a doctor.

| With this in mind, it makes sense that prescription opioids are commonly received while cannabis maintains an age-old stigma.

And of course, in many instances people experience painful or serious injuries and are placed on long-term prescription painkillers in order to manage their discomfort, only to eventually realize that they cannot go through life without their drugs. It is at this point that patients develop a dependency, which often manifests itself long after the actual injury has healed.

On a more physiological level, the reason why someone becomes addicted to opioids is an especially complex matter, and varies greatly from person to person (as well as the circumstances they undergo throughout life). This is why it is challenging to pinpoint one specific cause of addiction.

Non-CBD Opioid Addiction Treatments

Three forms of conventional treatments are typically utilized for those addicted to opioids: Outpatient Treatment, Inpatient Rehabilitation Therapy, and Detox.

Detox programs are often a common starting place, and usually involve close inpatient monitoring while the individual rids their body of opioids. Often times during this process the patient is prescribed a maintenance medication (such as methadone or buprenorphine), which makes the detox process a bit more bearable.

After detox is completed, the patient typically is sent to an Inpatient Rehabilitation Center where they receive physical treatment and regular contact with a psychologist or psychotherapist. This part of the process helps the patient to develop healthy coping skills and identify unique triggers, while also enabling them to reconnect with friends, family, and loved ones.

Lastly, Outpatient Treatment (OT) can involve residency in a halfway house or sober living facility, depending upon how serious the opioid addiction was. OT includes regular attendance support groups like Narcotics Anonymous, which offers personal motivation and stability after a patient has left the watchful eyes of their doctors or therapists.

Living With Opioid Addiction

More often than not, life with opioid addiction is a slow, painful path to destruction. In many instances, the individual might not even notice the situation they are in due to the state of numbing and euphoria that has been provided by the drugs.

The short-term effects of opioid addiction (including the withdrawal symptoms listed above) are often the only symptoms that are focused upon, but in reality the real issue lies within longer-term effects.

For example, long-term opioid addiction can lead to a weakened immune system, respiratory depression, a multitude of intravenous administration-related problems (blood borne illnesses, embolic events, systemic infections, etc) and a plethora of gastric problems including constipation, bowel perforation, and intestinal ileus.

Most of all however, the frequent use of opioids takes you away from the people you love and care about the most; the people who bring you happiness and make your life worth living. You stop being able to be there for them when they need you most, and begin withdrawing and isolating yourself from the life you lived before the opioid addiction.

Although the physical symptoms of opioid abuse are awful, the emotional and social changes are probably the saddest part, leading to a life in which you are not only a complete stranger to who you were before, but also a life wherein you have lost so many of those you once loved and who meant the world to you.

CBD for Opioid Addiction: A Natural Remedy for Success?

The results of recent studies on cannabis products (including CBD) for opioid addiction have proven to be rather promising, even if further research needs to be conducted in order to provide greater clinical evidence.

For example the August  2017 issue of Planta Medica published a research study conducted by the University of Mississippi, wherein mice were administered doses of CBD oil at just 10 mg per kg of body weight. Upon administration, the “opiate reward” mechanism was suddenly blocked, making their physical desire for the drug lessened or non-existent. (In other words, the body no longer craved the addictive substance on a physiological level).

Another study – published in 2015 in the academic journal Substance Abuse – claimed that “…a limited number of preclinical studies suggests that CBD may have therapeutic properties on opioid, cocaine, and psychostimulant addiction. [Moreover], preliminary data suggests that [CBD] may be beneficial in cannabis and tobacco addiction in humans. Further studies are clearly necessary to fully evaluate the potential of CBD as an intervention for addictive disorders…”

Lastly, a 2013 study published in Addictive Behaviors found that CBD reduced cigarette consumption for tobacco addicts, with a possibility that it could cause the same effects on opioid addicts due to its ability to inhibit the brain’s reward center.

It appears that CBD acts as a ‘stimulator’ of sorts, influencing the reward center so that the opioids – or in this case the tobacco – have little to no physical pleasure on the body (at least in regard to quenching the thirst that comes along with the addiction).

Why CBD for Opiate Addiction?

For those who are not familiar with CBD, it is generally regarded as the second most prevalent cannabinoid within the cannabis plant – just after the famous THC.

Unlike THC however, CBD will produce zero psychoactive effects on the mind or body, meaning it cannot actually get you high (as is typical with THC and most smokable marijuana strains). In fact, THC is what produces the stereotypical “mind-altering” effects from marijuana; without it, patients have the potential to experience the therapeutic benefits of cannabis, without having to undergo any of the intoxicating effects.

Naturally, this is why CBD has begun making such waves throughout the cannabis community; people are noticing how much it can help, and are blown away that they are able to keep their mind in a state of limited alteration. In other words, they are experiencing the medical potential of cannabis without having to change the way they go through life on a day-to-day basis.

The Bottom Line on CBD for Opioid Addiction

In spite of all the rising evidence that supports the use of CBD for opioid addiction, it is no secret that we are in need of more reliable clinical data — at least if we want to begin using the compound on a nationwide level.

Even considering the fact that more research needs to be conducted, however, sufficient evidence already exists in academic journals that shows how the answer could be right in front of our eyes. Is CBD for addiction really the safe, all-natural solution that doctors have been looking for for decades? It certainly seems to be that way.

Of course, if you are planning on utilizing a CBD product for your treatment process, it’s vital to be careful when choosing your options. The only medical condition the compound is FDA-approved to treat is intractable epilepsy – in other words, if you’re planning on trying to use CBD oil for addiction, you should do so at your own risk and under your own discretion.

Below, you’ll find listed a few things to watch out for when buying CBD oil for opioid addiction. For further information, be sure to check out our article: Watch Out For These 5 Traps When Going to Buy CBD Oil

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