Cannabidiol, or CBD, has been the hot topic of the marijuana industry (and beyond) for quite some time now. The non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant has been used in recent years to treat a vast range of conditions, potentially helping to alleviate some of the symptoms associated with the likes of pain, anxiety, and depression – generally with fewer and less severe side effects than those associated with traditional medications.
Among the long list of conditions that CBD could help with is various forms of addiction (including drug, tobacco, alcohol, and prescription medication addiction), and there are promising studies that back this up.
In this article, we take a look at the facts around CBD oil for addiction, and whether it really might serve as a way to help those in recovery.
What is Addiction?
It may come as a surprise, but addiction affects 1 in every 3 people! In fact, according to the American Addiction Centers, a survey showed that as many as 21.5 million people aged 12 and older battled a substance use disorder in 2014.
But what is an addiction? Most of us think addiction only applies to drugs and alcohol; however, this is not the case. Addiction is in fact described as having no control over doing, taking or using something that could potentially harm you.
The reality is that addiction can form with almost anything, from the more obvious substance addictions to those that are less discussed such as behavioral addictions — like spending money!
While the causes of addiction can vary between mental and physical stimulation, the symptoms are always the same; if you are suffering from addiction, you will experience withdrawal if you are not able to access that which you are addicted to. This is, of course, an unpleasant experience, which often leads to continuation of the addiction.
Addictions can also be severe and life-threatening. Often, those suffering from addiction can result in being overly stressed or anxious, depressed, and have an inability to lead a healthy life. In truth, addictions affect not only the individual’s health, but also their livelihood and general well-being.
How Are Addictions Treated?
Treatments for addiction vary of course depending on the nature of the addiction, but often they include a complex range of medications and prescription drugs. As addiction usually affects so many aspects of an individual’s life, it is often the case that treatment will involve a mixture of drug therapies with psychological therapy, and this is typically done in a secure center to avoid temptations and relapse.
How Can CBD Oil Help With Addiction?
Through research, it has been found that CBD has some real potential as a treatment for addiction – in particular, for its ability to reduce anxiety and ‘cue-induced cravings,’ which are otherwise known as habitual cravings (things that the individual directly associates with their addiction).
A study in the journal Neurotherapeutics published in 2015, reviewed how CBD affected heroin addicts. During the study, the subjects were given CBD for three days in a row, and then tested for cravings seven days later. The results showed that those who had taken CBD felt their cravings to be lessened when compared to those who had the placebo.
This is not the only study of its kind; there have been a range of animal and human studies carried out which all reveal promising signs that CBD could help those suffering from addiction.
One animal study, for instance, completed in March 2018 and published in Neuropsychopharmacology, looked at the effects of CBD on rats that were addicted to either cocaine or alcohol. The subjects received CBD as a topical gel every day for seven days. They were then tested to see how they reacted in stressful situations, and the results were impressive.
Scientists found that, even when under stress, the rats on CBD were less likely to relapse, and it appeared that the CBD had also reduced their anxiety and impulsivity. Perhaps the most surprising outcome was that the subject rats still showed the same improvements five months after the treatment ended!
With the current opioid epidemic still raging across America, and with a shocking 116 Americans dying every day in 2016 as a result of an opioid-related drug overdose, we are finding more people looking to CBD as a potential way to combat the crisis. The evidence shows that the non-psychoactive, all-natural compound could make a great ‘exit drug’ to help people take the first steps to sobriety.
So what do these studies prove about CBD as a potential treatment for addiction? It is clear that there is still much work to be done here, but so far things are looking pretty promising.
All in all, it appears that CBD has some of the necessary therapeutic properties to benefit those who suffer from addictions. We have seen time and time again how CBD can help those suffering from anxiety, which is a substantial contributing factor to those suffering from addiction.
Not only this, but it appears that CBD may also be able to repair brain damage as a result of addiction. As CBD is a patented neuroprotectant and is used to help many inflammatory conditions, it stands to reason that it could also contribute to undoing some of the severe damage done by drug and alcohol addictions.
Overall, it is still a little early for this particular avenue for recovery, and there is still a lot of stigma to work through when it comes to CBD as a medicinal compound. However, it is difficult not to get excited when we look at the impressive studies that have been carried out so far, and we only suspect more of the same to come in the future!