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CBD for Addiction: Can the Remedy Help?
If you have been on pharmaceutical medications for a while, trying to get off them can be daunting. Many pharmaceuticals have painful or severe withdrawal symptoms, which makes moving on from them difficult. This article will explain whether CBD can ease those unwanted side effects. But before diving into that topic, it’s important to know the basics of CBD.
Is CBD addictive?
CBD does not have intoxicating effects on the body. According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), research indicates that CBD does not have the potential to be abused.
A 2016 study also showed that THC, the cannabinoid responsible for creating a “high,” produced physical and psychological effects, such as euphoria and increased heart rate. In contrast, CBD did not affect heart rate, cognitive function, or blood pressure.
So, since CBD does not produce any psychoactive or significant side effects, how does it actually work in the body?
How does CBD work in the body?
Human beings have an endocannabinoid system, and this is what CBD interacts with once ingested. The endocannabinoid system has many vital functions in the body. It helps regulate appetite and mood and influences memory. Additionally, it impacts inflammation.
Because CBD interacts with the cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system, it provides various benefits. And those therapeutic effects are why so many people love CBD.
What are the benefits of CBD?
While more research is needed, early studies have shown that CBD might have various benefits for the body.
1. CBD might reduce epileptic seizures
In a 2018 clinical trial involving 72 children and 60 adults with epilepsy, researchers found that over 60% of participants experienced a reduction in the frequency of seizures. What’s more, the participants all had treatment-resistant epilepsy. That same year, the FDA approved Epidiolex, a CBD anti-seizure treatment. It is specifically used for rare forms of epilepsy, like Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastuaut syndrome.
2. CBD might help with anxiety
There is plenty of anecdotal evidence about CBD’s usefulness for anxiety. In 2019, a study of 72 adults with sleep problems and anxiety showed that CBD helped almost 80% of participants reduce anxiety symptoms, and over 65% of participants had experienced improved sleep quality. A 2017 study of 60 adults also showed that a specific dose of CBD lowered social anxiety scores before, during, and after public speaking.
3. CBD might relieve chronic pain
In 2020, a study of mice showed that full-spectrum CBD reduced neuropathic pain. A study of 400 people in New Zealand with chronic pain also indicated that CBD reduced pain. Additionally, participants in the latter study did not experience side effects.
Why is it so hard to overcome an addiction to medication?
Researchers and consumers are wondering if CBD can help alleviate the side effects of overcoming an addiction. It’s commonly known that stopping an addiction is extremely challenging.
Sometimes, the symptoms of detoxing from medication are worse than the symptoms that the medication was prescribed to help. This scenario is especially true for pain medications, which can cause hyperalgesia for people coming off of it. Hyperalgesia causes a heightened pain perception, making people hypersensitive. Even a small cut can cause unbearable discomfort.
In addition, withdrawals can cause headaches, nausea, drowsiness, cold sweats, shakes, depression, and bipolar-like behavior. Sometimes, these severe symptoms can last up to 10 days, and this long period of suffering can make people go back onto the medication.
For Kat Merryfield, the founder of Kat’s Naturals, overcoming addiction hits close to home. She watched her father go cold turkey, and it was a horrible experience. He had cold sweats, diarrhea, vomiting, and headaches. His detox symptoms were similar to those of a heroin detox, and this is because opioids and heroin have the same origin: the opium poppy.
In many instances, people who are addicted to opioids eventually start using heroin. This decision happens because doctors typically cut their patients off of opioids after a period of time. But for some patients, the detox is too challenging to handle, and heroin provides much-needed relief while also being easier to obtain.
This situation sounds quite scary, especially since opioids are still prescribed frequently. But there are some ways to help manage an addiction to medication, and CBD may be one of the solutions.
Can CBD help relieve addictions?
For a randomized study of 42 heroin users, researchers gave participants either two doses of Epidiolex or a placebo once daily for three days. Epidiolex, as mentioned earlier, is an FDA-approved CBD medication. The participants were then exposed to drug-related neural cues to determine whether CBD could help reduce opioid cravings.
The study found that participants who received the CBD medication experienced fewer cravings after being exposed to drug cues compared to those who took the placebo. Those who took Epidiolex also reported less anxiety after being exposed to the drug cues.
How to use CBD to help overcome addiction to medication
The founder of Kat’s Naturals has also discovered that CBD may help people overcome addictions. Kat used the natural remedy to wean her father off hydrocodone since going cold turkey did not work for him.
She started the journey by replacing one of his four daily doses of hydrocodone with CBD. After about a week, she replaced another dose with CBD. Then, she replaced his morning dose of medication with CBD and Tylenol.
By this point, Kat’s father was just taking one dose of hydrocodone a day. The last step simply required skipping the Tylenol in the morning and replacing his evening dose of hydrocodone with the Tylenol instead. This step was a success, and her father took Tylenol every night, thinking it was hydrocodone.
Additionally, Kat helped a woman wean herself off gabapentin, which is a medication for nerve pain. Unfortunately, CBD does not work when taking gabapentin because gabapentin blocks the receptor needed for CBD uptake.
However, Kat suggested that the woman start using CBD, even if it wouldn’t necessarily be doing anything, while she weaned herself off the gabapentin. This suggestion was to help ensure CBD would be in her body once she was finally weaned off, and the woman later said that the transition was beautiful.
CBD might be a helpful remedy for medication addiction
Much more research is required on CBD’s ability to help alleviate addictions. Clinical studies are especially necessary today since the opioid epidemic is claiming thousands of lives. Hopefully, as researchers continue to dive into CBD, hopefully it’ll prove to be an excellent remedy for relieving the symptoms people experience when transitioning away from medications.