Addiction is a difficult and tender subject to broach; nearly 2% of the global population is addicted to either alcohol or an illicit drug. While that number might not seem like a lot, it means that 1 person out of 50 people struggles with addiction to drinking in excess or various illegal ways of getting high. Consider other addictions like sex or porn additions, obsessions with fitness or eating disorders, and that number jumps even higher. Addiction is defined as a neuropsychological disorder that is nearly impossible to resist and often requires partaking in a behavior or activity that could potentially cause unfavorable and/or harmful outcomes. The word “addiction” most often refers to drug and alcohol abuse, effectively enslaving the user to the constant cravings.
Is it possible to be addicted to good things, such as going to the gym or being successful in a career? Sure. But the majority of the time addiction is mentioned, it’s in a negative light. The human brain gravitates towards pleasure, regardless if the pleasure is short-lived or detrimental in the long run. You may be familiar with the slang word for a certain illicit drug called “dope” and the pleasure hormone is called dopamine…see the relation? Once the brain has fixated on that pleasure route, it can feel almost impossible to rewire your brain to seek out other ways of pleasure. More than 35 million people admit to struggling with substance abuse and many feel powerless to overcome their battle with addiction. Yet many users have found solace in support groups, medication, and therapy. Research is ongoing to study whether or not cannabis (specifically CBD) is effective in helping those wrestling with substance abuse and addiction. In this article, we’ll be discussing what CBD is, how it can help in common withdrawal symptoms, and whether or not it can be used as a substitute for addiction cravings.
CBD: What Is It?
Cannabidiol, short for CBD, is one of over a hundred known naturally occurring cannabinoids in the hemp plant plant. In accordance with the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD must be derived from federally legal hemp and must contain 0.3% THC. CBD does not have any intoxicating effects (read: you won’t get high), but can offer many of the same benefits as traditional marijuana. In fact, CBD has proven effective in the treatment of epilepsy and is still being studied as a way to naturally increase energy levels, improve sleep quality, encourage appetite, and much more.
CBD forms a strong bond with your endocannabinoid’s CB1 and CB2 receptors. While CBD consumption won’t get you high, it can offer a homeopathic way of restoring balance and order to your body. This restoration of your overall health and wellness isn’t instantaneous; it takes some time for the results to be noticeable. It may take a few days or a few weeks, depending on your age, metabolism, weight, tolerance/exposure to THC, and other personal factors.
CBD is generally available in three unique categories: full spectrum, broad spectrum, and isolate. As the name suggests, “full” spectrum uses the full plant: the leaves and stems contain powerful terpenes, flavonoids, and other minor cannabinoids. Many users strongly advocate full spectrum CBD for its alleged entourage effect. The entourage effect isn't recognized by science or research, but is a widely accepted belief that you’ll harvest more benefits by consuming the entire plant (leaves and stems) in either edibles or inhalables. Broad spectrum is slightly different in that nearly all of the THC, terpenes, flavonoids, and other minor cannabinoids have been carefully filtered out to offer a more centralized form of CBD. CBD isolate is the purest form of cannabidiol available and contains 100% CBD, nothing else.
All three types of CBD are readily available in product types like edibles (gummies and softgels), sublinguals (tinctures and oils), and inhalables (vape carts, pre-rolls, vape juice, and disposable devices). There’s no perfect product type, but some offer better bioavailability than others. Bioavailability refers to how much of the CBD can be absorbed into your bloodstream; inhalables bypass the digestion system entirely, offering the highest level of cannabidiol absorption. Edibles must be digested but tend to be more popular due to ease of use. Regardless of which one you choose, be sure to look for a Certificate of Analysis (CoA) that certifies the unbiased testing and confirmation of purity and potency.
Using CBD To Aid In Addiction Recovery
Those struggling with addiction may experience a daunting array of symptoms that can make them feel helpless and increasingly frustrated. As the brain becomes more accustomed to a behavior or substance, the amount necessary to achieve the same results must be increased. The desire to continue experiencing that pleasure may cause the user to withdraw from their normal interactions with friends and family to feed their habit. Even if there are risks associated with the addiction, the user forsakes all reason and common sense in order to continue chasing that pleasure-riddled high. Any attempt at cessation or lessening of the drug or behavior can lead to withdrawal, resulting in increased irritability, extreme mood swings, abrupt behavior changes, and others. While CBD may not be able to eliminate all the symptoms associated with addiction, there are several ways where it can make the journey more bearable. There are many signals the brain sends and receives that may seem insurmountable, but here’s how CBD can help. Let’s begin!
The Mental Clawing For Cravings
Addiction’s most difficult symptom is the clawing hunger for the thing the brain is craving. The brain is wired to seek pleasure, regardless if that is derived from something as basic as sugary foods or soft drinks or as advanced as pharmaceuticals and adult beverages. Addictions tend to stem from negative emotions that drive a person to the addiction, such as mental anguish, stress coping mechanism, prolonged physical suffering, and general helplessness. To put this in perspective, challenge yourself to cut out sugar or caffeine for 48 hours; your patience will erode much more quickly, your ability to focus will plummet, and your temperament will vary wildly. Most of us will cave into such a simple craving and justify it by saying a little bit won’t hurt. Yet for those looking to cut out pharmaceuticals (especially opioids), the cravings are magnified tenfold due to the strength of perceived pleasure that it brings to the brain (regardless of the damage it does to everything else). Opioids are commonly prescribed for those suffering from high levels of physical discomfort (e.g., intense surgery, invasive operations). Opioids are intended to aid the user during the recovery process, but often leads to the body requiring increased dosages to experience the same level of relief. Even once the healing process has completed, the brain demands that pleasure and can often result in full-blown addiction.
CBD has been praised for its ability to alleviate both mental and physical discomfort as well as balancing mood swings. A concentrated study focused on opioid abusers and administered high doses of CBD. The results showed that the cravings were substantially lessened for a full week. However, another study focusing on cocaine abusers did not have the same results. CBD may prove helpful in those battling addiction with opioids, but not for every narcotic and pharmaceutical addition.
The Battle of Withdrawal
As the body builds up a tolerance to the initial amount of certain substances, a stronger dose will be required to achieve the initial effects. Deciding to abstain is one thing; what happens after that the user follows through with that decision is another entirely. The serious yet temporary mental and physical strains that occur in this withdrawal period can include nausea, cold sweats, body aches, negative temperament, reduced appetite, and increased mental suffering. Many struggling with cessation find themselves unable to withstand the symptoms, ultimately resulting in a relapse. This can happen even if the user is fully aware that the substance is detrimental to their physical/mental wellbeing and is doing their best to resist. The mind is a powerful thing and even those with strong wills may fall victim to temptation.
CBD is by no means a cure-all for any and all withdrawal symptoms. However, consistent use of CBD may help relieve some of the unpleasant effects that occur during the withdrawal phase. Cannabidiol can help alleviate nausea, mental anguish, physical discomfort, and emotional duress. Additionally, it can also help stimulate appetite, encourage mental relaxation, and regulate mood variances.
Can CBD Be Substituted For Addictive Substances?
It’s often encouraged to replace the thing that causes addiction with something else; think of it as plugging a tire with a nail in it. But can CBD be used as an effective substitute? Well, that depends on what the addictive substance is. There are milder addictions like nicotine, adult beverages, and sugar as opposed to stronger addictions like methamphetamine, opioids, and cocaine. The latter will require a more specific treatment plan, depending on the level of addiction. This may include a strong support system, prolonged therapy sessions, and heightened self-awareness. While CBD may help with some symptoms, it should be viewed as a stepping stone rather than a viable substitute. One particular study revealed that cannabis was effective in the adherence of a set recovery plan. Hopefully more research will become available as we learn all that cannabidiol and the hemp plant have to offer when it comes to viewing it as a viable addiction recovery option.
The road to recovery from addiction is not an easy one; many people start their journey with the best intentions but may not be initially successful. Failure to admit addiction exists, stubborn resistance to any form of intervention, and the readily accessibility of the addictive substance are all pitfalls along the way of addiction recovery. CBD can help alleviate some symptoms of withdrawal such as nausea and vomiting, may help relax the mind to help bring about more restful sleep, has proven successful in reducing opioid cravings, works to quell uneasiness, and may even help to stabilize mood swings. If you or someone you know is wrestling with addiction, call the SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). Their resources and support system can help make the journey to successful addiction recovery may prove to be invaluable in the road to getting clean.
Here at ERTH Wellness, we’re passionate about all things related to CBD. Our collection of gummies, softgels, tinctures, pre-rolls, and CBD vape juice have been crafted in various strengths to meet your specific needs. Each of our products have been subjected to purity and potency testing by third-party independent labs. The results of these tests are available via an embedded link in each product description and also by scanning the QR code stamped on the product’s packaging. Should you have any questions regarding anything in this article or about hemp in general, feel free to reach out to us! CBD should never be viewed as a magical problem eliminator or some secret cure for what ails you. CBD can work naturally with your endocannabinoid system to restore balance where you may be lacking. Despite not getting you high nor being a suitable replacement for certain addictions, there are many incredible benefits that CBD has to offer. In our next article, we’ll be talking about whether or not you can be allergic to cannabidiol and other hemp-derived compounds. We look forward to seeing you there!