\CBD and Cannabis For Addiction Treatment

Cbd and Cannabis For Addiction Treatment

Cbd and Cannabis For Addiction Treatment has been a topic of increasing interest for a long time. Addiction is a brain disorder that causes the person affected to seek out pleasurable short-term stimuli which have negative consequences in the long-term – substance abuse and compulsive behavior are two well-known forms of addiction. High-quality treatments for addiction have been few and far between, and some are turning to cannabis, and specifically cannabidiol (CBD), the plant’s primary non-psychoactive constituent for help.

addiction and cannabis

There is plenty of optimism in Canada – a country which has historically been at the forefront of researching experimental drugs for addiction – that cannabis could help. In 2018, Canada also legalized recreational cannabis. A survey of 271 Canadian patients showed that one-third were able to stop taking addictive prescription painkillers by using cannabis. A further 12 percent credited cannabis for helping them to stop smoking cigarettes.

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This followed a 2015 review which determined CBD to be helpful for patients with addictions to opioids, cocaine and tobacco. Not only did the treatment work, but the side effects from withdrawal were limited. If nothing else, cannabis is certainly a safer substance to be addicted to than opioids like heroin and fentanyl or methamphetamines, which have a high risk of overdose.

How Fast Does CBD Oil Work
How Fast Does CBD Oil Work

Other countries are also carrying out surveys and clinical research to assess the medicinal value of cannabis, and the potential of individual cannabinoids such as CBD. The jury is still out on whether cannabis is an effective addiction treatment, but it appears that sensible and controlled use of the drug may help. Preliminary research also indicates that CBD may interfere with pleasure-reward mechanisms which cause addiction by modulating opioid receptors.

Which Type of Cannabis is Best for Treating Addiction?

CBD appears to have some potent anti-addiction properties, but in some situations, a whole-plant extract that includes tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) increases the therapeutic potential of CBD, as part of a synergistic reaction known as the “entourage effect.” But the downside of a THC-containing treatment is that it causes a psychoactive high, which could cause mental dependence, and perhaps trigger mental illnesses in patients predisposed to them. Full-spectrum CBD products which contain up to 0.3 percent THC and all of the other cannabinoids and terpenes in cannabis may be preferable. CBD vape oil and e-liquid may be very effective at managing addictive cravings, since it takes just a couple of minutes for the cannabinoid’s benefits to kick in.

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The possibility of psychological dependence from taking THC strikes as counter-productive for patients trying to manage an addiction. While strains with a one-to-one ratio of CBD to THC could work well, THC-rich strains which make up much of the recreational cannabis market are unlikely to be as beneficial due to the absence of CBD.

5 Pounds of Marijuana Found in Thrift Store Donations
(image via Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Interestingly, however, a study found that THC was effective at treating heroin addiction in monkeys. Given the proliferation of opioid addiction – to both prescription and illegal drugs – in the United States, any relatively safe substance that helps to wean patients off such hard drugs is worth considering. Furthermore, since there is no physical dependence risk with THC, getting someone off opioids and onto cannabis would not put their addiction problem back to square one.

Getting the Dosage Right

Cbd and Cannabis For Addiction Treatment is a subject that may be taboo among people who do not understand cannabis consumption. People on the outside looking in need to understand that the appropriate dosing is key. As biphasic compounds, there are stark differences in the impact of both CBD and THC depending on the dosage. This is maybe more obvious with THC, a cannabinoid which can relieve anxiety in small quantities, but often exacerbates it in larger amounts – the psychoactive effects are prone to amplifying the condition. CBD is subtler, yet it appears to be stimulating in low dosages, while more sedating in higher dosages.

A 2004 study on rodents with amphetamine and cocaine addictions showed that low doses (CBD: 5mg/kg; THC: 0.5mg/kg) were more efficient at tackling the learned behavior responsible for the addiction. CBD’s anti-addiction effects were sustained, helping the rodents to stay clean for up to a fortnight after treatment was stopped.

With Addiction, Communication is Key

There are several reasons why a person may suffer from addiction and finding the root cause can help with treatment. Sometimes addiction takes hold due to a traumatic event, or a combination of life stresses that become overwhelming – for many, drugs are the go-to option for escapism.

Communication and talking therapy with a counselor can be helpful for someone with an addiction, as it allows them to uncover the thought patterns which cause them to use. Raking up these most uncomfortable truths is generally not a pleasant experience, but there are indications that CBD may help by reducing learned fear.

Scientists are puzzled as to why CBD is an antidote for learned fear, but the answer may lie in the hippocampus, the region of the brain where memories are formed and stored. A study showed that patients treated with CBD were less fearful of a stressful episode, in this scenario an electric shock, than those not given the cannabinoid.

Moreover, research has consistently shown that CBD is a powerful anxiolytic, easing symptoms of anxiety by managing the balance between excitation and inhibition in the brain, and also by agonizing the 5-HT1A receptor, a common target for anxiety-busting drugs. Eliminating anguish, negative thoughts and the fear of speaking honestly about an addiction can help when devising techniques with a professional to break the habit.

Treating Addiction: the Holistic Approach

It is maybe impossible to fully treat an addiction without considering the other factors at play – substance abuse may be the result of physical or emotional problems. Those living in countries where alcohol is the most popular social lubricant will likely find it harder to manage an alcohol addiction, since the temptation to relapse is always there. CBD only helps so much – without willpower and the formation of good habits that reduce susceptibility to relapse impulses, it’s easy to slip back into old ways.

There are other factors which may contribute to making an addiction worse. For example, someone addicted opioid-based painkillers to deal with chronic pain should look at what causes it – inflammatory pain could be the result of a diet high in sugar. By changing the diet to lower inflammation, pain levels should decrease, reducing the body’s demand for painkillers.

Cold Turkey or Harm Reduction? How to Best Manage Addiction

There is a stark divide among addiction experts on the most effective approach to treating dependency and addiction. Some take a hard-line “cold turkey” stance, arguing that totally cutting out the addictive drug by eliminating triggers is the only way to successfully break a habit. The rest are in favor of “harm reduction,” which advocates slowly weaning the addict off a drug, or by switching them to an alternative substance.

weed and addiction

Cold turkey may work for strong-willed patients with a good support network, but failure when going down this route can be demoralizing, as it psychologically strengthens the vice of the addiction. With harm reduction, there is an appreciation for the fact that quitting is difficult, and that the occasional setback doesn’t undo all the good work in trying to quit. For example, a drug addict who cuts down their relapses from 20 per month to 10 are on the right track. This progress is recognized from a harm reduction angle, whereas the cold turkey perspective would be focussed on the 10 relapses.

addicts need cannabis

Cannabis and CBD fit nicely into the harm reduction method, as it’s a good middle-ground for patients on hard drugs. Those uncertain as to the long-term effects of THC should consider CBD, and perhaps a treatment like CBD capsules – the effects of these can last for up to eight hours. Furthermore, addiction patients can be confident of finding long-term relief through CBD, without the fear of a nasty revelation down the line – the World Health Organization recently declared the cannabinoid to be non-addictive. CBD also helps to regulate mood and inhibit the stress hormone cortisol; these marginal benefits can help make a person happier and more stable, and less vulnerable to relapse.

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addiction therapy

How Psychoactivity May Help Manage Addiction

Despite carrying risks and having a higher potential for abuse, sensible use of cannabis and its psychoactive effects may be useful in treating addiction. Psychoactive drugs have been a hidden but intriguing part of medicinal research for decades – studies on LSD for alcohol addiction in the mid-20th century, while the substance was still legal, were remarkable. So much so that Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) co-founder Bill W. spoke positively about LSD’s benefits.

While the psychoactive effects of THC are less potent, the mind-altering effects may help patients to form new brain patterns and view their addictions differently. For instance, many addicts only make the decision to stop when they can see the effect their actions are having on others – a psychoactive experience could facilitate this sort of enlightening event.


Using Cbd and Cannabis For Addiction Treatment could be a very natural addition to our methods in the field of addiction therapy. Cannabis is not a single substance, so the answer to whether it is an effective anti-addiction agent is complex. But the signs are good. The no-risk nature of CBD and the scientific studies which hint at its anti-addictive properties could be a game-changer. It remains to be seen if – and to what extent – THC also fits into this equation.

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