Addiction is a brain disorder that can have obvious or subtle effects. But either way, they ultimately prove to have an utterly devastating effect on the quality of life. Finding working treatments for addiction has been a testing challenge for experts due to the brain’s complexity. New drugs are being explored. These include psychedelics such as psilocybin (the main ingredient in magic mushrooms) and non-intoxicating cannabidiol (CBD) from the hemp plant.
Research for addiction arguably hit its highest heights in the 1950s and 60s, when scientists in America and Canada were studying substances that have ultimately become banned. Cannabis is one such prohibited drug. While the ban was installed in the 1930s, the later Controlled Substances Act has made cannabinoid research more difficult ever since.
But the revival of medical cannabis has set the stage for a new scientific era. Experts are increasingly optimistic about the value of CBD and the cannabis plant for opioid addiction and more. Even better, it appears that CBD distillate oil produces few side effects while working to reduce cravings.
This post will concentrate on the following areas:
CBD: a treatment for heroin and prescription opioidaddiction?
Addictions don’t just affect physical health – they have a scarring mental effect too. Not being able to break an addictive habit can cause severe psychological torment. Many opioidusers are finding themselves in this conundrum, and not all of them through their own doing. While heroin is a huge problem, prescription opioids have made drug addicts out of those who never imagined them. These drugs are also extraordinarily dangerous due to the extreme overdose risk. In all, overdoses from prescription drugs have accounted for almost 200,000 American lives in the past 20 years.
In 2019, the peer-reviewed American Journal of Psychiatry featured a study on CBD’s anti-addictive effects for heroin, and therefore prescription opioids, too. The experiment involved assessing the short and long-term benefits of the best CBD pre-rolls for opiate addiction. Cravings for heroin diminished, as did anxiety about getting a fix. Furthermore, the research found no serious side effects of CBD treatment on mental health.
Yasmin Hurd, the lead researcher of the study, has lots of experience in researching addiction treatments. Previous experiments on CBD’s benefits for heroin in animal models produced good results. Hence the desire for a similar study on humans. She said that the effects of CBD on “cue-induced drug craving and anxiety are particularly important.” Hurd noted how environmental cues are prone to triggering relapse and continued drug use.
The next step is for a more extensive study on CBD oil for addiction, to determine how the cannabinoid produces its effects. Neuroimaging studies should make it clearer which neuronal circuits CBD operates on to decrease anxiety and cravings. Then it will be vital to find out the “right dosing and dosing regimen.”
Other promising research
In 2015, a review found hemp CBD cigarettes beneficial for those with opioid, tobacco, and cocaine addictions. Moreover, the treatment was successful without causing severe side effects or intense withdrawal symptoms. Even if psychoactive cannabis was being used to manage addiction, it is surely better for users to be on that than drugs with high overdose risk.
Several countries are studying the medical potential of CBD and marijuana in general. Clinical trials are still fairly sparse, but surveys and small studies are starting to come thick and fast. A 2009 study in the Journal of Neuroscience found that CBD may reduce addictive tendencies by affecting pleasure-reward mechanisms in the brain. Regulating opioid receptors appeared to be essential to this response.
Which is best: CBD for Addiction or Cannabis?
CBD certainly has intriguing anti-addiction potential. But could a full-plant cannabis extract that features delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) be even more effective? The whole plant offers extra benefits to the endocannabinoid system (ECS), courtesy of the ‘entourage effect,’ a synergistic reaction between cannabinoids. However, products with THC come with some risks due to the psychoactive properties. Really strong pot may even be addictive, hence why some tout CBD for weed addiction.
Full-spectrum CBD products are the middle ground. These are made with CBD-rich hemp but can incorporate all of the plant’s compounds, such as other cannabinoids and therapeutic terpenes. Hemp naturally generates hardly any THC, and hemp products with less than 0.3 percent THC are federally legal. Fast-acting CBD products are perhaps best for managing addiction anxiety and cravings. Tincture oils, smoked hemp flower, and vape juices deliver the effects just a few minutes after consumption.
Considering the risk of mental dependence due to THC’s psychoactive effect, anybody using cannabis for addiction must be careful. Strains with high THC levels, which are typically taken for recreational purposes, are not likely to help. One-to-one strains where there is a roughly even balance of CBD to THC may work better.
That said, a small study did find that THC helped to wean heroin-addicted monkeys from the drug. Any treatment that could help with opiate addiction should be explored extensively, given America’s current crisis. And since the risk of addiction with THC is merely mental and not physical, it would still mark progress to get a patient off opioids and onto cannabis.