Can CBD help with addiction?

CBD can help individuals get off of highly addictive substances and in turn could save thousands of lives.

*Trigger Warning: Talk about Heroin use, IV drug use, addiction, opioid crisis*

If you are unfamiliar with the differences between THC and CBD then before reading this article I would go take a look at my previous article “Hemp Hope,” found on the Tacoma Ledger website. Not only does it help to break down the stigma surrounding cannabis, but it also sheds light on the different ways the plant can and has been used, thus acting as a good introduction for this piece.

CBD can have major benefits for people who are living with chronic pain from injury or as an underlying symptom of medical conditions such as cancer, arthritis, fibromyalgia or migraines. It can also be used to manage medical conditions, such as seizures.

Not only does CBD help with physical pain, but there have been studies suggesting that CBD could help those struggling with substance use disorder to potentially overcome their addiction. Currently the emphasis is on the opioid epidemic. 

The CDC website states that “From 1999–2019, nearly 500,000 people died from an overdose involving any opioid, including prescription and illicit opioids,” which shows that this has been an issue for years. On the Hopkins Medicine website they state “The most commonly used opioids are: prescription opioids, such as OxyContin and Vicodin, fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50–100 times more potent than morphine, heroin, an illegal drug.”

So, how is it that cannabis can help an individual get off of a highly addictive drug? The answer to this lies in the distinction between CBD and THC. CBD doesn’t possess the psychoactive effects that THC does, rather it helps the body feel relaxed, which is why it helps with chronic pain —? part of the reason why individuals keep taking opioids is because of their chronic pain. 

The WebMD article by Robert Preidt titled “Could CBD Treat Opioid Addiction?” goes into detail about a study that was conducted with known heroin users. The study included 42 men and women who were divided, unbeknownst to them, into a placebo group or one that received an oral CBD solution. Following the administration of the pills, each person was subject to videos containing neutral or drug-related cues. 

By the end of the study they found that “compared to a placebo, CBD reduced drug cue-induced craving and anxiety in the participants.” Meaning that the CBD helped them better manage their response to the cues because it helped them stay calm and keep their anxiety at a low. 

Yasmin Hurd, the director at the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai in New York City, spoke to the promise of CBD in treating individuals with substance use disorders given the findings from the study. 

“Successful non-opioid medication would add significantly to the existing addiction medication toolbox to help reduce the growing death toll, enormous health care costs, and treatment limitations imposed by stringent government regulations amid this persistent opioid epidemic,” Hurd said.

“The United States is struggling with an opioid epidemic that’s claimed more than 300,000 lives since it began,” stated the WebMD article. This is a giant loss of human life due to an addiction to something that, at first, was something meant to help prevent pain.

Due to the tolerance that is built up over time and opioids’ highly addictive nature, once a prescription runs out people may have no choice but to turn to other substances in an effort to avoid withdrawal. This is, in large part, due to the overprescription of these drugs and the lack of treatment options for addiction.

CBD could not only potentially help people seeking to stop drug use and abuse, but it could also help potentially avoid the issue altogether. Giving people an alternative to opioids could drastically reduce the number of people exposed to them in the first place, potentially reducing addiction rates by a significant number.

By ensuring that people have access to other treatments such as CBD, and the information to make the best decision for themselves we can begin to give people the power over their own lives and their own bodies in turn takes the power away from big pharma whose concern lies in not helping people, but rather how much they can profit off of them. 

By taking power and funding away from the major opioid producers we can now invest in real solutions that focus on people and their wellbeing. We can start looking towards other options, such as cannabis. Thus giving growers an opportunity to produce more of the cannabis products that can help individuals manage their pain and break free of addiction.