Managing Addiction With Medical Cannabis And CBD

The world is yet to find an answer to addiction, a brain disorder that manifests with both mental and physical symptoms. Researchers have struggled in their efforts to develop a pharmaceutical drug to treat addiction, and some alcohol and opioid addicts, among others, are turning to cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive type of cannabis in a bid to finally kick their debilitating habits.

A study featured in the International Journal of Drug Policy in 2016 focussed on the use of medical cannabis in Canada, a country that has recently voted to legalize recreational cannabis use. Out of a survey of more than 270 patients, one-third found that medical cannabis allowed them to quit pharmaceutical painkillers. Around 60 percent of participants favored medical cannabis to prescription painkillers. Twenty-five percent said that cannabis was preferable to alcohol, and 12 percent attributed cannabis to breaking their tobacco addictions.

A number of surveys and scientific investigations are being carried out all over the world to study how patients are using medical cannabis. The research shows that cannabis use is similar in different states and countries, although the success of the herb as an addiction treatment appears to depend on sensible and effective use.

Whole-Plant Entourage Effect Could Boost Benefits Of CBD

The anti-addiction properties of CBD as an individual treatment are promising, although it’s possible that a whole-plant extract incorporating a measured amount of THC helps to enhance the therapeutic value of both cannabinoids. However, not all patients will be comfortable taking a product that will give them a psychoactive high – full-spectrum CBD products infused with non-psychoactive cannabinoids and terpenes are a good alternative.

There are some cases of people becoming addicted to high-THC cannabis, with the mental reward association of the euphoria likely behind this. For that reason, many cannabis-friendly doctors specializing in addiction opt for a non-psychoactive treatment. A 2015 review showed that CBD could help with addictions to tobacco, cocaine and opioids, while keeping patients calm and relaxed throughout. This backed up earlier research that showed cannabis, even strains rich in psychoactive THC, are safer than hard drugs like heroine, cocaine and methamphetamine.

Research on monkeys has shown that THC can help to manage heroin addictions. This indication that cannabis-based treatments can be used to treat opioid addictions could be huge for the United States, which is experiencing an opioid crisis, and also African nations like Egypt and Nigeria that have a well-documented problem with recreational opioid abuse.

THC is not a physically addictive substance, and therefore using it to wean addicts from harder drugs cannot be viewed as swapping one addiction for a new one. For patients addicted to opioid killers, cannabis could help to gradually cut back the dose, with a view of getting consumption under control or to stop taking them altogether. Patients who have reservations about taking THC to manage an addiction in fear of becoming mentally dependent would be better served by a CBD e-liquid or tincture oil product.

The Value Of Talking

There is usually something behind addiction, such as a series of stressful episodes or one overwhelming traumatic incident. It can be helpful to break down stress and trauma, along with the thought patterns associated with it through a counselling program with a qualified professional. Working out why our body responds in a certain way and understanding the root of our addiction can go a long way to breaking out of the damaging cycle. CBD can help to make this entire process easier.

Research has shown that CBD helps to eliminate learned fear, although researchers are unsure why this happens. However, we do know that CBD and other cannabinoids interact with the hippocampus, the memory-forming part of the brain. In the learned fear experiment, participants were given a dose of CBD after being subjected to an electric shock (a type of stressful event), which helped to reduce their fear of it.

Multiple studies have demonstrated CBD’s potent anti-anxiety qualities and coupled with the anti-psychotic traits of the cannabinoid, there’s a treatment that could potentially have several beneficial effects for mental health. Counsellors and therapists are beginning to use CBD in their work more often to help relax patients during sessions, so that they can open up and get more out of them.

Low-Dosing Is The Way To Go

Studies into the effects of CBD and THC have determined that both cannabinoids are biphasic. This is shown clearly with THC, which can help to reduce anxiety in small doses but make matters worse in large quantities, as the intense mind-altering effects magnify negative emotions. A research paper on animals in 2004 found that low doses of CBD and THC was more effective in treating cocaine and amphetamine addictions in rodents than higher dosages. Addictions can be hard to break free from because of the brain conditioning that occurs over weeks, months and even years of taking a substance – interestingly, both CBD and THC are able to combat this conditioning.

A CBD dose of 5mg/kg and a THC dose of 0.5mg/kg enabled the test rodents to disassociate from the learned behavior that was causing their drug addictions. And even better, the anti-addiction effects of CBD for heroin remained active in the rodents up to two weeks after the last dose was given.

Incorporating Holistic Teachings

It is necessary to take into account all of the contributing factors to an addiction to truly tackle it. In addition to the emotional and physical factors causing an addiction, also consider cultural impacts – for example, it is harder to avoid alcohol in societies where beer, wine and spirits are revered and part of everyday life.

While CBD is good at managing addiction, it will not have much effect if the patient doesn’t have the willpower to break their habit – they might stop taking one drug only to become dependent on something else. Therefore, to properly treat addiction, it’s essential to tackle the impulse behind it.

For those addicted to painkillers, it’s worth checking dietary habits to see whether they may be exacerbating symptoms of chronic pain – an unhealthy lifestyle could increase the risk of inflammation, worsening arthritis. More pain only increases dependency on painkillers. CBD does have anti-inflammatory properties that can help with arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), but plenty of benefits can also be reaped from switching to an anti-inflammatory diet.

Split Ideology On Addiction Treatments

Addiction experts have never coalesced on the best way to treat dependency to harmful substances, with some recommending “cold turkey,” and others preferring the “harm reduction” method. Going cold turkey means completely stopping consumption of the drug and removing any triggers for the addiction.

But many people question the effectiveness of cold turkey and the merits of the approach, as if the treatment doesn’t work it only serves to demoralize the addict, making it even more difficult for the addict to stop. In contrast, harm reduction offers a bit more leeway and allows the patient to gradually reduce their intake of the addictive drug, so that they become less dependent on it. For a harm reduction advocate, reducing 10 relapses a month to 5 would be considered great progress, even though there’s still more work to be done.

Incorporating middle-ground alternatives like medical cannabis is also supported by the harm reduction ideology. For an addict trying to get clean from a cocaine addiction, making the change first to cannabis or CBD products can significantly reduce the danger to health, while bringing them closer to their main goal. Furthermore, no overdoses or deaths have ever been recorded from cannabis use, while opioids took more than 40,000 US lives in 2016.

Cold turkey is a fantastic way of treating addiction for those who have immense willpower, but it doesn’t have the necessary sympathy for some addicts who find it more difficult to get clean. But with the World Health Organization effectively giving CBD the green light in December 2017 by stating that the compound has “no abuse potential,” drug addicts can safely experiment with CBD in a bid to reduce drug dependency.

Eliminating The Risk Of Cannabis Addiction

If taking cannabis to get over an addiction, then it’s important to be careful not to misuse the drugs, and this is an ever-present concern with addicts who tend to have hardwired self-sabotaging brain patterns. Finding the right type of cannabis product is a good first step, and those who aren’t convinced they’ll be able to handle the euphoric effects of THC should stick to non-psychoactive products such as CBD gummy bears, so that mental dependency cannot form.

Sensible use of cannabis can help to ease stress – CBD is known to inhibit cortisol courtesy of a reaction in the endocannabinoid system. The psychoactive properties of THC can also be beneficial from a spiritual point of view, giving profound insights into a person’s addiction, which can sometimes give them the stimulation needed to change. For some addicts, seeing that the distress their habit has caused others can be enough to spur them into change.

The psychoactive properties of cannabis have always caused controversy in the media, and those predisposed to mental health problems should perhaps stay away from cannabis treatments involving THC. With nearly one in 10 cannabis users developing a dependency to the drug, the potential for addiction is there with misuse, and addicts are more vulnerable than the rest of us to getting hooked on a substance. Heavy THC consumption causes the desensitization of the CB1 receptors in the endocannabinoid system – the body then craves more THC. In contrast, CBD does not replace any endocannabinoids or desensitize receptors.

Final Thoughts On Medical Cannabis And CBD For Addiction

Cannabis is unlike any other medication, and for those who do take products which induce a psychoactive response, it can help to go into the experience with a learning attitude, rather than dismissing the mind-bending effects as simply recreational. Many find that cannabis gives them a deeper insight into their own lives, and that by journaling their experiences on the herb, they can work out how to get the most out of it.

CBD e-liquid and vape oil are first-class non-psychoactive products that provide fast relief from cravings. When addictive urges strike, they must be suppressed quickly, and the lightning quick effects of vaping come in very handy here.

A treatment plan involving CBD and THC can also pay dividends, with “cannabinoid cycling” helping to keep the endocannabinoid system balanced – try using just CBD products one week, and then a whole-plant product the next.

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