Using CBD Oils in Recovery

Using CBD Oils in Recovery

By In Addiction Recovery, Addiction Withdrawal
Posted March 15, 2018

CBD, otherwise known as Cannabidiol, is a compound derived from cannabis that offers several medical and therapeutic benefits.

These benefits include easing pain, reducing epileptic seizures, and diminishing inflammation.

But here’s something that might surprise you:

Researchers are currently studying the potential of CBD oils as a treatment for addiction. Preliminary research suggests that CBD oil may effectively treat addiction to alcohol, tobacco, amphetamines, cocaine, heroin, and yes, even cannabis.

Here’s everything you need to know about CBD oils and their recovery benefits.

What is CBD?

Many individuals want to know: Is CBD oil the same as marijuana?

Not exactly. Both marijuana and hemp are varieties of cannabis, and CBD oils are generally derived from hemp. Marijuana and hemp both contain about 400 cannabinoids. The most commonly known cannabinoids are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol).

THC is responsible for the “high” an individual gets from smoking or ingesting cannabis. It’s psychoactive and results in the impaired functionality of the mind and body.

CBD, on the other hand, offers wellness benefits including joint support, increased energy, improved focus, reduction of epileptic seizures, pain relief, anxiety and stress relief, and more.

While marijuana is high in THC (5%-35%) and lower in other cannabinoids, hemp is high in cannabinoids like CBD and low in THC (less than 0.3%). This means that CBD oils will not produce a high, and they’re not addictive. CBD essentially blocks any amount of THC from affecting the brain.

In fact, CBD oils are non-psychoactive, non-addictive, and can be safely taken in doses of up to 1500 mg daily. One word of caution: Using CBD oils with even 0.3% THC may show up on a drug test. So if that’s a concern for you, be sure to find CBD oil that contains no THC whatsoever.

Another common question about CBD oil is: How is it used? Once CBD is extracted from the cannabis plant as an oil or powder, it can be mixed into creams or gels. These can be rubbed onto your skin or placed into capsules and taken orally. In some cases, it’s sprayed as a liquid into the individual’s mouth, mixed into food, or used as a cooking oil.

Now, let’s take a look at the benefits CBD oil can offer individuals in recovery.

CBD Reduces Cravings

Drug addiction changes the brain. It stimulates the brain’s pleasure circuit, reduces the individual’s ability to experience pleasure, disrupts critical brain structures, and so on. This causes drug cravings that can persist for years, often triggering relapse.

Thus, the ability to rewire the brain and/or reduce these cravings is key to sustainable recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. And it turns out that CBD oil may be able to help.

So far, most of the studies revolving around CBD oil and craving reduction have focused on heroin addiction, and the results have been promising. In particular, scientists have noted a reduction in “cue-induced cravings.” This is a type of craving cued by a stimulus, like viewing an image of a substance or paraphernalia.

In a placebo study, heroin addicts were given a single dose of CBD for three consecutive days. One hour, 24 hours, and seven days after the CBD was administered, the subjects were then exposed to opioid related and neutral video stimuli. Compared to the placebo group, the subjects who had been given CBD found that their cravings were lessened. This effect lasted for the full seven days after treatment.

Another study focused on tobacco use produced similar results. 24 smokers were split into two groups, one a placebo group and the other a group in which smokers were given an inhaler containing CBD. The researchers encouraged both groups to use the inhaler any time they felt the need for a cigarette.

While the placebo group experienced no change, the group using the CBD inhalers were found to have smoked 40% less cigarettes.

The authors of the study noted that CBD seems to “reduce the salience of cues.” Additionally, “[It] may affect a memory process called ‘reconsolidation,’ which is when a memory of the reward of smoking is re-activated by seeing someone smoking.”

Studies and clinical trials are still in progress for the impact of CBD on other drug cravings, including cocaine.

CBD Reduces Anxiety

Learning about CBD Oils

The authors of the study mentioned above also observed a decrease in anxiety levels in their subjects, noting the “potential therapeutic efficacy of CBD to reduce negative states in opioid-dependent individuals, which may, in turn, predict reduced craving and hence reduce the likelihood of relapse behavior.”

Anxiety is a major trigger and underlying cause of addiction. Many addicted individuals turn to substances to relieve stress, fears, or feelings of discomfort. Of course, this relief is only temporary, and negative feelings can seem even more intense once the “high” dies down. Ultimately, this causes addicts to seek relief in the form of substance abuse repeatedly.

CBD’s ability to reduce anxiety is great news, and the study above isn’t the only one highlighting this potential benefit.

A 2010 study and a 2011 study found that CBD reduced social anxiety in participants. The first study focused on individuals with social anxiety disorder (SAD), and brain scans of subjects indicated changes in blood flow to the brain regions associated with anxiety. Participants felt better overall, and the CBD altered the way their brains responded to anxiety.

The second study centered specifically on social anxiety related to public speaking. The CBD “significantly reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort in their speech performance. Preliminary results indicate that a single dose of CBD can reduce the anxiety-enhancing effect provoked by [public speaking] in SAD patients, indicating that this cannabinoid inhibits the fear of speaking in public, one of the main symptoms of the disorder.”

Research published in 2014 showed promising anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects in animals administered CBD.

In 2015, an analysis of previous studies concluded that CBD oil may be used to treat forms of anxiety including SAD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, and even posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

A 2016 case study supported this conclusion. The case study attempted to use CBD to reduce symptoms of PTSD and anxiety-related sleep disorder in a child who had experienced trauma. The CBD did reduce the child’s anxiety and improve her sleep.

While these studies show tremendous potential, researchers caution that that data on long-term use of CBD is extremely limited.

CBD Repairs Damage to the Brain Resulting from Addiction

Addiction causes long-term neurodegeneration. Research shows that substance abuse over-activates the brain’s glutamate receptors, which leads to a loss of neurons.

CBD, on the other hand, has the ability to inhibit glutamate transmission. This may help alleviate some of the damage caused by addiction-related neurotoxicity.

In a study conducted on rodents, 5% CBD gel was applied transdermally to alcohol-addicted rats. This resulted in a 48% reduction in neurodegeneration in the entorhinal cortex. The researchers stated that the study indicates “the feasibility of using CBD transdermal delivery systems for the treatment of alcohol-induced neurodegeneration.”

Living in addiction recovery with CBD oils


CBD research is still in its infancy, but early studies have shown promise and potential for the cannabinoid’s ability to treat addiction.

Research strongly indicates that CBD can reduce cravings, repair damage to the brain caused by addiction, alleviate many forms of anxiety, and lead to improved sleep. All of these benefits could offer significant help in treating addiction and even withdrawal symptoms.

However, it should be noted that CBD has not been approved by the FDA for “the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of any disease.” And researchers caution that the long-term effects of CBD use haven’t been thoroughly studied.

Still, it’s clear that CBD oils may offer a healthy option for addiction treatment and improved quality of life. To learn more information on CBD oils call one of our addiction specialists at 1-888-249-2590 or click here.

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