The cause of drug addiction varies significantly from person to person, making addiction very difficult to treat, and therefore difficult to overcome. Every socio-economic background, geographic region, educational level, ethnicity, and race suffers from addiction, and it can stem from emotional issues, mental disease, environmental circumstances, and physical illness. Addiction stemming from physical illness is known as dependency, and is a result of long-term use of addictive medications that alter the chemistry in the brain. When use of the medication is stopped suddenly, the brain is then lacking what it once was so accustomed to having, as is the body; the physical response to this is physical illness and psychological disturbances until the body and brain are able to return to their natural functioning state. Using addictive substances for an extended period, regardless of the reasoning behind it, results in the same withdraw experience. Once this cycle starts, it continues for many people, sometimes even branching in the younger generation that is exposed to it.
As there are so many causes of drug addiction, it’s no surprise that an estimated 30 million people in the United States and Europe suffer from addiction and drug abuse, with 22 million being alcoholics, 6 million cocaine addicts, and nearly 2 million heroin abusers. Substance abuse also negatively impacts society as a whole; it is responsible for drug-related illness, death, violence, and crime that cost the United States alone approximately $66.9 billion every year. With such a large number of people suffering from this issue, and so many causes for its development, science has struggled to find an alternative method of treatment that can be applied to a large and differing range of people, as well as one that is non-addictive itself. CBD, also called cannabidiol, may be the answer they have been hoping for.
Can CBD Stop Addiction?
It may seem counterintuitive to treat substance abuse and addiction using a compound found in the cannabis plant, as cannabis is notoriously known for its psychological “high”. The difference lies in the different compounds of the plant and how they react with our endocannabinoid system. THC is the compound that is responsible for producing psychological effects, while CBD has no such effect whatsoever. Scientists believe this is because CBD interacts with our cannabinoid receptors, while by contrast, THC binds directly to the receptors instead. THC is typically non-habit-forming and non-addictive, but with that said, just about anything can be addictive, including food, so some argue that addiction to THC is possible. With its potential to block the cravings of different substances that are experienced with addiction, CBD can be used not only to treat relapse of use of things like heroin or prescription opiates, but it can eliminate any potential cravings for use of its sister compound THC.
CBD does not alter the initial effects of drugs (the euphoria or “high” is still experienced), but instead, it is used to reduce the cravings of drugs during and after substance abuse treatment. By accomplishing this, those that suffer from addiction are able to not only achieve sobriety but maintain their recovery as well. A double blind placebo study was able to demonstrate this effect of cannabidiol; heroin addicts were given a single concentrated dose of CBD over a three day period. They were then exposed to visual stimuli known to induce cravings, as well as visuals that were neutral. This exposure was introduced to participants at one hour, twenty-four hours, and one week after the CBD treatment. Compared to those on the placebo, the participants that received CBD reported that their cravings had been reduced; this effect lasted for a full seven day period.
Combating Existing Mental Disorders
As previously mentioned, substance abuse and addiction can result from a number of things. Many people suffering from mental issues and illnesses like bipolar and anxiety disorders are often compelled to self-medicate using different addictive substances. This is because these individuals are suffering from mental chemical imbalances and deficiencies, and the application of different drugs offer some relief, albeit temporary. The sufferer will continue to chase and use any drug or substance in an effort to alleviate the mental discomfort brought on by their existing illness. Unfortunately, this only complicates matters, as these drugs don’t really treat their mental disorder, but still drag them into an endless cycle of use, abuse, and addiction.
CBD has been found to be a beneficial, effective alternative treatment for a variety of mental health issues, from obsessive compulsive disorder and other anxiety-based illnesses to depression and even schizophrenia. By providing people with a safe, affordable, effective, and readily available treatment option for mental health disorders, we can prevent a large number of people from attempting to self-medicate, thereby preventing their substance addiction and reducing the number of people suffering from drug addiction. This would not only save lives, but it would also positively impact our economy (by reducing the amount of money spent each year by the government for treating and retreating addiction sufferers), lessen the amount of homelessness experienced, reduce drug-related crime and violence, and improving our society overall.
One for All
CBD is well tolerated across many different people, with all kinds of different health profiles. There are few to no reported side effects, and it does not produce any psychoactive effects or stimulate the reward center of the brain, which makes it safe to use, especially among those that suffer from substance addiction. It can effectively treat a variety of mental disorders, and is an appealing choice for many people, as it does not require a prescription to buy or use it. While addiction itself needs to be treated with a combination of approaches with an emphasis on therapy to address psychological issues that may contribute to addiction, the addition of CBD to other existing conventional treatment routines has the potential to help many people overcome their struggle with substance use once and for all. (If you’re interested in learning more, make sure to check out this in-depth article on CBD cannabis oil.)