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CBD has been used to support people struggling with several health issues, such as depression, anxiety, pain management, and inflammation. Research is looking into CBD potential and its effectiveness in alleviating certain conditions.
As increasingly more people consume CBD on a daily basis, two main concerns are in consumers’ minds:
- Firstly, might they become addicted to CBD if they take it for long stretches of time?
- Secondly, could CBD help treat substance withdrawal symptoms?
Millions suffer from opioid, alcohol, nicotine, or anti-depressant addictions. They are looking for a substance that will help them wean off their addictions without becoming addicted to the new substance. Could CBD be the answer?
What Is CBD Used for?
There is an increasing volume of research that suggests CBD may be helpful with anxiety, stress, depression, insomnia, inflammation, and pain management.
CBD appears to interact with the human endocannabinoid system (ECS) to restore homeostasis—our bodies’ natural balance. The ECS is responsible for several bodily functions such as appetite, mood, temperature perception, inflammation, reproduction, motor perception, and memory, among others.
To work, the ECS produces its own human cannabinoids; these cannabinoids bind to relevant receptors to fix problems or alert the body and brain to an imbalance.
CBD seems to interact with these receptors by making them work better and more efficiently. This gentle synergy explains CBD’s subtle and mild effects on the body and brain.
Is CBD Safe?
The World Health Organization has described CBD as safe, non-toxic, and well-tolerated by the body:
“In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”
CBD’s non-psychoactive and non-hallucinogenic properties are the main reasons why it has been legalized throughout the United States at the federal level. Its sale is legal as a dietary supplement. There have not been any deaths linked to CBD and it is almost impossible to overdose on CBD.
Is CBD Addictive?
Evidence suggests that CBD is not addictive. Furthermore, a clinical trial that took place in 2020 showed that the sudden pause of CBD consumption did not cause any withdrawal symptoms.
The most that people seem to feel if they discontinue CBD is that symptoms like social anxiety, depression, or joint pain may return. This seems to be the extent of any CBD break.
What Are CBD’s Side Effects?
One of the main reasons that people choose to take CBD is that it causes fewer side effects compared to other medications. The most common side effects of CBD are nausea, drowsiness, and dry mouth. These can be dealt with by either lowering the dosage or changing CBD brands.
Many consumers are taking CBD because they wish to avoid taking opioids for their pain or antidepressants for their depression. They know that these medications have serious side effects and are looking for alternatives that might offer equivalent benefits.
A crucial concern is that opioids, antidepressants, nicotine, alcohol, and even THC can be addictive and cause withdrawal effects when patients try to wean off such substances.
Addictive Substances and Their Effects on Our Brains and Bodies
The human body sometimes fails and requires help to recover its balance. We might feel depressed after a psychological shock or we could be experiencing excruciating pain that can only be alleviated with opioids. Some of the medications which are prescribed can become addictive when taken for the long-term.
There are several addictive substances and each of them has a different effect on the body:
- Antidepressants boost our serotonin brain levels. Serotonin is the feel-good neurotransmitter and is responsible for sleep, mood, digestion, and sexual function.
- Alcohol increases our GABA and serotonin levels. GABA is another neurotransmitter related to mood, pain relief, and anxiety, which explains why alcohol has such a pervasive effect.
- Opioids govern our pain perception because they interact with our own natural opioid system. Just like we have an ECS that produces and interacts with cannabinoids, we also have a natural opioid system that manages pain. When we take opioids, they interact with our own natural opioid system in a way that may cause addiction and imbalances. Opioids may lessen our pain but also cause withdrawal symptoms.
- Nicotine also interacts with our brain neurotransmitters, namely dopamine. Nicotine stimulates the brain’s reward system and makes us feel good.
- As for THC, the cannabinoid found in marijuana, it can cause addiction as it interacts with our CB1 brain receptors. THC shows an affinity for our human cannabinoid anandamide, which is linked with feelings of bliss and joy (anandamide means ‘bliss’ in Sanskrit).
What Is Addiction?
Addiction is a psychological state whereby the body aches for a substance that gives it reward and pleasure. The brain remembers how it feels when it takes the addictive substance and craves it when absent.
The main characteristics of addiction include:
- The inability to stop taking the substance despite the negative consequences it has on one’s behavior and health.
- Also, addicted people find it hard to control themselves and are constantly looking for ways to take the addictive substance.
- Finally, addicted people cannot recognize they have become dependent on the substance and reject any notion of addiction.
What Is Withdrawal?
Withdrawal symptoms are the psychological and physical effects experienced when a person stops taking the addictive substance. They usually occur after prolonged use of specific substances such as alcohol, nicotine, opioids, heroin, cocaine, or THC. People may also experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking their anti-depressants or stimulants.
When the body craves a substance, it displays several symptoms such as restlessness, irritability, changes in mood and appetite, nausea, insomnia, dysphoria, and weakness.
For example, people exhibiting anti-depressants’ withdrawal symptoms experience nausea, vomiting, reduced appetite, diarrhea, digestion problems, dizziness, and drowsiness.
As soon as the withdrawal symptoms take effect, the people craving the substance start looking for it to alleviate their pain and craving. This creates a vicious circle of substance abuse, withdrawal symptoms, and substance abuse again.
Withdrawal symptoms occur when our body is out of balance and is looking for ways to restore its homeostasis. During substance consumption, the body and brain become accustomed to the substance being present; when the substance disappears, they are thrown out of balance.
What is Tolerance?
Withdrawal is bad enough on its own. However, it becomes a lot worse because of tolerance. A person’s body also becomes increasingly accustomed to high levels of the substance in question. The body’s tolerance grows as larger doses are required to reach the same levels of reward and joy. Not only is our body asking for the substance, it demands it in ever greater quantities.
Using CBD to Treat Addiction Withdrawal
Because CBD is non-addictive and non-toxic, there is increasing research into the possibility of taking CBD to treat withdrawal and addiction.
Studies suggest that CBD may be beneficial with withdrawal symptoms in several ways:
- CBD appears to reduce the euphoric sensation during the intoxication phase.
- CBD also seems to appease the severity of symptoms during the withdrawal phase.
- CBD may also protect people from relapse during the post-withdrawal phase.
Interestingly enough, this is true regardless of the substance that has triggered withdrawal:
- In trials, CBD reduced drug cravings and helped people stop relapsing into their addictive habits.
- With smoking, there is some evidence that CBD seemed to reduce the number of cigarettes a person smoked.
- In the case of alcohol, some trials showed that CBD prevented relapse even when the subjects were deliberately presented with stressful events that could act as triggers for their addiction.
- As a hangover is a form of withdrawal, some have sought using CBD for a hangover. That’s a concept we address in the linked post.
CBD and Depression
Another key area where CBD may be helpful is depression and anxiety. Right now, the most common antidepressant medication is SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors). SSRI antidepressants work by increasing the levels of serotonin within the brain. However, they can have severe side effects such as dizziness, irritability, indigestion, nausea, sweating, insomnia, and drowsiness.
That’s why people suffering from depression have tried to decrease their intake of antidepressants while increasing their intake of CBD. Their goal is to keep feeling well without taking SSRIs.
If you’re interested in trying CBD for depression, please note that people on SSRIs should consult with their doctor before trying CBD as CBD interacts with antidepressant medication.
CBD for Cannabis Withdrawal
While CBD is not addictive, THC seems to be.
THC interacts directly with our CB1 brain receptors and activates them to cause a flood of dopamine in our brain. This flood increases our sensation of reward, pleasure, and euphoria. When THC has washed off our system, our nervous system craves for more and causes withdrawal symptoms.
Thankfully, THC withdrawal symptoms are usually mild. The most common marijuana withdrawal symptoms are irritability, weakness, sweating, insomnia, restlessness, cravings, and decreased appetite.
CBD does not cause a dopamine flood because it does not interact directly with the CB1 and CB2 receptors. While CBD has an affinity for the CB2 receptors, it apparently gives a gentle “push” to our CB2 receptors to work better. CBD’s main task is to help our body reach homeostasis.
CBD seems to mitigate THC’s addictive properties and help people detach themselves from their habit.
How Long Does CBD Stay in My System?
The length of time CBD stays in our system depends on several variables:
- Long-time use creates a build-up of CBD in our bodies that may take some time to wash off.
- Similarly, larger quantities will take longer to exit our system.
- Heavier people have more fat cells. As CBD is fat-soluble, it attaches itself to fat cells. This means heavier people will have CBD stay longer in their system.
- Exercise increases metabolism and may help our bodies metabolize CBD faster.
- Taking CBD with food, particularly fatty food like avocados, oil, or butter, helps CBD remain in our bodies for longer.
- Finally, the method of consumption also plays a role, as it affects bioavailability—the amount of CBD consumed that actually reaches the bloodstream and has an effect on the body. Inhaling CBD will take it straight into your bloodstream but will only last for two hours. Ingesting it will take longer to act but could retain CBD for up to six hours.
Using CBD for Withdrawal
More than 20 million adult Americans suffer from some sort of substance abuse. Weaning themselves off their addictive substance could give them back their mental and physical health and help them live happier, healthier lives.
Many people consume CBD for its potential in alleviating inflammation, pain, depression, insomnia, and anxiety. As research is expanding into the world of CBD, there is increasing interest in the possibility that CBD might mitigate the effects of substance abuse and help sufferers get rid of their addiction.
According to WHO, CBD is non-toxic, non-hallucinogenic, non-addictive, and well-tolerated by the human body. There is no evidence of any CBD-related death and it is almost impossible to overdose on CBD.
Initial evidence suggests that CBD may help reduce cravings, limit the severity of withdrawal symptoms, and prevent people from relapsing.
Clinical trials on alcohol abuse, THC, nicotine, and antidepressants have shown a potential that requires further investigation. However, we still have to run large scale trials and determine the right dosage, interactions with other medication, counter-indications, etc.
Until then, it is best to consume CBD with your doctor’s approval and guidance, especially if you wish to try it for an ailment or condition.
Here at Synchronicity we avoid harsh CO2 extraction processes, use sustainable farming practices for all of our plants, and oversee the gentle hand-pressing and coconut oil fusion of our products. We work with third-party testing facilities to ensure that everything we create is safe and reliable. Synchronicity—the passionate Hemp Oil producers.