CBD and Substance Abuse


The rising rate of substance abuse in the United States presents some very troubling statistics. In the past decade, there has been an explosion of opiate-related overdoses. In many U.S. cities, deaths due to heroin and other opioid overdose are at all-time highs. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)—the primary source reporting prevalence and patterns of substance abuse in U.S. civilian populations over the age of 12– reports that as of 2015, nearly 21 million Americans had a substance abuse problem. 


Statistics* show:

  • 20 million Americans suffer from drug and alcohol abuse

  • 3.8 million Americans report having abused painkillers in the last 30 days

  • 1.2 million Americans currently struggle with methamphetamine addiction

  • 830,000 people in the U.S. used heroin in 2015

  • 3 out of 4 substance abusers also suffer from alcohol addiction


The good news is early research shows Cannabidiol or CBD oil to be effective in improving symptoms of a wide variety of addictions— including tobacco, alcohol, opiates and marijuana. Clinical trials have given promising results in using CBD to reduce substance dependence. CBD is non-addictive as well as non-psychoactive, making it a safe and effective method for reducing the drug cravings and anxiety experienced by addicts. CBD could prove to be the most effective, non-toxic tool we have for fighting addiction and stimulating the recovery process for substance abusers. 


How Does CBD Work?

Cannabinoids in CBD oil bind with cannabinoid receptors in our body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS plays an interactive role between body and mind and is directly connected to the vitality and health of our neurological functions.

Much of dependence and relapse in substance addiction is due to nerve damage in the brain caused by repeated abuse. Excessive chemical dependency leads to neurodegeneration, slowly killing neurons in the brain. Due to this damage, most addicts experience cognitive and behavioral changes which lead to chronic relapse of abuse. Because CBD is highly effective as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent, it can repair neuron damage and impairment, reducing the stimulus of addictive impulses. 


CBD also reduces withdrawal symptoms of addiction such as insomnia, anxiety and irritability. Neurons in the brain are desensitized by chemicals such as nicotine, THC, etc. When a person stops using, the brain sends signals of reinforcement which manifest as symptoms of withdrawal. Continued use acts as a reward mechanism for these signals, increasing the pattern of addiction. CBD, however, is able to interfere with this signal system, reducing the negative symptoms of addiction and counterbalancing cue-induced cravings and anxiety. Because CBD oil stimulates the receptors within our endocannabinoid system, it can promote healing while repairing desensitized neurons in the process.


The Studies Show…

Recently released research from the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego shows promising evidence that CBD does, indeed, treat substance addiction. Rats with addictions to both alcohol and cocaine were given CBD. They found that CBD decreased instances of relapse and reduced stress-induced, drug seeking behaviors as compared to rats which had no administration of CBD.

Another study at the University of Mississippi strengthened previous results when, in 2015, they found CBD was an effective intervention for addictive behaviors. Their research showed that cannabis modifies “various neuronal circuits involved in drug addiction.” In effect, CBD is working to rewire the circuits of your brain which fuel addictive impulses and stimulate addictive behaviors. This is extremely exciting news for anyone who has witnessed the ruthless cycle of abstinence and relapse experienced by addicts. 


What to Expect…

The findings of recent research on the effects of CBD oil on substance abuse are promising and exciting. However, much more work and research is necessary before any conclusive evidence can be drawn. 


The first step is for the DEA to change CBD’s distinction as a Schedule I drug, which could happen as early as June 2018.  Removing the stigma would make it much easier for researchers to move into further human clinical trials. There have been promising steps in this direction. For instance, last year, the National Institutes of Health awarded a grant to researchers studying the link between marijuana use and chronic pain treatment among opioid users. In December 2017 the World Health Organization (WHO) determined that CBD should not be a scheduled substance, and therefore not be regulated like THC and opiates. Yet, without substantive human studies, it’s still difficult to say for sure whether CBD has concrete healing properties.


CBD’s potential in treating addictions to everything from heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, alcohol, tobacco and even marijuana is tangible. As CBD research gains funding, it only remains to be seen how much more diverse the applications of CBD oil will be for substance abuse. If you are interested in learning more about CBD oil, contact us at Tru Medicinals!