In the past sixty years there has been much research on drug abuse and drug addiction. We know now that most drugs work on the so-called reward center in our brains. At first, taking drugs is mostly a rewarding experience, it gives the user a positive feeling or a high. At a later stage, when one becomes addicted, drugs do often no longer deliver the same positive feelings. Drugs are then no longer used to generate positive feelings, but rather to suppress negative feelings. These may be withdrawal symptoms, or just a depressed mood caused by not being under the influence of the preferred substance. Not everyone who uses drugs becomes addicted, but the lives of those who do become addicted can become very disrupted. Giving up the use of drugs is a difficult process, which often involves relapse. Even for those who have been drug-free for years it can be difficult to keep up their abstinence. Effective medication that can help in the process of quitting is therefore more than welcome.
Canadian scientists wrote an article reviewing several studies that have been done so far on the effects of CBD on addiction . Most of this research consisted of animal studies. In one of these the effect of CBD on the use of morphine was studied. It was found that rats who were given CBD in combination with morphine, experienced less craving for morphine later on. A similar effect was found for various psychostimulants (such as cocaine). Rats that received CBD had less craving for cocaine later on.
In humans, few studies have been performed that consider the effects of CBD on the use of illegal drugs. However, the effects of CBD on alcohol and nicotine addiction have been studied . For example, one study found positive effects of CBD on the number of cigarettes smoked by nicotine addicts. During the course of a week smokers were asked to take CBD via an inhaler whenever they felt craving for a cigarette. When the week had passed, there was a decrease of 40% in the number of smoked cigarettes.
How exactly CBD has its effect on addiction is not yet known. But we do know from other research that CBD has a positive effect on our ability to cope with stress. Possibly, being able to better deal with stress makes a person less at risk for relapsing.
The research done on the effect of CBD on addiction is still preliminary, but there are certainly indications that CBD may be useful in the fight against addiction. Further research is indicated. Currently there are multiple studies being performed in the U.S. and in Canada, but no results are available just yet.
Advice for using cannabinoids in addiction
There is evidence that CBD can help to reduce or completely stop the use of addictive substances. It may certainly be worth it to try a CBD-containing product for a while. When you do so, it may also be a good idea to quantify your use of substances and make notes of this . This way you will be able to tell if the use of CBD has an effect. You can start with a low dose of CBD and slowly increase this dose until it has the desired effect. If you are already taking medication, always consult your doctor or specialist first. Click here to read more about safe use of cannabinoids.
- Prud’homme, M., Cata, R., Jutras-Aswad, D. Cannabidiol as an Intervention for Addictive Behaviors: A Systematic Review of the Evidence (2015). Subst Abuse, 9: 33–38.
- Morgan, C.J., Das, R.K., Joye, A., Curran, H.V., Kamboj, S.K. (2013). Cannabidiol reduces cigarette consumption in tobacco smokers: preliminary findings. Addict Behav, 38(9): 2433-6.