CBD and Alcohol Use Disorder
Around 15% of the population is addicted to alcohol. Sadly, for many people, alcohol abuse is a demon that will plague them for the rest of their lives—affecting their health, happiness, and relationships with friends and family. But, in recent years there has been the potential light at the end of the tunnel. Cannabidiol (CBD) based products may be beneficial in helping alcoholics cope with and overcome their addictions.
In this article we’ll be taking a closer look at CBD and alcoholism, finding out how it works, and how it might have positive effects on those who are addicted.
What is CBD?
Often mistaken for THC, CBD stands for cannabidiol, one of over 100 known compounds which can be extracted from the hemp plant. While it is a member of the Cannabis Sativa family, it has no psychoactive properties. Instead, it is typically used as an herbal health supplement.
CBD has proven time and time again to be a reliable health aid for many medical conditions. The most notable of these conditions are epilepsy, anxiety, depression, pain, cancer, and chemotherapy treatment-related symptoms.
Since the official legalization of CBD in the United States, the race has been on for scientists to get into the very fabric of this wonderful gift from nature. Researchers and medical professionals alike want to know exactly what CBD is capable of.
Cannabis changed the landscape of the medical industry when it started to show remarkably promising results in patients with epilepsy a while back. Since then, it has been put under the microscope – quite literally – while we see where the limits of this amazing plant extract lay.
Currently, CBD is being observed for its effects and ability to aid those who are suffering from addictions to hard drugs and alcohol.
How Does CBD Help in The Treatment of Alcoholism?
Alcoholism is frequently referred to now as alcohol use disorder (AUD), and it has two main characteristics. One is the actual physical addiction to alcohol. The other is an individual’s psychological dependence on drinking.
The physical addiction is present in chronic drinkers who experience symptoms of withdrawal when they stop. These may include depression, fatigue, headache, anxiety, fever, nausea, and agitation. For later stage alcoholics, more severe symptoms include delirium tremens; characterized by tremors, hallucinations, and even fatal seizures.
Once an individual stops drinking and gets through the traumatic physical symptoms of withdrawal, a psychological dependency is likely to remain. It is this dependency that causes them to begin drinking again, despite all evidence that it is a terrible idea. The consequences of picking up a drink may be devastating; loss of health, home, job, or family. Even in the face of these calamities, the individual may very well still abuse alcohol.
CBD For Psychological Addiction
Addiction to alcohol or any other substance is not just a case of someone not possessing enough will power. Drugs and alcohol flood the body with feel-good chemicals like dopamine and neurotransmitters that circumvent the normal responses people feel to pleasure. As a result, a “groove” gets worn in the brain that acts as a shortcut to feeling better.
CBD is thought to dampen the brains memory of this groove, giving the addict a chance to create new patterns without his or her chemical responses always in the lead. This dampening effect may significantly reduce both the amount of alcohol consumption as well as the compulsion to drink.
When CBD oil is taken, it works on the same pleasure centers that are affected by alcohol and other substances. A 2018 study was performed on rats who were addicted to alcohol or cocaine. These rats routinely showed signs of addiction and pleasure seeking through drug and alcohol self-administration.
They were given CBD once a day for a week. The results were nothing short of remarkable. The rats were deterred from “relapsing” for up to five months!
Animal studies like this represent important milestones both in cannabidiol research and finding a cure for addictive disorders. It shows that CBD may reduce the symptoms of psychological dependence merely by adding it to one’s daily regimen.
CBD For Physical Withdrawal
Physical withdrawal symptoms can be equally as difficult to bring under control in people with alcohol use disorder. But using it during detox and in the months following the initial period of sobriety may help when faced with stress and triggers. Additionally, the adaptogenic nature of the compound makes it an ideal remedy for some of the more uncomfortable symptoms below.
Frequent and severe anxiety is the flagship emotion of every heavy drinker, and one of the most challenging to overcome. The addict continues to use the substance of choice, believing that it relieves the symptoms of anxiety. And it does.
The problem is that it becomes an uncontrollable cycle where more alcohol is needed to treat the anxiety brought on by the previous day’s binge. CBD is incredibly useful in treating anxiety and panic attacks and can be useful for relieving these symptoms in recovering alcoholics as well.
The terrible depression caused by withdrawal from alcohol is a result of the imbalance in the brain’s chemistry that it creates. CBD helps to maintain balance and stabilize moods long after alcohol has been stopped.
Fatigue, Fever, And Headaches
Flu-like symptoms are a common hallmark of hangovers and withdrawal. CBD is ideal for treating pain and fatigue. Its anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce these side effects of alcohol withdrawal potent antioxidant effects can rid the body of harmful toxins faster.
CBD oil has a calming effect on the nervous system and can reduce agitation and jitters caused by withdrawal.
Reducing nausea and stomach upset is a well-known benefit of cannabis.
Often called “the shakes, ” they can be severe and life-threatening. Delerium Tremens can cause seizures in long-term users who try to quit drinking. CBD is known to prevent seizures and is used with great success in the treatment of epilepsy in children.
Some long-term drinkers develop neurological issues, and in extreme cases can develop a disorder called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. Commonly known as “wet brain” it is characterized by dementia and confusion. Studies published on wet brain seizures show that the neuroprotectant effects of CBD may help to protect the brain and alleviate confusion and memory issues associated with the syndrome.
Addiction is a heartbreaking condition that has profound physical and psychological consequences. These consequences are felt by not only the addict, but by loved ones, friends, and the community as a whole. By working with persons own endocannabinoid system, CBD/cannabis can act as a powerful tool to assist in recovery. More clinical studies are needed to address the issues that drug addicts and alcoholics face.