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Can you use CBD if you are sober?

Can you use CBD if you are sober?

Recovery from drug or alcohol addiction isn't just about abstinence. For many, sobriety is a lifelong commitment to wellbeing and positive change.

If you are currently sober, you may be wondering if herbal products like CBD oil can be a safe, supportive, and positive aspect of your sober lifestyle.

While everyone's sobriety journey is unique, recent research suggests that CBD hemp oil products may be safe for those in recovery from substance abuse.

In addition, CBD oil's ability to interact with the body's endocannabinoid system may have some promising positive effects for those in recovery. For example, CBD may help ease common triggers for relapse, such as anxiety. As always, it's important to consult with your medical and mental health team to ensure CBD oil products are appropriate for your unique circumstances.

Safety of CBD Oil Products When You're Sober

When you're sober, it's pivotal to avoid addictive, toxic, or intoxicating substances. Though CBD is a naturally sourced product widely touted as safe and free of side effects, you and your health team will still want to carefully consider how CBD may interact with your mental and physical health.

Let's take a closer look at cannabis, hemp, CBD, and safety.

What is CBD?

Short for cannabidiol, CBD is just one of hundreds of chemical compounds that can be extracted from plants in the cannabis family. Generally, CBD oil is sourced from industrial hemp that contains a specific proportion of these molecular compounds, with a low percentage of THC.

To produce its positive effects, CBD interacts with receptors in your body's endocannabinoid system. A complex and far-reaching system, the endocannabinoid system influences your nervous system, immune system, pain reactions, sleep, and more.

Thanks to the dense concentration of cannabinoid receptors in your brain, CBD has been vigorously researched for its potential to support positive outcomes on mood, stress, and anxiety.

CBD is Non-Psychoactive

Unlike THC, one of the most well-known compounds derived from the cannabis plant, hemp oil products like CBD are non-psychoactive.

Fortunately for those in recovery from addiction, this means that taking CBD products will not produce psychoactive effects, intoxication, or a “high”.

In fact, studies have demonstrated that when CBD and THC are taken together, CBD actually works to counter the negative side effects associated with THC usage, such as anxiety.

CBD Oil is Non-Addictive and Non-Toxic

According to the World Health Organization's Critical Review on CBD, there have been no case reports of CBD causing dependence, addiction, or abuse.

Animal studies cited by the WHO show that rats don't develop a tolerance to CBD, and tolerance hasn't been reported in humans either. In addition, the WHO determined that CBD is not associated with any public health concerns, such as driving while intoxicated. In general, the WHO's report clarifies that CBD doesn't produce any of the physiological effects associated with drugs like THC.

The same Critical Review from the World Health Organization analyzed numerous studies to determine that CBD oil has a “good safety profile” and isn't associated with serious adverse side effects.

CBD and Drug Tests

When sober or in treatment for addiction, you want to avoid triggering a positive drug test. Fortunately, drug tests that look for THC in your urine are not designed to detect pure CBD.

Full spectrum CBD oil derived from hemp contains less than 0.3% THC, so it isn’t likely to produce a positive on a THC test. However, pure CBD aka CBD isolate and broad spectrum CBD contain 0.0% THC, so these may be the more attractive options for sober people.

Important safety tip: CBD can interact with some medications, including certain antidepressants. So if you're currently taking antidepressants or medication for alcohol withdrawal, consult with a physician before taking CBD oil or any cannabis products.

Can CBD Oil Work Against Addictions?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, people with addictions often have high rates of comorbid mental health illnesses.

For instance, those who suffer from stress, post-traumatic stress disorder, or anxiety might use substances as a coping mechanism, leading to a cycle of abuse and addition.

And chronic pain sufferers might turn to substances to alleviate pain.

Because CBD is known to interact with cannabinoid receptors throughout the body, hemp products could prove helpful for those who are sober and looking to avoid common mental health triggers that contribute to relapse. Here's what studies have found:

  • By enhancing serotonin levels in the brain, CBD oil may help ease anxiety.
  • CBD oil may help decrease physiological responses to stress-producing situations, which could be helpful for those suffering from
  • A 2015 study analyzed 49 studies that assessed CBD's effects on stress and anxiety, and found that the evidence “conclusively demonstrates CBD's efficacy in reducing anxiety behaviors relevant to multiple disorders, including PTSD, GAD, PD, OCD, and SAD.”
  • Studies have shown that CBD shows promise as a non-euphoric way to treat conditions of chronic pain, which could prove useful in the fight against the opioid crisis.

To explore the benefits of CBD oil in the context of addiction treatment, researchers at the University of Montreal analyzed 19 studies related to addiction and CBD. As a whole, it was found that CBD was not only safe and free of side effects, but its use also showed a promising potential to ease the co-morbidities of drug addiction, especially anxiety.

CBD as an Anti-Relapse Aid

Relapse is associated not only with anxiety, but with impulsive behavior to use drugs or alcohol. To look at the potential of CBD as an anti-relapse aid in addiction treatment, one study published in the Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology studied rats with either alcohol or cocaine addiction.

For seven days, the addicted rats were given a dose of transdermal CBD every 24 hours. Then, researchers tested the rats for their anxiety levels and rates of impulsive behavior. The results were promising, and showed that the rats who were given CBD experienced a decrease in impulsive behavior linked to drug seeking.

Though more research is needed in human subjects, these results showed promising potential for CBD in addiction treatment.

Research Efforts on CBD Oil and Sobriety

Because of CBD hemp oil's ability to balance mood and ease physical symptoms, research efforts on CBD for addiction are ongoing. While more work is needed to determine how CBD can function in sobriety, some recent studies have shown promising results:

  • A randomized controlled trial in 2019 found that CBD was more effective than a placebo in reducing drug cravings and anxiety for those in recovery from heroin use disorder.
  • A major review in Frontiers in Pharmacology comprehensively looked at review of 26 studies to determine CBD's possible therapeutic applications for the long-term effects of alcohol addiction. Based on the studies, the review suggested that CBD could help reduce alcohol drinking levels, reduce inflammation related to alcohol addiction, and even reduce brain damage associated with alcoholism.
  • Some studies have shown that CBD can help ease addiction to the THC found in cannabis. 

The Best Ways to Use CBD Oil Products When Sober

Before you decide to use CBD oil while sober, you should consult with your physician. If you and your healthcare team decide CBD oil could be a part of your sober lifestyle, consider these safety tips:

  • Product purity. Purchase CBD hemp oil from reputable companies in order to avoid contaminated products with unwanted ingredients. Some brands offer a Certificate of Analysis for their hemp products, which means that they seek out third-party lab reports to verify quality and purity.
  • Start with the lowest possible dose and work up in order to gauge your individual response.
  • Relapse triggers. CBD products are available in various forms, from edibles to tinctures to capsules. When choosing, consult with your medical team about your potential relapse triggers. For example, some people recovering from addiction to pills may choose to avoid taking CBD hemp oil in capsule form, since it may be a context-induced trigger. Also, keep in mind that different CBD delivery methods change the effect of the dosage. CBD edibles, for instance, will take longer to work but promote a longer-lasting effect.

Promising research suggests that CBD oil is non-toxic, non-intoxicating, and generally safe!

For some, it can even help support mental health and boost overall wellbeing. For all these reasons, it's possible that CBD could be safe and supportive while navigating sobriety.  As always, consulting with your physician can help you decide if CBD is appropriate for your unique recovery journey.

 

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