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Addiction, Withdrawal, & CBD Oil: Groundbreaking Research & Finding the Right Product

Substance abuse is a struggle for many people in today’s world. When in the grips of an alcohol or drug addiction, it can be difficult, or near impossible, to see a way out. Add withdrawal symptoms to the mix and it’s easy to understand why relapse can happen. Luckily, recent research has found that CBD oil may be able to help break the cycle.

Some substances, opiates, in particular, have incredibly nasty withdrawal symptoms that keep the addiction alive and well. CBD oil can potentially alleviate these symptoms while reducing anxiety and addictive behaviors.

Keep in mind, the information presented on this page is intended to serve only as an informational guide – a starting point of reference – and should never be considered medical adviceSpeak to your doctor before adding CBD oil to your addiction treatment plan.

Benefits of CBD Oil for Addiction and Withdrawal

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the hundreds of cannabinoids that occur naturally in the cannabis plant. Until recently, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, has dominated cannabis related conversations, but times have changed. While THC does have its own therapeutic benefits, it is most commonly associated with the high people experience after consuming marijuana.

CBD does not contain the same psychoactive properties, and provides benefits without any impairment. In other words, CBD oil will not get you high. Obviously, this is an important feature when considering different methods for treating addiction or withdrawal.

CBD oil interacts with CB1 and CB2 receptors located in the brain and central nervous system. By working indirectly with these cannabinoid receptors, CBD can help the body find homeostasis, and providing potential relief from physical withdrawal symptoms while also calming anxiety and improving mood.

When it comes to treating substance abuse disorders and withdrawal symptoms, a combination of therapies is often employed. These therapies include behavioral therapies, psychological evaluation, and treatment for comorbid mental health factors like depression. Part of an addiction treatment plan may also include the use of prescription medications to treat withdrawal and prevent relapse. Unfortunately, some of these medications can come with unpleasant side effects.

If you’re considering adding CBD oil to your addiction treatment plan, and are currently taking prescription medications to help with recovery, speak with your doctor and keep the following chart in mind.

Common Medical Treatments for Addictions Addiction Medication Uses Potential Side Effects of Medication Potential Side Effects of Addiction Medication + CBD Oil
Methadone (Dolophine; Methadose) Acts on the same areas in the brain as opiates to suppress opioid withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. Restlessness; nausea; vomiting; constipation; heavy sweating; slow breathing; itchy skin; sexual problems. Using CBD oil and Methadone can increase the side effects of dizziness; drowsiness; confusion.
Buprenorphine (Suboxone; Subutex; Probuphine; Sublocade) Acts on the same areas in the brain as opiates to suppress opioid withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. Dizziness; drowsiness; blurred vision; nausea; vomiting; headache; back pain; insomnia; increased sweating; pounding or rapid heartbeat. Using CBD oil with Buprenorphine can lead to depression of the CNS causing respiratory distress that could lead to coma or death.
Naltrexone (Vivitrol) Blocks the effects of opioids at their receptor sites.  Only suitable for patients who have already been detoxed. Nausea; headache; dizziness; anxiety; fatigue; vomiting. Using CBD oil with Naltrexone can increase the risk of liver damage.
Bupropion (Zyban) Affects the area of the brain that causes nicotine cravings. Insomnia; dry mouth; dizziness; drowsiness; diarrhea; constipation; fatigue; blurred vision; stomach pain. Using CBD oil with Bupropion can increase the risk of liver damage.  Always consult a doctor before using together.
Varenicline (Chantix) Mimics the effects of nicotine in the body and reduces the urge to smoke. Nausea; vomiting; stomach pain; constipation; diarrhea; dry mouth; changes in appetite; insomnia; trouble breathing; vivid dreams. There are no known interactions between CBD oil and Varenicline.  But that does not mean they do not exist. Always consult a doctor before using together.
Acamprosate (Campral) Decreases cravings and the desire to use alcohol.   Does not treat the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Diarrhea; nausea; vomiting; stomach pain; headache; loss of appetite; drowsiness. There are no known interactions between CBD oil and Acamprosate.  But that does not mean they do not exist.  Always consult a doctor before using together.
Disulfiram (Antabuse) Causes a negative reaction when even a small amount of alcohol is consumed. Drowsiness; headache; metallic taste in the mouth; skin rash or acne; impotence; swollen or sore tongue. There are no known interactions between CBD oil and Disulfiram.  But that does not mean they do not exist. Always consult a doctor before using together.

The side effects of these medications can complicate recovery. CBD oil, on the other hand, does not produce these same side effects, meaning it could hold promise for people dealing with addiction when nothing else has worked.

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Effectiveness of CBD Oil for Substance Abuse and Withdrawal

While the research is ongoing, CBD oil has been found to help people combat substance abuse and withdrawals in a few different ways.

CBD Oil for Relapse Prevention

One particular case study looked at CBD oil’s impact on relapse and “addict-like” behaviors. Researchers administered CBD through a transdermal patch once daily to animals that had previously self-administered cocaine and alcohol and displayed dependency, anxiety, and impulsivity, characteristics common in relapsing addicts. This daily application was carried out for 7 days.

Even after this short period of study, CBD oil produced some incredible results. Researchers found that “addict-like” behaviors were eliminated and relapse was deterred for up to 5 months. This long-lasting effect happened despite the fact that CBD was gone from the brain and body after only 3 days.

Encouragingly, the study states, “The results provide proof of principle supporting potential of CBD in relapse prevention along two dimensions: beneficial actions across several vulnerability states and long-lasting effects with only brief treatment.”

While positive results from one short-term study performed on animals is not enough to say definitively that CBD oil can prevent relapse in humans, it is promising. Further research and clinical trials will provide more insight into whether or not CBD oil is a viable tool for preventing relapse.

CBD Oil for Anxiety

Anxiety can be a major issue for people struggling with substance abuse and addiction. It is one of those never-ending loops. For many people, using drugs or alcohol is a means of escaping chronic or debilitating anxiety. But, in a vicious cycle, the self-destructive behavior only leads to more anxiety; then, attempting to break the habit of addiction again, can create a high level of anxiety.

By reducing the anxiety that fuels many addicts’ behavior, it may be possible to reduce or stop substance abuse. With a clearer, and more sober mind, the door to talk therapies, or other such addiction treatments, is open, and patients can begin to address the emotional and psychological causes of their anxiety.

CBD activates a serotonin receptor called 5-HT1A, which boosts serotonin levels in the brain. Low serotonin is linked to both depression and anxiety. Typically, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are prescribed to treat anxiety and depression, but they come with a list of unpleasant side effects. Simply put, CBD oil acts similarly to SSRIs without the same side effects.

Studies have found that CBD oil can reduce the symptoms of generalized anxiety, and brain scans have shown that it increases cerebral blood flow patterns, which is indicative of lower levels of anxiety.

One of the greatest potentials CBD oil has for the treatment of substance abuse is its impact on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Many people who struggle with substance abuse disorders experience anxiety disorders like PTSD.

Many of the studies surrounding PTSD and CBD are anecdotal but still point to some potentially compelling benefits. CBD activates CB1 cannabinoid receptors, which has been known to decrease behaviors that are prompted by adverse memories. CBD also inhibits fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), an enzyme that breaks down anandamide. Anandamide is a neurotransmitter that promotes feelings of bliss and wellbeing. By making more anandamide available in the brain, CBD may help boost the mood and outlook of those suffering from PTSD. The increase in anandamide, coupled with a reduction in the response to traumatic memories, offers a great deal of potential relief for people suffering with PTSD.

CBD Oil for Opioid Withdrawal

The largest amount of research into CBD’s uses for addiction treatments has centered around the use of heroin or other opiates. Given North America is currently facing a massive opioid crisis, this area of focus is not surprising.

In one placebo study, heroin addicts were given a single dose of CBD oil for 3 days in a row. The strength of their cravings was then tested through exposure to opioid-related and neutral videos 1 hour, 24 hours, and 7 days after the CBD was administered. When compared to the placebo group, the participants who were given CBD found their cravings were significantly reduced even after 7 days.

The researchers also found that CBD reduced anxiety linked to opioid cravings in the heroin users, targeting the potential for relapse at its source. The study reads, “These preliminary pilot human study findings support the preclinical evidence and clinical studies that have evaluated anxiety, suggesting a potential therapeutic efficacy of CBD to reduce negative states in opioid-dependent individuals, which may, in turn, predict reduced craving and hence reduce the likelihood of relapse behavior.”

Again, more research about CBD oil’s potential for the treatment of opioid addiction is needed, but perhaps the strongest arguments for its use can be found in some of the other benefits cannabidiol can provide.

Most prescribed pain relievers are opiates and their potential for habit-forming behaviors and addictions are high. CBD oil can help relieve chronic pain without producing the same side effects of pharmaceutical pain killers. Perhaps more importantly though, CBD has not be shown to present any risk for addiction, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has even stated, “While the number of studies is limited, the evidence from well controlled
human experimental research indicates that CBD is not associated with abuse

This, coupled with CBD oil’s ability to reduce anxiety, calm an upset stomach, and provide restful sleep can help individuals struggling through opiate withdrawal symptoms, too.

CBD Oil for Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcoholism is common in today’s society, and because alcohol is so easily and legally accessible, it is an addiction that can be hard to break out of.

Alcohol addiction decreases the number of CB1 receptors in the brain and all but wipes out the body’s natural endocannabinoids, disrupting the proper reward signals. This negative change in the presence and function of neurotransmitters can have effects that last long after one has quit drinking. CBD oil stimulates CB1 receptors, helping to restore these pathways and enabling a return to healthier cognitive and bodily functioning.

Research has even found that CBD may be able to stop some of the brain damage associated with alcoholism. In a study performed on rodents with alcohol-related neurodegeneration, CBD oil was found to help. A CBD gel was applied transdermally and lead to a 48% reduction in the neurodegeneration of the entorhinal cortex, a part of the brain responsible for memory, navigation, and the perception of time.

Once again, more research is needed but these studies are promising in terms of cannabidiol’s potential to help those with alcoholism.

How to Take CBD Oil for Addiction and Withdrawal

If you are struggling through traditional addiction treatment and want to reduce anxiety or alleviate withdrawal symptoms, CBD oil may be able to help.

Before you begin using CBD oil for substance abuse or withdrawal symptoms, it is essential that you speak to your physician. CBD oil, while generally safe, can interact with some common medications like antidepressants and those prescribed for addiction, so you will want to make sure that you are not at risk before you start.

It can be difficult to talk to your doctor about these sorts of things. Not only is there a social stigma around substance abuse, but there is also a bit of a stigma around cannabis-derived products. But, by bravely and boldly speaking up, you may be able to finally break the cycle of addiction and get the relief you deserve!

There are lots of different ways to take CBD oil for substance abuse and withdrawal symptoms. What you decide will ultimately depend on what is most comfortable and convenient for you.

With so many different CBD products available, you are sure to find one that will work for you. You may want to consider a transdermal patch, which you can apply to your skin and forget about. The effects of a transdermal CBD patch can last up to 48 hours.

CBD oil capsules and edibles are also excellent, long-lasting options. They must pass through your digestive system, so the effects don’t usually show for an hour or so. However, you’ll feel the benefits for anywhere from 4 to 6 hours.

Or, maybe you’d like the routine of taking a dropper full of CBD oil every morning or every night. CBD oil drops and tinctures will provide you with the most dosage control, making them a great option for people who are new to using CBD. The effects of CBD oil tinctures and drops typically last 2 to 4 hours, and take about 30 minutes to set in.

For the sudden onset of cravings or withdrawal symptoms, a CBD vape pen is a nice option to have. Because the cannabidiol is absorbed into your bloodstream directly through the lungs, you’ll feel the effects near instantly. However, the influence of a CBD vape typically wears off within an hour.

Be open and prepared for a little trial and error at first. Monitor how you’re feeling, mentally and physically, before and after you use CBD oil. You may find you have to try a couple of CBD products before you find the one that’s right. Your patience and efforts will pay off.

For more information on the different delivery formats, check out Beginner’s Guide to CBD Oil: How to Take CBD.

CBD Oil For Substance Abuse and Withdrawal Dosage

Unfortunately, there is no such thing a single universal dose for CBD oil. Because no two people are the same, no two people will respond to cannabidiol in the same way. Factors like weight and metabolism play a role in determining the correct dosage.

Because of this, we recommend you begin slowly and follow the recommended serving size listed with your product. If your product does not come with a recommended dosage, at CBD Oil Review we have analyzed hundreds of products and come up the following to get you started:

The CBD Oil Review Serving Standard is 25mg of CBD, taken twice daily

If you are not getting results from this amount, we recommend increasing the serving size by 25mg every 3-4 weeks until you find relief.

For more information about dosage, check out our general dosage advice here. For the most personalized advice, consider speaking with a naturopathic doctor who can suggest a treatment plan for your specific needs.

The Best CBD Oils for Substance Abuse and Withdrawal

Simply put, the best CBD oil for substance abuse and withdrawal will be the one that works best for you. To help you find this perfect product, we have a few buying tips:

  • Read the ingredients.  A quality CBD oil does not need to contain a whole lot of artificial ingredients and chemical additives. Try to find a product that contains CBD, a carrier oil like MCT oil or hemp seed oil, and terpenes or natural flavors like orange oil, mint oil, or cinnamon. If you see a long list of artificial additives, it might be best to avoid that product.
  • Check the THC content.  The CBD oil industry is not yet regulated and because of that some CBD oil products may contain more than what’s federally allowed in terms of THC content: 0.3% or less. This may be okay if you want THC and live in a state with legal access to recreational and medicinal cannabis; if you don’t, it’s best to avoid products containing THC.
  • Read the Certificates of Analysis (COAs).  Certificates of Analysis are lab reports that break down the contents of any given batch of a CBD product. Reading the COA of your chosen CBD oil product will help you determine whether the product contains THC, or harmful additives like pesticides, heavy metals, or chemicals. If you come across a CBD company that doesn’t provide Certificates of Analysis, look elsewhere.
  • Shop organic.  Whenever possible, buy CBD oil that has been sourced from organically grown hemp. This will help eliminate some of the potential toxins that could make their way into the final product.

Substance abuse and the withdrawal that accompany attempts to quit or detox can be difficult to manage. While the research around addiction is ongoing, it appears that CBD oil may hold promise in its ability to create a balance in the body, calm anxiety, and restore health and function.

If you enjoyed this article and are interested in reading more, check out:

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  2. Gustavo Gonzalez-Cuevas et al. (2018) Unique treatment potential of cannabidiol for the prevention of relapse to drug use: preclinical proof of principle - National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6098033/
  3. Joshua P. Smith et al. (2008) Anxiety and Substance Use Disorders: A Review - National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2904966/
  4. Raquel Linge et al. (2015) Cannabidiol induces rapid-acting antidepressant-like effects and enhances cortical 5-HT/glutamate neurotransmission: role of 5-HT1A receptors - National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26711860/
  5. José Alexandre S Crippa et al. (2010) Neural basis of anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in generalized social anxiety disorder: a preliminary report - National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20829306/
  6. Megan E. Tipps et al. (2013) Substance abuse, memory, and post-traumatic stress disorder - National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4051833/
  7. Ilona Shishko et al. (2018) A review of medical marijuana for the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder: Real symptom re-leaf or just high hopes? - National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6007739/
  8. National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=18706790
  9. FAAH fatty acid amide hydrolase [ Homo sapiens (human) ] - National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/gene/2166
  10. Anandamide - National Library of Medicine https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Anandamide
  11. Rafael M. Bitencourt et al. (2018) Cannabidiol as a Therapeutic Alternative for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder: From Bench Research to Confirmation in Human Trials - Frontiers Media S.A. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnins.2018.00502/full
  12. Yasmin L. Hurd et al. (2015) Early Phase in the Development of Cannabidiol as a Treatment for Addiction: Opioid Relapse Takes Initial Center Stage - National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4604178/
  13. Cannabidiol (CBD) - World Health Organization https://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/CannabidiolCriticalReview.pdf
  14. Jenny Ceccarini et al. Changes in cerebral CB1 receptor availability after acute and chronic alcohol abuse and monitored abstinence - National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24553924/
  15. Basalingappa L Hungund et al. Role of endocannabinoids and cannabinoid CB1 receptors in alcohol-related behaviors - National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15542757/
  16. Daniel J Liput et al. (2013) Transdermal delivery of cannabidiol attenuates binge alcohol-induced neurodegeneration in a rodent model of an alcohol use disorder - National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24012796/

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