CBD To Help Against Benzo & Xanax Withdrawals and Opioid Addiction
You guessed it – we are now faced with news that CBD brings yet more benefits to our health. This time, unlike other times, it’s backed with scientific evidence to counteract other drug use.
But, what exactly are those benefits and how do they operate? Can something derived from cannabis really treat addiction? Let’s take a closer look at it.
The Benefits of CBD
Here are the basics about CBD: The letters of CBD stand for cannabidiol, a compound derived from Cannabis plants that serves many purposes for us. One of the most important attributes about CBD is that it contains no THC – tetrahydrocannabinol. That’s the bioactive compound that gives marijuana the notorious property of getting you high.
CBD doesn’t get you high, but it does provide other mental benefits. Research has shown CBD works especially well for anxiety and epilepsy, and scientists are establishing that these benefits may carry over to the fight against drug addiction.
As you probably know, the opioid crisis in the United States has reached a record high over the past decade. In the years of 2016 and 2017, more than 130 people died each day of opioid overdose. The problem is there. And it is there to be solved. This public health crisis is on a completely different level, where the wrong people are benefiting from others’ suffering.
While the benefits of CBD are relatively new in the grand scheme of things, most scientists and public health experts agree that it is a safe product. Furthermore, while CBD seems to be new to the market, our species’ interaction with Cannabis plants, and consequently CBD, goes as far back as the beginning of agriculture 12,000 years ago. So while we may just be getting introduced to more thorough scientific evidence on the products, archaeological evidence shows us that we have been co-evolving with the plant.
As a byproduct of hemp, CBD itself is a completely legal product. Federally, Cannabis with more than 0.3% THC qualifies as marijuana, but there aren’t any regulations on cannabidiol content. Therefore, you can rest assured that CBD is a completely legal medical intervention. CBD shows absolutely no addictive side effects, but not all legal medications can say the same.
The Dangers of Opioid Use
Opioid use covers everything from heroin and fentanyl to prescription painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin. Due to their similar chemical makeup, they connect with the opioid receptors in your body to reduce pain. Another side effect, however, is a sense of euphoria, and it’s easy to chase that feeling. Therefore, taking these drugs puts you at risk for addiction.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 130 people die in the United States each day from an opioid overdone, not to mention numbers around the world. With increasing access to opioid prescription, it’s become an epidemic. But opioids aren’t the only pills being abused.
Misuse of Xanax and other Benzos
Benzodiazepines, or benzos for short, are technically known as tranquilizers. Also prescription drugs, doctors prescribe Xanax and the like to combat anxiety, sleep disorders, before surgery, and, ironically, for alcohol withdrawal.
In the short-term, they can be effective solutions to stress-inducing situations. But long-term use puts one at risk of developing an addiction, as these drugs also impair function when misused. Despite good intentions, chronic use of benzos tends to induce the very problems they were prescribed to solve. Benzo addiction leads to chronic impairment, which is incredibly disruptive to one’s lifestyle, and withdrawal symptoms include severe anxiety.
Joe Rogan Discussing Opioid Withdrawals
CBD can be a solution to dealing with withdrawal symptoms
Due to recent research, medical professionals are starting to prescribe CBD for withdrawal. Epidiolex, a prescription-strength CBD treatment, has been shown to reduce anxiety and cravings in those suffering from heroin withdrawal.
Another study showed that recovering benzodiazepine addicts inside of a treatment facility experienced anxiety that far surpassed their pre-drug levels. CBD, however, is a powerful anxiolytic solution with no known side effects. A 2015 study suggests that CBD might be as effective as benzos to treat anxiety, and far less dangerous.
Obviously, coming off of any drug should be performed under close watch of a medical professional. Withdrawal symptoms, even with the help of CBD, can be dangerous in and of themselves. But if you’re struggling with opioid or benzo addiction, talk to your doctor about how CBD can help.
How CBD Stops Addiction In Its Tracks
In regards to addiction, this pathway plays an important role in substance abuse. Our dopaminergic pathways stimulate the highs (and lows) typically associated with opioid and benzo use. By playing a role in reward anticipation and assessment, it’s clear that these circuits contribute to addiction. Opioids in particular have been demonstrated to activate dopamine through the endocannabinoid system. Therefore, CBD presents a less-addictive option.
Cannabinoid receptors can modulate the strength of these reward signals, and, overtime, help reduce cravings. Many experts attribute substance abuse disorders to habitual use, as strong associations are built with the simple thought or sight of an intoxicating drug. This neuroplasticity leads to literal rewiring in the brain, making it even harder for addicts to quit. Cannabinoids have been shown to interrupt these circuits, stop the electric signaling, and redirect maladaptive behavior.
Finally, CBD interacts with your dopamine receptors to regulate motivation and emotional learning. In high enough doses, it’s been shown to activate serotonin receptors, provoking a feeling of happiness to replace the high addicts have come to expect. CBD alters the shape of these many receptors reduce depression, form new memory associations, and promote reward reinforcement.
Prescription medication abuse pervades national and international health crises. Overall, CBD offers a promising new treatment for addiction to benzodiazepines and opioids. As more research emerges, we’ll understand all of the implications that come with taking these products to alter the underlying mechanisms of dangerous drug use. For now, there’s evidence that it can ease the transition to sobriety, and potentially stop addiction before it gets any worse.
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Too many good people die from drug overdose, and addicts need all of the help we can offer. Thanks to CBD, there might finally be a safe, natural alternative to treating anxiety and pain, as well as undoing the consequences of substance abuse.
Jessica Rosslee is a former journalist that has dedicated her writing skills and passion for communication to the cannabis industry. Jessica has spent her life in the field of wellness and communication, committed to allowing people access to accurate health and wellness information.
As a freelance cannabis writer, Jessica is passionate about free-flowing education for the public and the destigmatization of cannabis.