Does Cannabis Help With Alcohol Withdrawal - What About Opioids?

May 05, 21

Does Cannabis Help With Alcohol Withdrawal - What About Opioids?

The endocannabinoid system is responsible for regulating the body’s response to reward and stress, which underscores its role in drug abuse and addiction. [1] A fractional amount of preclinical evidence and human case reports shows that cannabinoids could be of value in the treatment of aspects of opioid, alcohol, and cannabis dependency, and possibly tobacco and stimulant abuse. Cannabidiol (CBD) seems to hold the most promise for its use in addiction medicine, and unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), has no abuse or dependency potential. [2] 

Using cannabis can lead to dependency in chronic heavy users. Non-intoxicating cannabinoids, such as CBD, interfere with the brain mechanisms of addiction, which could lead to potential beneficial treatment protocols.

Cannabinoids: Effective in Addiction

A fast growing body of preclinical evidence is proving that cannabinoids interfere with some fundamental neural mechanisms underlying drug-use reward, drug-seeking and compulsive behaviors, and anxiety related to both addiction and relapse. THC can bring a reduction in the amount of opioid needed to treat pain, which could be valuable in reducing both opioid dependency and overdoses. [3] A recent research paper argued that CBD could play a large and important role in fighting opioid addiction. [4] For more information, see our article on CBD for Addiction, and Hemp for Addiction and Withdrawal.

The Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) clearly is responsible for maintaining order and balance across all bodily systems, including the reward circuitry in the brain linked to drug addiction, but the ECS also plays a key role in the plasticity of the brain, which enables the brain to rewire itself and recover. Eliot Gardner, a highly respected researcher at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has put together an outstanding review of the endocannabinoid system’s role in drug dependency, focusing on its modulation of dopamine. [5] For more information, read The Endocannabinoid System Explained.

In animal studies, cannabidiol (CBD) has a very long-lasting effect in suppressing heroin-related memory cues that encourage relapse, which could translate to the use of CBD to assist in reducing the nagging memories and cues that lead to relapse in recovering opioid addicts. CBD’s ability to suppress behavioral cues associated with drug use likely stem from its ability to restore dysregulated tone in the mesolimbic regions of the brain impacted by opioid addiction. [6] As pointed out in research from 2017, there’s stronger evidence for CBD impairing drug memory reconsolidation than for enhancing the extinction of drug memories. [7] For more information, see our article on CBD for PTSD.

Does Cannabis Help With Alcohol Withdrawal

CBD for Addiction & Withdrawal

According to preclinical animal and human research outlined in Prud’homme 2014 review previously cited, CBD and, occasionally, THC may impact one or more phases of addiction behaviors: the positive rewards and rituals of the intoxication phase, the physical and psychological aspects of the withdrawal phase, and the cravings and risk of drug-seeking behaviors in the relapse phase. In animal models, CBD effects the intoxication and relapse phase of opioid addiction.

In stimulant addictions, cannabidiol could assist in avoiding relapse, which may be enhanced by adding the terpene beta-caryophyllene, which has been shown to reduce self-administration of cocaine, while improving depression and reducing anxiety, as noted in different animal studies. [8] [9] [10] [11]

In human studies of cannabis use disorder, cannabidiol (CBD) produced positive outcomes in the withdrawal, intoxication, and relapse phases. Eventually, there could be ample evidence to support, including CBD buffers in cannabis and cannabis medicines that contain THC, to reduce the likelihood of cannabis use disorder. CBD has been demonstrated to reduce the number of cigarettes smoked in tobacco dependency.

DRUG ADDICTION: A NEW DEFINITION

A renowned speaker, and bestselling author, Dr. Gabor Maté is highly sought after for his expertise on a range of topics including addiction, stress and childhood development. Dr Maté states that, "addiction is manifested in any behavior that a person craves, finds temporary relief or pleasure in but suffers negative consequences as a result of, and yet has difficulty giving up. In brief: craving, relief, pleasure, suffering, impaired control. Note that this definition is not restricted to drugs but could encompass almost any human behavior, from sex to eating to shopping to gambling to extreme sports to TV to compulsive internet use: the list is endless."

“I’m not going to ask you what you were addicted to,” I often say to people, “nor when, nor for how long. Only, whatever your addictive focus, what did it offer you? What did you like about it? What, in the short term, did it give you that you craved or liked so much?” And universally, the answers are: “It helped me escape emotional pain… helped me deal with stress… gave me peace of mind… a sense of connection with others… a sense of control.”

You can learn more about Dr Gabor Maté, his books, and work, through this link to an article titled, Opioids and Universal Experience of Addiction.

Disclaimer: the new information contained in this treatment report relating to alcoholism and alcohol addiction including alcohol abuse is intended to be used for informational purposes only. If you feel experience ongoing problems relating to drugs, drink driving, drinking, and have a family medical history of addiction, it is recommended that prior to making changes to your treatment plan or lifestyle, that you seek the advice and guidance from a medical professional for your withdrawal symptoms or any other alcoholic related issues. People who consider themselves alcoholics are advised to seek free or paid help if they experience withdrawal symptoms from drinking cessation, prior to starting any medical marijuana use.

cannabis for addiction treatment

Best Cannabis Dose for Addiction

The dosage of THC to reduce opioid use for pain is outlined as follows. Taking cannabinoids orally requires some patience or planning to achieve consistent relief as swallowed medicines typically take 45 minutes to 1 hour to be felt. Having said that, oral cannabis may be more useful for treating chronic pain conditions, which do not benefit from the rapid spike in blood-serum cannabinoids that occurs with smoked or vaporized cannabis. Use oral cannabis containing both THC and CBD. CBD prolongs the effects of THC while reducing some of its side effects, including anxiety and rapid heartbeat. Take 2.5 to 7.5 mg THC orally, every three to four hours, to manage low level to moderate pain. The addition of 2.5 of 10 mg of CBD to the THC dose can reduce the intensity of THC psychoactivity while providing a measure of neuroprotection.

Remember that cannabis dosage has a “sweet spot” for pain relief, so caution must be observed to avoid overmedication to avoid exceeding the optimal dose for relief. CBD buffers ranging from 30 to 50 percent of the THC dose, may slow or avoid problem cannabis use associated with high-THC cannabis products. For more information, see our article on CBD for Pain.

Best strains for drug addiction

High-CBD strains with lower myrcene, but higher beta-caryophyllene, such as Cookies are more appropriate for assisting with intoxication, withdrawal, and relapse phases. For more information, see our Ultimate Guide to Terpenes.

For more information, see our articles:

CBD for Addiction

Hemp for Addiction and Withdrawal

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1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27618739/
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4444130/
3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10215664/
4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28162799/
5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15936806/
6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2829756/
7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28268256/
8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28826544/
9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24930711/
10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18286196/
11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3164946/

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