Lately, it seems like you can’t go a single day without hearing about cannabidiol – more commonly known as CBD – the non psychoactive component of cannabis plants.
People point out how it doesn’t get you high like THC while it still provides you with so many potential health benefits from falling asleep faster, coping with stress, or using it as an anti-inflammatory to help reduce pain.
But now the greatest benefit of all is that people are saying it can potentially help those suffering from crippling opioid addiction.
This article addresses this specific issue and will help you decide if using CBD is the best way to help yourself ease off opioids.
For those who don’t know what CBD is, here’s a bit of a primer. It is extracted from cannabis plants – marijuana or hemp – and then put into various products including tinctures, oils, and creams. (3)
There are 2 different main types of CBD:
- CBD Isolate – This type is considered more pure with no THC or terpenes.
- Full Spectrum CBD – This type also has THC and terpenes in it, and can provide a slight high or what is known as “the entourage” effect. This is more commonly found in marijuana dispensaries.
Both types can come from either marijuana or hemp, but most retailers sell CBD made from hemp due to its considerably lower THC content as it must be below .3% THC in order to be legally not classified as a drug.
How Can CBD Help Overcome Addiction?
CBD has shown to have anti-inflammatory properties that can help ease pain. Similarly, doctors believe CBD interacts with certain receptors throughout the brain and body – known as the endocannabinoid system – to help reduce pain as well as improve sleep and appetite.
With more research becoming available, doctors are starting to suggest to their patients that they may want to try using CBD to wean off of opioids. So far, the results have been promising. (1)
Real Life Example
For example, Nika C. Beamon of New York has a rare autoimmune disease that has caused her severe pain, leading her to take opioids in order to get through her day to day. She tried getting off them after a while, but the withdrawals were too painful for her. Finally, her doctor suggested she consider trying CBD oil.
After taking his suggestion of a few drops a day, she has a new lease on life. She feels better during the day and is able to sleep through the night without waking up in agonizing pain. She is now no longer relying on opioids to help her manage her pain. (1)
There are more and more examples like Nika popping up all over the country, especially in states where cannabis products have become legalized either for medicinal or recreational use.
In fact, in those states, the numbers of filled opioid prescriptions have dropped significantly. On top of that, those states have also seen a sizable decrease in opioid overdoses compared to states where cannabis has not been legalized. While these decreases could be due to a variety of other factors, doctors do find the link between legalized cannabis and opioid addiction to be pretty significant and worth looking deeper into. (1)
Some doctors believe that CBD is so beneficial to those suffering from addiction because it helps brain cells that were once damaged by opioids heal and communicate better. This helps reduce common withdrawal symptoms like cravings and anxiety. As patients become less anxious, they will also find less of a need to take drugs in order to feel better.
There is still more research to be done on how exactly CBD is helping with addiction, but doctors are happy that it is leading to positive results. (1)
Safety and Side Effects of CBD
CBD has been found to have considerably limited side effects. The most prominent side effects are:
- and changes in appetite.
However, being that CBD is also used to help people sleep, it can’t really be looked as a side effect but more of a benefit once it helps being well rested. This, in turn, leads to more alertness and the ability to focus after a good night’s sleep.
Also, some tests have shown that CBD may counteract with other medications. Thus, if you are on any prescriptions, you should consult a physician before taking CBD. (2)
Despite the limited side effects, there are other precautions that one should make prior to purchasing CBD. For example, when purchasing online, you should be checking labels to make sure what you’re buying is what’s actually being promoted. Sometimes a website can be advertising one product with a ton of great benefits, only for them to send you something that doesn’t contain what was being advertised.
Also, as CBD manufacturers aren’t obligated to test their product, you should look to purchase from a company that does in fact hire 3rd parties to test the purity of the product; this way you will have a better idea of what you are actually purchasing.
Making a Plan to Wean Off Opioids
If you are considering using CBD in order to get off opioids, be sure to discuss the best plan of action with your doctor. If you currently are prescribed considerably strong medications, you are going to want to make sure that you are careful about how you go about transitioning off of your meds and onto CBD.
Your physician will likely recommend taking things slowly at first, perhaps adding a little bit of CBD into your daily routine while taking less of your current prescription. This way you will be able to better manage potential withdrawal symptoms. You should also ask your doctor if he has a recommendation on which form to take CBD.
You should test out which form of CBD is best for you. Many people recommend tinctures these days, as they are fast acting and can be absorbed right into your bloodstream after taking a few drops under the tongue. While many people do like CBD tinctures, some prefer inhaling it via a vapor pen, getting it in edible form, or even using a cream that can be rubbed and massaged into sore areas, like your hands or back. It all comes down to what works well for you. (3)