It seems that every day, someone comes up with a new claim about the health benefits of cannabidiol (CBD). While many of these claims may just be byproducts of the enthusiasm surrounding medical cannabis legalization, there are a good number of other claims that are backed up with solid scientific evidence. One such claim is the supposed benefits of CBD for helping with substance use disorder (SUD).
According to Boston Drug Treatment Centers, a rehab directory based in New England, a growing number of addiction treatment professionals are recommending medical cannabis for addiction recovery. Though not all mental health professionals are necessarily endorsing cannabis in general for this application, products that primarily contain CBD are becoming more widely accepted as a supplemental SUD intervention.
THC isn’t the only chemical compound in cannabis that has shown promise. CBD is another naturally occurring chemical found in the cannabis plant that offers many of the benefits of THC without the psychoactive effects.
How Does CBD Help In Addiction Recovery?
Recent research suggests CBD-based interventions may be useful in SUD treatment. Here are some of the ways CBD may help recovering individuals:
1.) Eases Anxiety Symptoms
Anxiety management is important though often overlooked part of SUD recovery. While many mental health conditions are linked to SUD, anxiety is among the ones that co-occur the most frequently.
Many people with anxiety disorders often develop a drug or alcohol habit in an attempt to reduce symptoms. Likewise, anxiety may also result from some kinds of substance misuse. Additionally, people undergoing withdrawals may also experience strong feelings of anxiety. Regardless of its relationship with the SUD, untreated anxiety can increase the risk of relapse.
CBD has multiple studies demonstrating its anxiolytic effects. As it is nonaddictive, it is potentially an ideal replacement in SUD recovery for habit-forming anxiety medications.
2.) Improves Sleep Quality
Many people with SUD often experience abnormal sleep patterns, as many commonly misused substances have a direct impact on the duration and quality of sleep. Common comorbidities with SUD like depression, trauma, and anxiety also have deleterious effects on sleep. Unfortunately, abnormal sleep patterns can make it difficult to regulate emotions, which can sometimes make it more difficult to stay sober.
CBD has shown plenty of promise in helping improve sleep patterns in people recovering from SUD. This can greatly improve their overall post-recovery mood and make it easier to avoid a relapse.
3.) May Reduce Cravings for Other Substances
Initial studies have shown CBD can reduce opioid cravings and possibly cravings for other substances as well. This may be tied to its anxiolytic and stress-reducing effects.
Because the loss of cravings is likely a result of stress and anxiety reduction, CBD is likely effective on patients recovering from other types of drug use as well.
4.) Reduces Withdrawal Pains
Withdrawal pains are hard to describe to people who have not experienced them. Suffice to say, they can be a serious factor in derailing attempts at sobriety. In fact, the initial SUD treatment process is often centered around just reducing the suffering of patients undergoing withdrawal. How well this process goes will often impact the rest of the recovery process.
One study shows that CBD has promise in reducing withdrawal pains in people with alcohol use disorder. Though further studies need to be done to see if it affects other types of SUD, the potential ability of CBD to simultaneously reduce cravings and withdrawal pains may be a game-changer in the field of addiction treatment.
Is CBD Right for You?
We should be wary about anything that seems too good to be true. However, the science seems to suggest that CBD-based interventions may be the way forward, not just for treating existing cases of substance use disorder, but also for preventing them, as well.
Arthur Piccio is currently the Managing Editor at Boston Drug Treatment Centers, a directory service that connects people with substance rehab centers in the New England area.