Not too long ago, we thought of drug addiction as a character flaw—people must continue using, even as the habit destroyed their lives, because they were too weak to quit on their own. Now scientists understand that drug addiction is a brain disease. Drugs—from illegal substances like cocaine and methamphetamines to legal ones such as prescription opioids and alcohol—cause physical changes in the brain that make it very, very difficult to quit. But therein lies CBD’s potential to help: The body’s endocannabinoid system is involved with the euphoric feeling that makes many drugs so addictive, so using cannabinoids to block that “reward” shows great promise as a treatment for a number of substance abuse issues. Not only that, but CBD’s anti-anxiety effect can also help treat the symptoms associated with addiction and withdrawal, also preventing relapse.
How Does CBD Help Fight Opioid Addiction?
We’re living in a full-blown opioid addiction crisis, with 2.1 million Americans abusing the drugs and more than 115 people dying every day in this country from overdose. Highly addictive opioid drugs—including prescription painkillers, heroin, and fentanyl—are devastating families and destroying entire communities. In short, opioid addiction is a critical public health threat.
Increasingly, researchers are turning to CBD for help. Studies have shown that CBD interferes with the high users get from heroin, which could reduce its draw on people with addiction and identified CBD as a helpful therapy for heroin cravings and relapse. Another study suggested CBD could help prevent relapse for all opioid addictions. Research also shows CBD is safe for people to take along with opioids as a potential therapy.
CBD and Other Kinds of Addiction
Researchers have also zeroed in on CBD to help treat other types of drug addictions, along with the brain damage that comes with drug abuse. Excessive alcohol use kills the brain’s neurons, causing cognitive and behavioral problems and likely making it much tougher to quit drinking—but a couple of studies have found that CBD actually protects the neurons from such drinking, raising its profile as a potential treatment for alcoholism. Other studies suggest CBD helps with addiction to nicotine, cocaine, and methamphetamines.