The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) estimates that 17.6 million Americans suffer from some degree of alcohol abuse. That’s about 1 in every 12 adults.
What’s perhaps even scarier than these numbers are the health risks that can arise for those trying to curb their addiction. The CDC attributes over 88,000 deaths each year to complications from alcohol withdrawal. It states that several hundred thousand more are left dealing with serious side effects such as seizures, hallucinations, anxiety, and severe nausea, just to name a few.
Considering new research, many are wondering if there may be some relief in the form of CBD for alcoholism. For years it was thought that whole-plant cannabis (i.e. smoking marijuana) held therapeutic measures regarding addiction treatment. But recent studies have shown that one cannabinoid in particular – CBD – plays a crucial role.
CBD is a way to consume cannabis without the high, so to speak. It provides all the medical and therapeutic benefits of cannabis, without the potentially unwanted intoxication.
What Is Alcoholism?
Alcoholism is the full-blown manifestation of alcohol abuse; the American Society of Addiction Medicine defines it as a “primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors [that influence] its development.”
The disease is characterized by any one or more of the following symptoms:
- Preoccupation with alcohol as a drug
- Habitual inability to control drinking levels
- Distortion in cognitive processes regarding consumption (i.e. denial)
- Continued abuse of alcohol despite adverse consequences
Additionally, alcoholics develop a complete reliance on the drug, in which case their day to day lives become unmanageable without drinking.
Once the physiological effects of full-blown alcoholism manifest in an individual, quitting the drug can present an array of serious biological and emotional side effects.
The exact symptoms of alcohol withdrawal vary significantly from individual to individual. Most commonly, victims experience a general sense of nervousness, insomnia/restlessness, anxiety, nausea, and irritability. In more advanced stages, increased heart rate, tremors, seizures, disorientation, and even hallucinations can arise. Of course, any of these symptoms may warrant the seeking of professional medical attention. Over a longer-term scale, chronic diseases such as cirrhosis, alcoholic hepatitis, and liver disease may develop in severe abusers, in addition to the onset of various forms of cancer and kidney disease.
As far as treatment, one of the most common and effective measures is admission into a detox center. In these facilities, victims receive all the levels of support – both emotionally and medically – that are needed to make the successful transition to an alcohol-free life. In terms of medical support, doctors often prescribe drugs to help with the onset of anxiety, pain, nausea, and loss of appetite. Due to financial, personal, or professional reasons, though, many people find treatment facilities to be impractical. This is one of the reasons why CBD oil for alcoholism is on the minds of so many; it’s far cheaper than prescription medications and/or admittance into a treatment facility. It also allows individuals to largely self-medicate with a specific oil that is appropriate for them and their unique condition.
CBD Oil for Alcoholism
To understand how cannabidiol (CBD) works to alleviate the effects of addiction and subsequent withdrawal, we need to understand how alcohol functions to develop neurological reliance.
In simple terms, alcohol addiction affects the neurotransmission capabilities of reward structures in the brain. In healthy individuals, these structures play a functional role in implementing normal self-care behavior; that is, if we’re unhappy or unsatisfied, they let us know that a behavioral change is probably necessary.
In the case of those suffering from alcoholism, the consumption of alcohol entirely bypasses this requisite behavioral change. It overrides the brain’s reward structures in order to supplant the desired feelings of happiness and satisfaction.
What’s interesting about all of this as it relates to cannabis is that these reward structures in the brain – the amygdala, basal forebrain, etc are home to a significant density of CB1 receptors (receptors which CBD interacts with). These receptors play a crucial functional role in, amongst other things, helping to implement feelings of reward, satisfaction, and overall well-being.
What effect does the consumption of alcohol have on the abundance and availability of CB-1 receptors in the brain? Not a good one, as it turns out.
One 2014 study measured the abundance of CB1 receptors in abusive and non-abusive drinkers, they found a greatly diminished prevalence of CB1 receptors in abusive drinkers, even after prolonged periods of abstinence. This contrasted sharply with a healthy presence of the receptor among social non-abusive drinkers after the same period of abstinence.
This means that consuming alcohol directly bypasses the normal physiological mechanisms responsible for reward behavior; that is, it supplants the natural functional role of endocannabinoids regarding their ability to communicate with the brain’s reward structures.
From a physiological standpoint, one of the hardest parts of giving up alcohol is the fact that, without the adequate presence of endocannabinoids, the body is lacking some of its natural mechanism to cope with everyday things like stress and anxiety.
However, this is when the therapeutic effects come into play. CBD acts as a natural replenishment to the body’s supply of endocannabinoids, which may be depleted over the course of long-term alcohol abuse and reliance.
CBD can also help diminish withdrawal symptoms such as:
Final Thoughts CBD Oils for Alcoholism
So far, the findings from animal studies, point towards CBD having great promise as a potential therapy for Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). In addition to the many positive findings regarding the use of CBD in these studies, researchers have also noted that cannabidiol is well tolerated in human studies. CBD’s tolerability, coupled with the absence of abuse liability, further enhance the prospect of CBD being useful as a treatment for AUD.
Products we recommend:
Organa CBD Infused Human Tincture (30ml or 50ml)
Organa CBD Only Vape Pens