These results have many healthcare professionals questioning: Can CBD be used to curb the opioid epidemic? Experts believe that due to the limited non-opioid medication options, the need for new alternatives is more important than ever.
Because opioid addiction is challenging to study, researchers often have to look at the specific symptoms, which tend to occur in three phases: intoxication, dependence, and relapse.
“CBD may have a role in helping in all three phases, but we don’t know for sure,” said Dr. Danesh Alam, medical director of behavioral health at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital, “We have so much to learn about its [CBD] role in anxiety and addiction in general.”
CBD Oil: What Is It And How Can It Treat Opioid Addiction?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical component found in marijuana. Unlike other marijuana compounds such as THC, CBD does not get people high. Instead, CBD is known for its inhibitory response, which results in analgesic (pain relief) and anti-anxiety effects.
CBD oil is one form of a CBD product designed for oral consumption. Typically, CBD oil is added to food or drink but it can also be consumed sublingually (under the tongue). In some cases, individual may also rub CBD oil on their skin, but this is more common with CBD tinctures. Because CBD bonds with fat quite easily, oil makes a perfect transporter for the CBD compound.
Like any drug addiction, opioid addiction is a chronically relapsing disorder indicated by the compulsive desire to use opioids and loss of control over opioid consumption. When an individual abuses opioids to the point of dependency, they can alter their brain structure.
CBD is thought to modify the way damaged brain cells of addicted individuals communicate with each other. The limited number of preclinical studies suggest that CBD may have therapeutic properties not only for opioid addiction but cocaine and psychostimulant addiction, as well.
Research On CBD And Medical Marijuana As An Opioid Addiction Treatment
A recent double-blind study found that acute CBD administration, in contrast to placebo, significantly reduced both cravings for heroin and anxiety induced but the presentation of drug cues (i.e., injection needles).
Another study has shown that CBD can reduce cravings for heroin, in both rats and humans. This study also points out that CBD has a few minor side effects, making it an attractive option to treat opioid addiction.
These studies have raised questions about whether CBD’s effects could also lessen common opioid withdrawal symptoms, including continued cravings for the drug and anxiety.
Chinazo Cunningham, M.D., professor of medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System in New York City, is currently studying individuals who take opioids for chronic pain.
Cunningham hopes to determine if adding medical marijuana controls pain and reduces reliance on opioids. Additionally, she hopes to learn how THC and CBD act individually or together while associated with opioid use and pain relief.
CBD Oil: Is It Legal?
Cannabis laws differ by state. While medical marijuana may not be legal in every state, CBD oil (whether it is from marijuana or hemp) is now legal in all but three: Idaho, Nebraska, and South Dakota. All other states, including Puerto Rico and Washington D.C., have legalized CBD.
With all the hype surrounding CBD oil, many consumers are starting to wonder: Can you legally buy CBD oil online?
While the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) has not run into any cases where individuals faced legal penalties for buying CBD products online, they also note that from a federal perspective online CBD retailers could carry some legal risk as shipping CBD across states lines could violate federal law.
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These CBD products may also violate other governmental regulations, particularly from the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Examples being CBD products which claim to cure any disease, ranging from migraines to cancer, break the FDA rules saying that such statements can only be made of approved drugs.
The FDA has continually cracked down on such retailers since CBD began to gain popularity in early 2015.
Is CBD Oil Safe?
Trying to determine the quality of a CBD oil can be confusing. Some states do a better job of testing these products than others. So, how can you know that CBD products contain what they claim to?
In general, states that have legalized the recreational and medical use of cannabis typically have higher standards when it comes to CBD oils, tinctures, and vaporization liquids. Other companies may partner with third-party testing facilities to perform additional analysis which goes beyond state requirements.
It is important to remember that this is an unregulated industry, and each state will have its own vetting process. Some states require CBD products to be regulated as pharmaceutical products, while others regulated them to the standard of agricultural products.
When shopping for a CBD oil, ask to see the Certificate of Analysis, or COAs, which will show the results of any regulatory testing. If a company doesn’t provide this, then take precautions when purchasing their products, as they may contain different levels of CBD than state and other things like harmful toxins.
CBD Oil Treatment Plan For Opioid Addiction
If you are thinking about substituting CBD oil for prescription opioids, know that it might not work for everyone. While studies have reported reduced opioid cravings in a lab setting, at-home survey’s indicated some individuals continued to experience the same level of cravings once back in their previous environment.
It is never recommended to stop taking any medication without first consulting a medical professional. However, whenever replacing a prescription pain reliever with CBD oil, be sure to consult a medical professional, choose CBD products with care, and keep in mind that it may not work for everyone.