An American Crisis: Can CBD Help Battle Addiction?
Addiction is a topic that many people can relate to, chances are you can too. Whether or not you know it, I bet you are addicted to something. Addictions can be healthy or unhealthy depending on the addiction. Many times, we think of alcoholism, nicotine, opioids, cocaine, and other harsh drugs when we hear the word addiction. Often, we forget about sugar and food addiction, caffeine addiction, exercise addiction, social media addiction, sex addiction, videogame addiction, pornography, shopping, and other less recognized addictions that many people have.
Sadly, many people who face addiction tend to suffer from other conditions as well. These conditions include anxiety, depression, insomnia, chronic pain, PTSD, and many more. You can see how quickly this spirals out of control. If you have not read our blogs on the topics above, please do. You will soon realize how everything is connected.
Addiction is not as uncommon as one may think: 1
1) In 2017 according to The National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 19.7 million American adults battled a substance use disorder.
2) In 2017, 8.5 million Americans suffered from both a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder.
3) Drug abuse and addiction cost Americans more than $740 billion annually in lost workplace wages, healthcare expenses, and crime.
4) Among the top addictive substances are heroin, prescription drugs (pain killers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives), Marijuana, and alcohol.
What about the nonlethal “drugs”: 3
1) Caffeine is consumed by about 90% of Americans with more than half of the US population consuming over 300mg (3 cups of strong coffee) a day. Caffeine is America's favorite drug. Caffeine is the most widely used drug in the world.2
2) Nicotine is one of the most common addictions in America. 50 million people suffer from nicotine addiction, and this number is on the rise. Think about the easy access kids now have to electronic cigarettes. The cost of nicotine is estimated to be $193 billion a year.3
3) It is estimated that 201+ million people around the world are addicted to social media, a number that is rapidly growing.
What is addiction:3
It is essential to understand that addiction changes a person's brain in fundamental ways. Addiction replaces a person's needs and desires with one priority, getting their hands on the "drug" or addiction. Addiction is defined as a chronic disease of the brain reward system impacting motivation, memory, and other brain-related circuitry.
Addiction is characterized by the inability to abstain consistently, impulse control issues, cravings, diminished recognition of problems, and a dysfunctional emotional response.
Addiction effects a portion of our midbrain called the mesencephalon. This area of our brain is associated with our pleasure and reward centers. If we experience something rewarding (such as an addictive substance) neurons are activated, and dopamine (that feel good hormone) begins to rise. Dopamine is the brains "reward" and encourages positive reinforcement. It only makes sense that activities or drugs that increase dopamine lead to addiction.
Let’s go a step further, once an addictive habit is reinforced the hippocampus (part of the brain involved with memory), etches the immediate feeling of satisfaction into memory. Long term the brains response to the constant surge of dopamine is to downregulate the dopamine receptors or produce less dopamine. When this occurs, the addicted person now needs more of the "drug." 4
Memory consolidation is why someone can become addicted to smoking, even though "it tastes bad" and "smells." The brain knows one thing (so do the tobacco companies) nicotine leads to more dopamine release, and the brain won't stop till it gets that release, especially if the habit has been reinforced over and over. Our primary food companies, Starbucks, Pepsi Cola, cell phone manufactures, E-cigarette makers all know the science of addiction well.
To make matters even worse, some people may experience symptoms (cravings, anxiety, irritability, sweating, and heart palpitations) of addiction years after ceasing the behavior. 4This is a result of the neurotransmitter glutamate found in the hippocampus part of our brains. If a memory or situation triggers a craving glutamate is released.4 Glutamate results in symptoms described above. This release of glutamate and symptom reoccurrence usually ends in relapse. This is why quitting is no joke.
Factors that predispose one to addiction:1
- Genetics play a significant role in addiction. This includes the impact of one's environment on gene expression. Genetics accounts for about 40%-60% of a person's risk.
- A chaotic home environment, abuse, parental drug use, peer influences, community environment, mental illness.
- Teens with mental illness are at a high-risk, including anxiety and depression.
Preclinical data shows CBD may help with addiction. Continue reading below to learn how.4,5
If you have not read our previous post on anxiety and sleep, I recommend you do so. Both anxiety and sleep have a considerable impact on addiction. According to the literature found in CBD What You Need To Know, CBD has already been used and shown to be effective in helping manage addiction.
1) CBD has been shown to reduce cue-induced cravings. An example would be craving a smoke every time one has a cup of coffee.4 The cue that triggered the craving was the coffee. CBD modifies our memories and our response to those memories.4 What if you quite literally “forgot” you enjoyed smoking while drinking coffee??
2) Various animal studies have shown that CBD has helped to lessen withdraw symptoms.4,5 CBD decreases stress vulnerability. Many people relapse under stressful events or situations. CBD has been shown to decrease this stress response.
3) CBD has been shown to improve cognitive impairment and improve performance in addiction models.
4) CBD has been shown to act as an anti-depressant and decrease impulsive behavior in rodents.
5) CBD has been shown to reduce cigarette smoking by 40%
6) CBD is helpful in those with cannabis/ THC cravings
7) In a recent study, heroin addicts were given CBD while quitting. Upon being exposed to "triggers," those using CBD reported lessened cravings, an effect that lasted seven days post-CBD treatment.
Think about addiction. Most people who suffer from addiction have pain, anxiety, and depression. Pain, anxiety, and depression all increase while quitting most addictions. CBD has shown therapeutic benefit for anxiety, depression, and pain. Have you ever failed to quit an addiction because you gave into the above symptoms to make the symptoms stop? How could you afford not to use CBD if you are struggling with addiction?
In short, CBD turns down the volume on the brains reward center. CBD "rewires" your brains' reward and pleasure center for the better. I describe quitting with CBD as follows, "imagine forgetting you were addicted in the first place." What if you just forgot? What if the pleasure you associated with your addiction greatly diminished? Would quitting become easier? OF COURSE, IT WOULD.
To sum it all up, CBD has been shown to positively impact several relapse promoting factors, sensitivity to addiction-related content, stress response, impulse control response, and anxiety. CBD has also been shown to have long-lasting effects even after ceasing its usage. Mice addicted to cocaine and alcohol showed benefit for up to 5 months post-CBD treatment.
Like all CBD dosage recommendations start slow. 10-400mg daily should do the trick. Start with 5mg a day and increase as needed. Pay very close attention to cravings and symptoms. Once you see a reduction in symptoms/ cravings maintain that dosage.
Although I am not a fan of vape pens for some a CBD vape may be necessary when managing stronger craving episodes as a breakthrough supplement. The vape would be in conjunction with daily CBD BioCare usage.
CBD & Lifestyle factors:
You should always speak with your physician when discussing addiction. Some addictions, especially alcohol, can result in death due to withdrawal health complications.
Addiction is a severe disease. DO NOT GO AT IT ALONE, read that again, do not go at it alone. Yes, CBD is something I would highly recommend considering using, but more importantly, have a plan in place. Who are you going to call when the cravings and withdrawal symptoms set in? Have you identified what your triggers are? How are you going to avoid these triggers? What healthy habits do you have in place to naturally increase your bodies dopamine and glutamate? What have you done mentally to build up and continually support your frame of mind "I am quitting and never going back"? If you can’t answer the above questions, I have left some tips for you below.
Tips #1) Seek a therapist. Even if it’s talk therapy. Better help is an exceptional online therapy service. They do not offer services specific to addiction but having easy access to a therapist is always advised in my offices.
Tip#2) Lean in extreme detail the health risks associated with the addiction. The more you know, the more compelled you will be quit. I would also encourage people to watch Ted Talks on YouTube surrounding the topic of addiction.
Tip#3) Have a support group/ community that you can rely on for help during the quitting process.
Tip#4) Learn how to identify your triggers and do your best to avoid them. For example, if you always need a cigarette with a cup of coffee, maybe consider backing off the coffee as well.
Tip#5) Expect withdrawal symptoms. Know the signs of withdrawal and be prepared to deal with them accordingly.
Tip#6) Be ready to replace the old addiction with a new healthy addiction, such as exercise (in moderation).
Tip#7) Take a close look at your nutrition. Yes, even for addiction, eating a more balanced diet helps. Your gut has a strong connection with your brain, and many of the neurotransmitters involved with addiction.
Tip#8) Follow up on self-help books, seminars, and other things to keep yourself accountable long term. Some addictions never entirely go away.
I would recommend by starting with the book Brain over Binge. The focus of this book is binge eating addictions but, in my opinion, can apply to any addiction. Replace the word binge eating with whatever addiction you are dealing with. This book also teaches tools to cope with cravings.
The Power of Habit is another book well worth reading. Developing new habits is crucial for overcoming addiction.
Why CBD BioCare:
When it comes to choosing the right CBD oil quality matters. CBD BioCare provides organically grown, domestically grown, third-party tested, CO2 extracted, medicinal grade, full spectrum CBD oil products, and lines. The company goes above and beyond to educate the consumer while remaining transparent as possible with their clients.
I use CBD BioCare products with my patients, friends, family, and myself. Having sold supplements for 9+ years before becoming a chiropractic and functional medicine physician, I know a thing or two about product quality and integrity.
Choosing a CBD oil product can be confusing for patients, doctors, and consumers. If you want to make life a little less stressful, choose CBD BioCare today!
*This content is strictly the opinion of Dr. Frank Michalski and is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. All viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Frank Michalski nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.
2) Striley CL, Griffiths RR, Cottler LB. Evaluating Dependence Criteria for Caffeine. J Caffeine Res. 2011;1(4):219–225. doi:10.1089/jcr.2011.0029
4) CBD What you Need to Know by Gregory L. Smith, MD, MPH
5) Gonzalez-Cuevas G, Martin-Fardon R, Kerr TM, et al. Unique treatment potential of cannabidiol for the prevention of relapse to drug use: preclinical proof of principle. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2018;43(10):2036–2045. doi:10.1038/s41386-018-0050-8