While many studies have shown that cannabidiol (CBD), one of the non-psychotropic components of cannabis, can help with a wide range of disorders, we’re just now doing research on how CBD hemp oil can help with addiction. Some studies have shown that CBD makes smokers more likely to quit, and CBD oil therapy can even ease withdrawal from stimulant drugs like cocaine. But there’s another type of drug addiction that CBD oil can help with: opioids like heroin, Oxycodone, and Fentanyl.
Because there are a growing number of opioid addicts in the U.S., it’s beneficial to look into how exactly CBD, CBN, and other cannabinoids can actually help the brain recover from opioid addiction specifically. Some studies have shown that recovering addicts who use CBD hemp oil or medical cannabis have increased appetite, reduced pain, and reduced anxiety. But newer studies are looking how the receptors in our brain that take opioid molecules react to CBD and other cannabinoids.
Let’s look at the current research about CBD hemp oil and morphine addiction and learn more about how hemp oil can help ease recovery for opioid addicts by actually changing their brains!
Precipitated Opioid Withdrawal and CBD
Precipitated withdrawal is when another chemical replaces morphine in receptors in the brain that are used to taking in opioid molecules. There are several proven drugs called opiate agonists that have been given to addicts for years. The most well known is methadone, but newer opiate agonists like naloxone or suboxone are entering the market. With more research and testing over the next few years, cannabinoids will probably join these drugs prescribed to opioid addicts.
Recent research has shown that cannabidiol is useful for precipitated opioid withdrawal. This UK study showed that CBD has the same effect. Let’s break down how that works. Your brain has receptors that take in the molecules of drugs like morphine, and this triggers your brain to release hormones and other chemicals that make you “high.” With heroin, these receptors get used to having the drug, and it causes major imbalances when the addict stops using, also known as withdrawal symptoms. When you slow down or precipitate withdrawal with other substances like methadone or CBD, you help ease this slow withdrawal process. CBD hemp oil treatment for addiction not only helps the brain recover, but can also ease withdrawal symptoms directly.
Opioid withdrawal symptoms can include seizures, lack of appetite, anxiety, sleeplessness, and other issues. Cannabinoids have long been proven to help these exact symptoms with AIDS patients in studies going back years, so there is good reason for scientists to think that hemp oil treatments can help with opioid withdrawal symptoms.
CBD Reduces Drug Seeking Behavior
While cannabinoids have been proven to help with withdrawal symptoms, they can also help addicts stay away from opioids while they’re in recovery because of those changes CBD makes to the opioid receptors in the brain. This study showed that CBD hemp oil treatments made morphine addicted rats less likely to seek the drug when it was offered. But how does this work? It’s just another way CBD works inside your brain. When you replace those opioid molecules with cannabidiol, you train your brain to use CBD instead of the drug. This changes the neural pathways, which in turn changes an addict’s behavior. Basically, those reduced cravings result in reduced drug seeking.
In addition to the effects it has on neural pathways, CBD can also reduce the urge to go get opioid drugs by reducing anxiety. When addicts don’t feel the same feelings of anxiety about their drug use, they can make better choices, avoid people and places associated with their drug use, and even help prevent relapse. Also, addicts don’t turn to serious drugs like heroin without having some underlying psychological issue. CBD hemp oil has been proven to treat some mental health issues like anxiety and PTSD symptoms. When heroin addicts take CBD oil, they can also help heal the underlying psychological wounds that led them to seek drugs in the first place. Many addiction specialists agree that this is an important part of long term recovery from drug addiction.
CBD Hemp Oil Makes Opioids Less Powerful
We’ve talked about how CBD can fill opioid receptors and slowly change an addict’s brain, but cannabinoids can also help even if an addict relapses and takes the drug again. While cannabinoids can change neural pathways to make them less likely to seek the drug, relapse is always an option. But CBD hemp oil therapy can help blunt the effects of opioid drugs in the brain if taken at the same time.
The proof? Another research study on morphine-addicted rats showed that cannabidiol made opioid use less rewarding. How does this work? Since the brain has been trained to use CBD instead of morphine to fill those receptors, less of the drug gets into the receptors if an addict does relapse during CBD hemp oil therapy.
Basically, what happens is that the receptors have already been filled by cannabinoids, and when the morphine molecules try to fit in, they can’t. So they bounce back and float around in the blood instead of flooding the brain with those feel-good signals that the addict craves. This means that the addict has a reduced “high,” which makes them less likely to relapse again. In short, CBD hemp oil helps break the cycle of addiction by making opioid drugs less powerful if an addict does relapse.
The Future of CBD and Addiction Research
Much more research is needed to fully understand how cannabidiol can help opioid addicts. We’ve already seen these specific actions in the brain that can bring relief from withdrawals and relapse, but most of these studies are incomplete. There needs to be deregulation on hemp so that scientists can fully study the benefits of cannabinoids as a treatment for addiction. With the growing crisis of opioid addiction in the US, we need as many options for helping addicts as possible. Could CBD hemp oil be the future of addiction therapy? Only more research can tell us.