Addiction is a widespread disease effecting millions of people in the United States. Approximately 100 people die from drug overdoses daily and that rate is growing. 2.6 million people are dependent on a combination of illicit substances and alcohol. An estimated 16.6 million people are alcoholics. The opioid epidemic is unfortunately quite familiar and runs rampant in this country. While medication assisted therapy is available, the prescribed medications are addictive and come with a harsh detox, continuing the cycle.
Dr. Ethan Russo is a board certified neurologist and has done immense research on psycho-pharmacology. He teamed up Americans for Safe Access (ASA), hosting a webinar called “Cannabis: An Unconventional Solution to the Opioid Crisis?” He discussed the opioid crisis and how medicinal plants, like cannabis, can work to combat it. He explained cannabis treats pain without adverse side effects, like contributing to cardiorespiratory failure. He stated that cannabis can be used in lieu of pain killers or can be used with smaller doses of opioids to achieve relief. Dr. Russo also referenced that studies showed cannabis’ capability to reduce withdrawal symptoms during detox and can control drug seeking behavior. Russo stressed that THC is not the only avenue and the CBD can help in fighting the opioid epidemic.
Many people abusing opiates report they were prescribed the medications due to pain issues. Eventually it took more to ease the discomfort, leading to abusing prescriptions or drugs like heroin. CBD (cannabidiol) is a compound found in it’s highest concentrations in the hemp plant. CBD is shown to work on the same pain pathways as opiates and at providing long term relief.
CBD has show efficiency in reducing cravings of heroin and drug seeking behavior. A study in the Journal of Neuroscience reports that CBD maintained the reduction after 24 hours and up to two weeks after administration. Currently, drugs like Methadone and Suboxone are used in the detox or in harm reduction of those with an opiate addiction. They are sedative-like, addictive and can be worse to “come off of” than heroin itself. Further testing on CBD is underway, which could provide a safer, more comfortable treatment for addicts. CBD oil reviews
Addiction has been linked to the “reward pathway” in the brain. As a substance enters the body, it effects neurons in the brain that release chemicals. These chemicals, like serotonin and dopamine, promote feelings of well-being. This creates a deficiency in the normal production of the chemicals and leaves the person craving more. CBD works through the physiological system in the body known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The goal of the ECS is to create homeostasis, or internal balance. The ECS regulates functions like mood, pain, inflammation, immune function and cognitive processes. CBD increases the levels of both of these neurotransmitters and achieves the same effect. In doing so, people find a reduction in anxiety and depression. CBD also works to promote relaxation and an overall sense of wellness. By naturally boosting the deficient neurotransmitters, the need to pick up a drink or a drug is diminished.