Some facts about CBD for alcohol withdrawal. How to use CBD oil for alcoholism. What is the CBD dosage for alcohol withdrawal? We have answers for you here The science behind CBD and alcohol addiction cessation. What the data says, information about CBD, and how to use CBD for alcohol withdrawal.
CBD and Alcohol Withdrawal: How CBD Can Help Treat The Pain of Addiction
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism 2018, at least 14.4 million US adults (18 years and above) had what is described as Alcohol Use Disorder. This includes at least 9.2 million men (7.6% of men in this age group) and 5.3 million women (4.1% of women in this age group)
According to the same body, at least 88,000 people die every year due to alcohol-related causes. This makes alcohol the 3rd leading preventable cause of death in the US after tobacco, and poor living choices (poor diet and physical inactivity. In 2010 alone, alcohol abuse cost the country $249 billion.
What’s more, scarier, are the many health risks associated with alcohol withdrawal, and the fact that only about 8% of the 14.4 million people above get treatment. This suggests that millions of people are left dealing with serious complications such as hallucinations, seizures, anxiety, and depression.
In light of new research, however, CBD for alcohol withdrawal is a real thing and is being fronted as a possible natural remedy for reducing cravings for alcohol, withdrawal symptoms, and relapses.
So how true is this?
In this post, we will explain what alcoholism is, some withdrawal symptoms, and also why CBD may help treat the pain of addiction and withdrawal.
But before that, let’s discuss CBD.
What is CBD, and Will It Make You High?
CBD, short cannabidiol, is a naturally occurring chemical compound in the cannabis plant. There are at least 100 chemical compounds (cannabinoids) existing naturally in the plant.
The most known of these cannabinoids is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive and it’s known for its many health benefits such as relief from chronic pain, cancer treatment symptoms, muscle spasms, arthritis, anxiety, and depression, etc.
There you got it; CBD won’t make you high. In fact, it is thought to counteract the psychoactive property of THC.
Where Does Hemp Come Into All This?
You have probably heard the terms cannabis, hemp, and marijuana being mentioned in relation to CBD.
To put it simply, Cannabis Sativa has two species; hemp and marijuana. Both species contain CBD, but it’s more concentrated in hemp. Hemp also contains very low THC (less than 0.3%).
On the other hand, marijuana is low in CBD but very high in THC.
This is why hemp-based CBD won’t make you high.
What is Alcoholism?
Alcoholism, alcohol withdrawal, alcohol abuse- words often used interchangeably when, in fact, they are all mutually exclusive terms with a clear difference in meaning and implications.
Alcohol abuse refers to regular excessive alcohol consumption, which often leaves behind a trail of negative impact on people’s lives. This may include conflicts in families, relationships, and work habits.
Alcoholism, on the other hand, refers to when dependence sets in, and alcohol takes over the central role in someone’s life. In other words, alcoholism is ‘advanced’ alcohol abuse.
As dependence on alcohol gets more established, a person spends most of their time thinking about alcohol, how they can obtain it, or how they can recover from its effects. At this stage, the person may display a total reliance on alcohol and quitting can present different emotional and biological effects (withdrawal symptoms)
How CBD May Help in The Treatment of Alcoholism & Withdrawal
Here is what people have to say about using CBD for alcoholism and drug addiction:
Alcoholism has two impacts on the user; physical addiction to the drug, and the psychological dependence on it.
Physical addiction to the substance is the reason why people experience withdrawal symptoms after they stop consuming.
Some of these withdrawal symptoms include:
- Shaking and tremors (Delirium tremens)
If not treated, such a person may even die. Depending on the severity of alcohol dependency, this phase may last between 3-14 days.
Once someone has gone through the painful withdrawal trauma, they may still experience a psychological dependence on alcohol. There are many triggers that make them start drinking again.
To understand how CBD can help with alcoholism, let’s see how addiction happens.
Addiction is a Brain Disease
The American Psychiatric Association defines addiction as a complex condition, a brain disease that’s manifested by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequences.
Addiction is regarded as a brain disease because of the way it ‘hijacks’ and alters how the brain processes information.
According to experts, the brain parts responsible for controlling the perception of daily activities and pleasure are susceptible to the influence of alcohol and other addictive drugs.
Due to the ‘rewiring’ of the brain during addiction, the person learns to associate various things such as a location, day of the week, or even friends to the act of using the drug. So if they pass by a particular bar, for instance, they will associate it with the nights they spend out drinking with friends. Such cues become integral reminders of drug use.
How CBD Helps
Experts suggest that cannabidiol can dampen parts of the brain associated with memory. As we have seen, addiction forges a sort of memory ‘groove’ in the brain that compels the individual to take the drug. By dampening these memories, CBD helps reduce the compulsion.
In addition, just like alcohol (and other addictive drugs), cannabidiol targets the pleasure centers in the brain without making users high.
CBD has also been shown to help remedy some physical withdrawal symptoms. You can use the compound when facing triggers or alcohol cravings. The compound may also prevent other stressful withdrawal symptoms, as shown below:
1. Anxiety and Depression
It’s normal to be anxious when undertaking something new. Deciding to quit alcohol and going through the process can put someone into an uncontrollable panic.
Luckily, CBD has been shown to remedy anxiety and depression .
2. Fatigue and Headaches
Other common symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal include fever, fatigue, and headaches.
Cannabidiol helps boost sleep , hence reducing fatigue. It’s also known for its pain-relieving properties and thus can help with migraines. As if that’s not enough, the compound has antioxidant properties hence helping with fever.
3. Stress and Irritability
Another common use of CBD is to reduce nervousness and stress. During alcohol withdrawal, the individual can experience stress, which can lead to anger/irritability.
4. Neurological Complications
Alcoholism may lead to neurological issues such as memory loss. Being a neuroprotectant , CBD has been shown to treat various neurological problems ranging from confusion to traumatic brain damage to dementia to brain problems due to alcohol abuse.
One of the most understood uses of cannabidiol is to prevent seizures.
Also known as delirium tremens, tremors are common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Due to its ability to treat seizures, it’s thought that CBD can help reduce these ‘shakes.’
Although more research is still needed to ascertain exactly how CBD can help with alcoholism, it’s clear that the compound can be a helpful companion for anyone dealing with alcohol abuse or withdrawal symptoms.
Not only does it alleviate the need to use alcohol or other harmful opioids, but it also helps treat most of the symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal.
It does all this without getting users high or forming an addictive behavior.
How To Use CBD For Alcohol Withdrawal
In this article, you’ll learn a ton of CBD and alcohol info and tips. The use of CBD for alcohol withdrawal and other addictive disorders has become a hot topic lately, thanks to cutting-edge research involving CBD oil for alcoholism in rats. Since staying on top of new research is one of my favorite things to do, I quickly sampled some CBD oil for myself – and I will share the results with you below.
This article will primarily focus on the mechanisms by which non-THC, hemp-derived CBD oil may work to alleviate post-acute withdrawal and alcohol cravings.
First, we will give a brief overview of CBD. We will clarify the difference between CBD oil extracted from hemp and the use of marijuana for alcohol withdrawal. We will then discuss research that is relevant for the use of CBD for alcohol withdrawal, as well as my favorite CBD brand and further considerations for people who want to use CBD for alcoholism.
CBD And Alcohol: What Is CBD?
Now, you may be wondering: What on earth is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural compound found in both industrial hemp and marijuana. Our bodies contain endocannabinoids in numerous organs, including multiple brain regions. The endocannabinoid system is involved in maintaining bodily homeostasis, especially with regard to the following functions:
Incidentally, exercise is known to powerfully stimulate the endocannabinoid system.
Supplementation with CBD is thought to improve numerous conditions by helping to restore balance to the body and brain.
Unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), another compound found in marijuana and some hemp strains, CBD is not psychoactive and therefore does not give users a “high.” Instead, scientists have focused on CBD for its plethora of health-promoting effects, which may be useful for a variety of conditions as well as general health optimization.
CBD And Alcohol: CBD vs Marijuana For Alcohol Withdrawal
Why CBD Helps With Alcohol Withdrawal
I recently discussed exciting new research in rats that showed the potential for a 1-week administration of CBD oil to reduce alcohol cravings and subsequent relapse for up to 5 months. This particular study noted that CBD reduced biomarkers for inflammation, which disrupts neurotransmitter production, leading to uncontrollable cravings and relapse.
If you have been reading Fit Recovery for awhile, then you know that short-term alcohol consumption causes a cascade of artificial boosts in feel-good brain chemicals.
You also know that heavy drinking creates severe deficiencies in these neurotransmitters, which are required to feel like life is worth living. It does this in part by prompting the brain to rely on alcohol instead of producing optimal quantities of these brain chemicals on its own.
Long-term alcohol consumption also causes deficiencies in nutrients required for optimal neurotransmitter production. To make a bad situation even worse, ethanol and its toxic byproducts (like acetaldehyde) lead to the production of pro-inflammatory compounds that directly inhibit the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine, GABA, and serotonin.
I believe that CBD may ultimately prove to be very useful in eliminating alcohol dependence for two main reasons:
- CBD is known to reduce the presence of pro-inflammatory compounds in the body and brain, removing a major roadblock for the production of feel-good brain chemicals. It may do this by repairing oxidative stress in a similar manner as antioxidants.
- CBD directly restores our natural endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids (and even the number of endocannabinoid receptors) have been found to be severely depleted and even extinguished entirely by heavy drinking.
Why Marijuana Might Help With Alcohol Withdrawal
There is a long history of people using marijuana, which contains varying levels of CBD depending on the strain, to combat alcohol withdrawal. Some people have even successfully “switched” to marijuana from alcohol for long-term use.
Due to biochemical individuality, this form of harm reduction may work especially well for some people. I am sure that marijuana has saved lives from alcoholic destruction and liver disease.
I’m a fan of harm reduction – and I’m not opposed in principle to marijuana use.
However, there are a number of reasons that CBD oil may be safer and more suitable for the vast majority of alcohol-dependent people wishing to repair their bodies and brains:
- THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana, alters neurotransmission more drastically than CBD
- Unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive, leading at most to feelings of relaxation or sleepiness in high doses
- THC can cause mental discomfort and paranoia in people who are biochemically predisposed to anxiety
- Heavy, long-term THC exposure may affect focus, motivation, memory, learning, and mood stability
- Heavy marijuana smokers experience changes in brain function and reduced blood flow to the brain (source)
Marijuana is known to be less addictive than other psychoactive drugs. However, any substance that alters neurotransmission significantly can theoretically lead to physical and/or psychological dependence.
To the extent that marijuana may be physically addictive, the culprit appears to be THC, which is very similar in structure to a naturally occurring brain chemical called anandamide that “fits” into CB-1 receptors.
Interestingly, some research indicates that THC’s addictive potential may be counteracted by the presence of CBD. While CBD does not fully bind to CB-1 receptors, it has powerful indirect effects. Supplementation with CBD has even been found to alleviate THC withdrawal syndrome. (source)
Since marijuana strains contain varying proportions of these compounds, it can be difficult to determine how much THC or CBD one is consuming when consuming this plant. Generally, indica-dominant strains contain higher levels of CBD, while sativa-dominant strains contain a relatively higher proportion of THC.
The bottom line is that marijuana users may be able to obtain the benefits of CBD. However, they are also consuming up to 112 cannabidiols identified in cannabis, with THC being the most prevalent. By using CBD oil obtained from hemp, you can achieve therapeutic effects without getting high or even using marijuana.
CBD And Alcohol: Benefits Of CBD For Alcoholism
The use of CBD for alcohol withdrawal is still a very new phenomenon. There are many promising anecdotal reports about the use of CBD for alcohol withdrawal, but more studies are needed before we can say that CBD has proven benefits for people struggling with alcohol addiction.
As mentioned earlier, I believe that the two main benefits of CBD for alcohol withdrawal are inflammation reduction and endocannabinoid replenishment, both of which promote optimal neurotransmitter balance.
I also suspect that CBD exerts positive effects for people struggling with alcohol addiction in two specific ways:
- Reducing glutamate toxicity, which is relevant because alcohol withdrawal involves excess glutamate (a stress chemical) that contributes to insufficient GABA (the brain’s “natural Valium”)
- Reducing alcohol cravings through a combination of reducing inflammation, restoring endocannabinoid and CB-1 receptor function, and combating high glutamate levels
In many abstinence-only circles, the use of CBD is controversial. But there are signs that CBD is becoming more widely accepted. The media has begun to give a voice to people who have used CBD for a variety of health issues.
The Huffington Post told the story of a 15-year member of AA named April, who successfully used CBD to treat recurring melanomas. April gathered a large array of research demonstrating the therapeutic benefits of CBD for a wide variety of conditions. She brings up an important point: “ If there was no factually based research proving the benefits of CBD, then why would the U.S. buy a patent on CBD?” (source)
Many users on Reddit have noted that their drinking decreased after consuming CBD.
A growing number of people combine CBD with kratom to reap the benefits of both after they quit drinking. I should note that CBD works much differently than kratom. You can learn more about kratom in my article about how to use kratom for alcohol withdrawal.
Research On CBD For Alcohol Addiction
Scientists have begun to explore the effects of CBD on inflammation and addictive behaviors. Some of the results bear at least indirect relevance for people struggling with alcohol dependence:
- Alcohol-dependent people have a severely diminished prevalence of CB-1 receptors in the brain, even after prolonged periods of abstinence – and endocannabinoids can disappear altogether in severe cases of alcoholism. (source)
- Alcoholic rats given a non-THC version of CBD oil reduced their alcohol-seeking behaviors and prevented high impulsivity often seen with alcohol withdrawal. A 1-week administration of CBD oil produced these effects for 5 months, even though CBD itself left their systems after 3 days. (source)
- CBD reverses glutamate toxicity in the brain by binding to CB1 receptors and reducing oxidative stress (source)
- An analysis of scientific studies found that CBD seems to have direct effects on addictive behaviors, possibly by replenishing endocannabinoids that may be missing from the body, as well as indirectly by improving stress vulnerability and reducing neurotoxicity. (source)
- CBD reduces cigarette consumption in tobacco smokers (source)
- CBD reduces the reward-facilitating effects of morphine (source)
- CBD reduces cravings for cannabis following heavy usage (source)
- No adverse effects have been reported with high doses of CBD (source)
More research on CBD for alcohol withdrawal – particularly in humans – is clearly needed. The use of CBD for various addictive disorders is an exciting new research frontier from which I expect to see further advances in the near future.
Trusted CBD Oil Brands
I haven’t struggled with alcohol withdrawal or cravings in years, due to the supplements and lifestyle strategies discussed on this site and in my online course. My goal in trying CBD was to determine its overall impact on my sense of well-being and any negative side effects that I could discern.
I first ordered a few popular CBD supplements from Amazon. After using them, I noticed that I became slightly more calm and slept a bit deeper than usual.
I then came across a company called CBDPure, which makes CBD oil from organic hemp that contains zero THC. I did some research on this company and was generally impressed. CBDPure gave me 15% off with a coupon (given below), shipped to my condo for free, and had a 90-day unconditional refund policy.
CBDPure offers three different versions of CBD oil: 300mg, 600mg, and 1000mg. I’m very in tune with my body, meaning that I can usually notice some effect when I take a new supplement. I’m often overly cautious when dosing new supplements, but I knew that CBD was harmless even in large amounts. Therefore, I opted to try the 1000mg version.
The first thing I noticed was that the CBD oil from CBDPure tasted less grassy. It has a light golden color, similar to honey, and tastes earthy without the unpleasant grassiness that I noticed with the brands.
As for effects, CBDPure was more potent than the other brands I tried. I felt noticeably calmer within minutes after consuming just 1 dropper of their full-spectrum CBD oil. In my opinion, full-spectrum is better than CBD isolate, because it contains a wider range of natural compounds that work together to provide beneficial effects.
I sat down on my favorite chair and seemed to sink in deeper than usual. I read a few chapters of a book and then floated into bed. I can see how CBDPure offers massive relief for people struggling with discomfort after quitting drinking.
It’s important to note that while CBD oil may help to take the edge off instantly for many people, its most beneficial potential effects – including inflammation reduction – take place over a period of days or weeks.
CBDPure uses organic hemp harvested in Denmark, which apparently has some of the highest quality standards for hemp production. The company then uses CO2 extraction to produce its CBD oil here in the U.S. In contrast to more commonly used ethanol or butane, CO2 extraction is a nontoxic and precise method of isolating plant compounds.
If I were quitting drinking today, I would use 1-3 droppers of CBDPure 1000mg each night for a few weeks and then assess its effects on my overall sense of well-being and alcohol cravings. If I were on a tight budget, I’d simply start with the 300mg dropper bottle and order more if it helped!
Generally, I recommend that my private clients try one of CBDPure’s stronger versions – just to ensure maximum results.
As with every other supplement, CBD should be discussed with your doctor before you start using it.
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CBD Oil And Alcohol Withdrawal: Conclusion
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this article about CBD oil and alcohol plus the use of CBD for helping with quitting alcohol. I will continue to be on the lookout for new research on CBD, as well as any other new supplements that hold promise for enhancing alcohol recovery.
My drinking days are long gone. I live an exciting lifestyle that revolves in large part around optimizing my body and brain. There is a definite learning curve here, and I know that trial and error with supplementation can be frustrating.
If you’ve recently quit drinking, frame early recovery as your own individual journey and enjoy the ride. In the meantime, make sure to optimize your own lifestyle by integrating some healthy lifestyle strategies into your daily routine:
If you have any questions about CBD oil and alcohol plus the customized use of CBD, please leave them in the comment box below.
Is CBD safe for recovering alcoholics?
CBD is a safe supplement for people who describe themselves as recovering alcoholics. It is somewhat controversial due to its traditional association with marijuana. But since CBD is not psychoactive, it does not cause a “high.” Studies have found that it lowers anxiety and extends REM sleep, possibly by reducing brain inflammation.
Does CBD cancel out alcohol?
No known substance cancels out the negative effects of alcohol. But CBD can be useful for people who want to drink less alcohol. It helps to combat cravings, lowers anxiety, and helps with sleep.
Is CBD a good alternative to alcohol?
CBD is a healthy alternative to alcohol for “taking off the edge,” without toxic side effects like hangovers. There are now many CBD sparkling waters, CBD-infused kombuchas, and other similar products to sip instead of booze.
Does CBD help anxiety?
Many people have reported anecdotally that CBD helps with anxiety. Research has also begun to emerge that backs this claim. This effect may be related to the ability of CBD to reduce levels of brain inflammation.
Can CBD become addictive?
Unlike THC, which can be physically addictive, CBD is not addictive. It actually contains anti-addictive properties. Since both THC and CBD are traditionally found in marijuana, CBD’s anti-addictive properties may explain why marijuana is not thought of as particularly addictive in comparison with “hard” drugs.
Chris Scott founded Fit Recovery in 2014 to help people from around the world dominate alcohol dependence and rebuild their lives from scratch. A former investment banker, he recovered from alcohol dependence using cutting-edge methods that integrate nutrition, physiology, and behavioral change. Today, Chris is an Alcohol Recovery Coach and the creator of an online course called Total Alcohol Recovery 2.0.
Dr. Rebeca Eriksen is the Nutritional Consultant for Fit Recovery. She has a PhD in Nutritional Genetics from Imperial College London, and over ten years of clinical experience designing custom nutritional repair regimens for patients recovering from alcohol addiction. In addition to her work at the exclusive Executive Health clinic in Marbella, Spain, she helps to keep Fit Recovery up to date with emerging research.