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How CBD Helps People Combat Opioid Addiction

Since time immemorial, addiction has proven to be hard to understand and even harder to treat.

It’s a disease that affects people of all ages, backgrounds and economic levels. There’s been no silver bullet found that can eliminate it for everyone. Treatments that work to cure some don’t work for others, and sadly, some people are hard-pressed to find any treatment that works at all.

The problem has only worsened in recent years. The American opioid crisis began in earnest in the 1990s, when opioids became the most-prescribed class of drugs in the United States. Since then, the rates of addiction to, disability from and overdose on this serious class of drugs has risen to ever more troubling levels.

People experiencing serious, chronic and difficult-to-treat pain are in dire straits. In some cases, they can’t work, can’t think and can’t function properly without managing the extreme discomfort. But opioids have proven to be highly problematic for general use, as they can be addictive, incredibly potent and sometimes even contaminated.

Meanwhile, CBD has been touted as a miracle substance that can effectively treat pain, epilepsy, cancer and more. You may have heard from your neighbor who swears by it, your friend who loves to buy it for his dog or a celebrity who keeps posting on social media about what a miracle it is.

Now, researchers are discovering evidence that CBD can be a powerful tool to combat opioid addiction and possibly curtail the nationwide opioid crisis.

The subject of opioid addiction is incredibly serious. We want to be very careful to separate facts from anecdotes — and in this article, we will delve into some of the exciting science-based discoveries and theories that support the idea that CBD has a powerful role to play in the critical battle against the dependence on and abuse of opioids.

CBD Can Help People who Have Already Battled Opioid Addiction by Providing Them with a Powerful Painkiller with Far Fewer Risks

Pain is blinding: When you’re dealing with it and it won’t go away, your thoughts can become consumed with doing whatever it takes to feel better again.

Unfortunately, that very human response, coupled with the global factors that have made opioids more available, have combined to create a prescription painkiller crisis of epidemic and unprecedented proportions.

That’s why people everywhere are getting so excited about the potential of CBD to treat tough, chronic and unexplained pain of all types.

A recent study appearing in “The Postgraduate Medical Journal” aimed to test the pragmatism of treating patients who might have been prescribed opioids for pain with CBD instead.[1]

Researchers selected a sample of patients aged 30-65 who were recruited from a private pain management center’s investigative population for an eight-week study. The chief inclusion criteria were that the patients had to be dealing with chronic pain and taking opioids to treat the pain for at least one year.

Data were collected at three different time points: baseline, at four weeks and at eight weeks. Opioid and other medication use were evaluated via the medication and psychiatric treatment receipt. Improvement was evaluated using four indices: Pain Disability Index (PDI-4); Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), Pain Intensity and Interference (PEG) and Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-4).

The findings were remarkable — “Over half of chronic pain patients (53%) reduced or eliminated their opioids within eight weeks after adding CBD-rich hemp extract to their regimens. Almost all CBD users (94%) reported quality-of-life improvements.”[2]

The study seemed to show that CBD could “significantly reduce opioid use and improve chronic pain and sleep quality among patients currently using opioids for pain management. … Using the CBD-rich extract enabled patients to reduce or eliminate opioids with significant improvement in their quality-of-life indices.”[3]

CBD Can Help People Reduce and Avoid Stress-Induced Opioid Relapses

More and more peer-reviewed studies are emerging to bolster the argument that CBD is a powerful painkiller. And an exciting, rigorous new study seemed to show that CBD could even help tame the dangerous behavioral pathways that lead formerly addicted individuals to relapse.

In May of this year, the results of a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial[4] regarding the role of CBD in reducing “cue-induced craving and anxiety in drug-abstinent individuals with heroin use disorder” were published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

According to the study overview:

This study investigated the potential of cannabidiol (CBD) … to reduce cue-induced craving and anxiety, two critical features of addiction that often contribute to relapse and continued drug use, in drug-abstinent individuals with heroin use disorder.

Translation: The objective was to see whether CBD could help reduce the risk of relapse in addicts. In the study, one group received a dose of placebo and another received a dose of CBD. Then, each group was presented with “salient drug cues compared with neutral cues.” (For example, “salient drug cues” could be drug paraphernalia like syringes or tourniquets, while “neutral cues” could be innocuous objects like pens or keychains.)

According to the findings, “CBD reduced the drug cue-induced physiological measures of heart rate and salivary cortisol levels. There were no significant effects on cognition, and there were no serious adverse effects.” That means that CBD prevented the expected stress reaction when individuals who had previously struggled with addiction were presented with “triggers.”

Such a stress feeling can be the gateway to a relapse, as it creates a sense of helplessness and loss of control. This exciting finding indicates that CBD may have a valuable role to play in keeping those who were formerly addicted to opioids on the “straight and narrow.”

As the Opioid Crisis Evolves, Watch Carefully for CBD to Emerge as a Powerful Tool in Fighting Addiction

As the word gets out about the power of CBD in treating chronic, hard-to-manage pain, perhaps more and more people will experience a lowered risk of opioid addiction by avoiding the temptation of taking prescription drugs in the first place.

These findings are already bearing out across the U.S.: Early epidemiological data shows that the rate of opioid abuse and overdose has fallen in states where CBD is legal.[5]

While this finding has been contested (some believe that opioid overdose rates are, or will be, higher in states where CBD is legal) — The World Health Organization has definitively stated that: “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential . . . To date, there is no evidence of public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”[6] Therefore, it may be the case that a link between CBD legality and opioid abuse in any given state is coincidental rather than causal.

Given the legality, safety and incredible promise of CBD, it’s no wonder that it’s emerging as an important potential alternative to dangerous (and increasingly illegal) opioids. CBD is also being celebrated as a key weapon in fighting the dangerous neural and behavioral pathways that make substance abuse so tough to eliminate.

Are you one of the many people in the U.S. who’s dealing with debilitating, chronic or hard-to-treat pain? It may be time to consider CBD — the non-addictive, legal and safe “miracle substance” that’s being lauded as a powerful and life-changing alternative to addictive and dangerous opioids.

You could be just like the millions of people who have banished their pain permanently with a simple dose of CBD.

Wouldn’t that be life-changing?

 

To read more about New Coastal co-founder Ron Brown’s personal connection to the power of CBD in combating opioid addiction, click here.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31711352

[2] Same as above

[3] Same as above

[4] https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.ajp.2019.18101191

[5] https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/substance-use-disorder/cannabinoids-chronic-pain-opioid-alternative

[6] https://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/5.2_CBD.pdf

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