CBD to treat alcohol withdrawals

There is scientific evidence to show CBD can treat alcohol and opioid addictions. When we learn about addiction we are more prepared to tackle it. CBD is even more effective at treating Cannabis addiction.

What is alcohol withdrawal?

Alcohol withdrawal is a severe and lethal consequence of quitting alcohol suddenly, especially after extensive drinking over a long period of time. This is a sign of alcohol dependency, and requires careful management. The symptoms may include nausea, insomnia, anxiety and even hallucinations. Damage to the lungs, liver, brain and heart are all common.

Current medications to treat alcohol withdrawal have their benefits, but all of these pharmacological solutions pale in comparison to the power of CBD!

Research has shown CBD works!

In short, evidence is beginning to establish that CBD can reverse addictive behaviour The journal ‘Substance Abuse’ published a paper showing tentative evidence that CBD can reverse addictive behaviours. A small study of patients addicted (to alcohol, opioids or cocaine) were treated with CBD – the results showed a decrease in compulsion to use drugs. The study found subjects had reduced urges of consumption.

An animal study by Gonzalez-Cuevas et al. proved that CBD reduces the stress and anxiety associated with withdrawal of drugs and alcohol. Notably, the reduced urge to consume alcohol lasted for over 150 days after the end of the treatment. Does CBD seem like a long-term strategy to quit and stay off of alcohol? You tell us!

Cell culture studies – which look at changes at the smallest chemical level of the body – have also shown promising results. In a large literature review by Turna et al., CBD was shown to reduce damage to the liver, decrease the stress of withdrawal and reprogram the reward system of the brain. 

All these studies show largely the same picture: supplementing with CBD will not only help you quit alcohol and end addiction, but help the ride be as smooth as it possibly can be at the same time.

Unfortunately due to cultural and political reasons scientific research isn't happening at the pace it deserves.

CBD as a ‘quitting agent’ for more than just alcohol

CBD oil is currently being tested in research trials by many pharmaceutical companies as a potential medication to treat cigarette addiction. CBD products reduce the nervousness and irritability associated with quitting smoking; it makes you feel settled and reduces cravings.  Mood swings are also associated with smoking cessation – our CBD has the potential to stabilise mood. As CBD helps regulate the reward system once it has been overstimulated it's potential for treating addiction extends well beyond alcohol to nicotine, opioids and other addictive drugs, patterns or behaviours. Theoretically it could help treat gambling addictions or addiction to sex although there are little studies to prove this, who would fund them!

The science behind alcohol withdrawal

To dive into the biochemistry of alcohol withdrawal: alcohol affects the reward centre of the brain. By consuming alcohol the brain releases chemicals (known as neurotransmitters) to cause satisfaction, and provide feelings of happiness. When drinking is stopped, the neurotransmitter GABA (causing pleasure in the brain) is not released. This leads to extreme discomfort as described above. Alcohol is therefore recognised as an addictive drug, as it is needed to feel normal, and causes acute withdrawal symptoms.

Alcohol withdrawal can progress to Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, resulting in dangerous amnesia, confusion and even hallucinations. Severe alcohol dependency often requires admission to hospital, where emergency IV vitamins and sedatives are required. Doctors regularly see alcoholics on the ward hiding in the corner of rooms, afraid of nurses and staff. Extreme paranoia and hallucinations is not pretty!

CBD fixing the reward system

In simple terms, excessive alcohol usage has been proven to destroy CB-1 receptors in the body. These structures are critical to managing our emotions, and are involved in the reward and satisfaction pathways of the brain. Low CB-1 leads to increased pain sensation and reduced ability to socialise. Increased aggression is another consequence of low CB-1 – we all know the stereotype of the angry alcoholic!

CBD stimulates the CB-1 receptor, causing it to be stimulated by chemicals within your own body at a greater rate. This leads to satisfaction, decreased inflammation and a reversal of many of the negative consequences of alcohol withdrawal.

Current drugs to treat alcohol withdrawal

When suggesting new treatments for classic illnesses, it is important to compare the new medicine to its alternatives. There are two frontrunners for managing alcohol withdrawal:

Benzodiazepines: also known as benzos, these sedative drugs are used to prevent seizures. However, they carry a great risk of addiction, and can cause drowsiness, confusion and even depression. What was that we said about CBD causing you to feel more social and uplifted?

Naltrexone: While research hasn’t shown exactly how Naltrexone works, it appears to make alcoholics less keen to drink and more likely to abstain. However, it does not reduce feelings of low mood and aggression associated with alcohol withdrawal

CBD – Conclusion… CBD is the Best Decision!

In this article we have gone over how alcohol withdrawal works, why it is so dangerous, and the current methods to treat it. We explored how CBD and its pharmacological benefits as a supplement to enable you to quit alcohol. More research would always be a bonus – but for now we can suggest that CBD is very promising as a treatment for alcohol withdrawal. When quitting alcohol, supplement with CBD!