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cbd oil and alcoholism

Once the physiological effects of full-blown alcoholism manifest in an individual, quitting the drug can present an array of serious biological and emotional side effects.

As Gonzalez-Cuevas et al. put it, their findings also help “inform the ongoing medical marijuana debate concerning medical benefits of non-psychoactive cannabinoids and their promise for development and use as therapeutics.” However, more human studies are necessary to determine if the findings from these animal studies are as significant as they appear.

CBD Oil for Alcoholism: How Cannabis Alleviates the Emotional and Biological Effects of Withdrawal

From their systematic review, Turna et al. concluded that the rodent models indicated that CBD “attenuates cue-elicited and stress-elicited alcohol-seeking, alcohol self-administration, withdrawal-induced convulsions, and impulsive discounting of delayed rewards.” They also noted that in human studies, CBD was “well-tolerated and did not interact with the subjective effects of alcohol.”

Due to financial, personal, or professional reasons, though, many people find treatment facilities to be impractical. This is one of the reasons why CBD oil for alcoholism is on the minds of so many; it’s far cheaper than prescription medications and/or admittance into a treatment facility. It also allows individuals to largely self-medicate with a specific oil that is appropriate for them and their unique condition.

In 2015, for example, researchers published a peer-reviewed article in Substance Abuse that identified CBD’s ability to function as a modulator for several of the neuronal circuits that were disrupted over the course of long-term addiction. The article recognized CBD’s ability to provide a “stand-in” mechanism for the brain’s reward structures to communicate in the absence of naturally-occurring endocannabinoids. A bit academic-sounding, but a pretty astonishing discovery to say the least.

Like any other drug, alcohol interacts with specific receptors in the brain that usually transmit chemicals important for brain function. Alcohol molecules slot into these receptors instead of proteins like dopamine, GABA, and glutamate. Let’s look at what these chemicals do and what alcohol does to the brain instead:

Their findings were encouraging. It turns out, CBD acts in a very unique way in the brain because it can fit into a lot of different neurotransmitter receptors, replacing the drug molecule. When an addict goes through withdrawal without any treatment, their brain suffers from lack of neurotransmitters because the brain has been using the drug instead of making them. With CBD treatment, the addict’s brain has a natural chemical to fill those empty receptors, and this eases the brain into recovery. While CBD fills those receptors, the brain can ramp up production of those important chemicals like dopamine until it’s back to normal. CBD molecules even break the cycle of craving and relapse because they fill those receptors, making the addict less likely to go look for drugs.

Effects of Alcohol Abuse

Cannabinoids like CBD and CBN are the non-psychotropic chemicals in cannabis, meaning they don’t produce the “high” people experience. That doesn’t mean they don’t have some benefits to the brain and the body of addicts (and healthy people too). After all, our body makes its own cannabinoids and has specific receptors just for these chemicals. Scientists are interested in how CBD interacts with those neurotransmitter receptors in the brain, and they’ve focused their studies on rats that are addicted to drugs like alcohol to see how their brains respond to cannabinoids.

That’s just what alcohol does to those specific receptors in your brain. Imagine the cascading effects of these neurotransmitter changes in the body, especially over time. When alcohol abuse turns chronic, the brain and body are damaged in a number of ways that keep the addict returning to the bottle. Not only does alcohol hijack that reward center to make the brain seek it more, but it also depresses the brain’s activity so much that it can make the brain smaller.

There is hope for those who want to quit drinking, though. Cannabinoids have been shown to help addicts relapse less, help restore the natural balance of neurotransmitters, and also ease withdrawal symptoms.