CBD is well known for helping those who struggle with anxious thoughts, chronic pain and insomnia. There are also some more uniquebenefits to CBD.
One of those lesser-known uses; managing opiate withdrawal.
Many would argue that the United States has an opioid epidemic. It often starts with a prescription, opioid medications to manage pain from an injury. The cure then becomes the disease, far worse than the physical ailment.
Opiates are extremely addictive and cause severe withdrawal symptoms when quitting. Because of how CBD affects the brain, careful use of CBD can help those struggling with opiate addiction.
CBD Oil Facts
CBD oil is harvested from plants in the cannabis family. Often, people hear the word cannabis and immediately think of marijuana.
While marijuana is a member of the cannabis family, CBD is more commonly extracted from hemp, another member of the cannabis family. CBD is one of several cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant.
CBD is no the same as THC, another well known cannabinoid. THC, is the chemical that creates a sense of euphoric disconnection associated with being high.
Marijuana is high in THC, while hemp contains higher amounts of CBD.
CBD can soothe irritated nerves and quiet anxious thoughts. Enough of it can make you sleepy. Too much of it can cause stomach upset. CBD does not get you high.
Opioids, CBD, and the Brain
Opiates come from the poppy plant while CBD comes from hemp.
Both bind to receptors in the brain and alter the signals that travel to your nervous system.
CBD tends to soothe or calm agitated forms of transmission, such as pain or racing thoughts when you are trying to sleep or focus on a task.
Opiates block the transmission of pain and trigger an endorphine rush. Endorphins are the feel-good chemical in the brain. There are healthy and natural ways to trigger endorphins. If you have ever felt great after a hard workout, you probably generated your own endorphin rush.
Endorphins are a crucial hormone generated by the pituitary gland.
Continued exposure to opiates leads to endorphin suppression.
After exposure to an opioid, you may feel a thrill of positive energy, but you will likely feel much worse after the drug wears off.
Over time, you will lose the ability to generate this critical hormone on your own. You will start to need the opioid to feel anything positive at all.
This sense of need will become a craving that may become the focus of your life. Too often, opioid exposure snowballs into severe addiction.
Dangers of Opioid Withdrawal
Once you have been using an opioid for a while, quitting will be extremely difficult.
If you started taking opiates to deal with an injury, the pain will return, and may be worse than before. The endorphin suppression could lead you to a dangerous emotional state.
The physical sensations of opiate withdrawal include
- Anxiety and irritability
- Diarrhea, vomiting and body aches
- Watery eyes and a runny nose
Your heart may race and your body can shake. While it is rare, opioid withdrawal can be fatal. Do not attempt this on your own or without the care of skilled medical professionals.
Dangers of Opioid Overdose
Addicts may get to a point where nothing matters more than satisfying the craving. Careless use of an opioid when you are fighting withdrawal symptoms can put you at risk of an overdose.
An overdose can be lethal. Those who overdose might stop breathing. Either your brain stem is suppressed to the point that you just do not inhale at all, or your breathing gets so shallow that CO2 builds up and becomes lethal.
Your bodies reflex to eject CO2 and take in oxygen can be suppressed by opioids.
Controlling the Craving
Anything that generates and endorphin rush can be addicting.
CBD has been shown to help heroin addicts in multiple ways. Someone in the midst of an opiate withdrawal will have a serious need for the drug, and a lot of anxiety about where they are going to get it.
A measured dose of CBD has been shown to lower the intensity of the anxiety. Does this mean that the addiction is beaten?
No. The body and brain will need to find a balance.
The ability to generate endorphins through healthier means will need to be learned. However, there are indications that CBD can soothe the agitation generated by a brain that has gone from enjoying opiates to requiring opiates.
One of the most dangerous aspects of opiate addiction is the need for more drug to get the same response. This puts many users on a slippery slope and sends them to the black market or to illega drugs such as heroin for the same high.
Current research tells us that you cannot build up a tolerance for CBD. In fact, because long term use tends to build up the compound in your tissues, you actually need less of it to maintain the full benefit.
It should be noted that stopping CBD use can cause a resurgence of the conditions you were fighting.
For example, if you were using CBD for anxious thoughts, you may not have noticed that it was also reducing the pain of osteoarthritis. If you then stop using CBD, both become noticeable again.
Long Term Damage
The long term damage of opiate exposure can include;
- Damage to the heart muscle
- Chronic inflammation and unmanageable pain
- Clinical depression
Because many opiate users progress from a prescription pill to an injectable illegal drug, the risk of infection increases. This also presents the risk of virus's such as HIV.
Opiates plug into a receptor in your brain. So does CBD. However, while opiates create an imbalance, CBD helps your brain to create a balance. CBD will not create the crash or the cravings that opiates do.
People use opiates to disconnect and experience euphoria. The rush of these chemicals might not seem like a bad thing.
But because the endorphin suppression continues long after the opiate wears off, you may fall into an emotional hole that you just cannot climb out of. This can lead you to do more and more of the drug in order to chase the high.
This is the vicious cycle of addiction.
CBD can help to break that cycle, restore balance to your brain and body, and give you time to begin the healing process.