Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a popular substance used to treat a variety of ailments. It is found in many different health and wellness products, such as creams, lotions, ointments, edible oils, gummies and many others. CBD gummies are ingestible candies that contain cannabidiol oil.
Alcohol use disorder (AUD), or alcohol addiction, is a chronic condition that makes someone unable to control alcohol consumption despite negative consequences. Although there is research demonstrating that CBD can reduce alcohol intake, it is important to keep in mind that it is not FDA-approved to treat addiction to alcohol.
What Is CBD?
There is a lot of confusion surrounding what exactly CBD is, and there are questions regarding its relationship to marijuana. CBD is typically derived from the hemp plant. Although both hemp and marijuana belong to the same species of plant — cannabis sativa — hemp plants have 0.3% of THC or less.
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is a psychoactive substance that causes feelings of euphoria, or a “high.” CBD, on the other hand, is considered non-intoxicating because of the extremely low content of THC.
Is CBD a Drug?
The answer to this question depends on how a drug is being defined. Dictionary.com defines a drug as “a chemical substance used in the treatment, cure, prevention or diagnosis of a disease or used to otherwise enhance physical or mental well-being.” In this case, the answer would be yes because CBD is utilized for its role in treating symptoms associated with pain, anxiety and neurological disorders.
On the other hand, the FDA has not approved CBD as a drug to treat any disease or condition, with one exception. The FDA has approved Epidiolex, a prescription medication containing a purified form of CBD, to treat seizures associated with certain disorders.
Is CBD Addictive?
Addiction is a chronic disorder that causes an individual to compulsively use a substance despite negative or dangerous outcomes. Because cannabidiol (CBD) does not contain a significant amount of THC, the psychoactive chemical that generates a high, it is not considered addictive. The World Health Organization concluded CBD does not seem to display any abuse potential or harm.
Anything that is deemed a controlled substance has some degree of abuse and addiction potential. With the passing of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, CBD was removed from that classification list.
However, it is critical to point out that the FDA has tested products and found that the listed content of CBD is not always accurate. The U.S. Department of Transportation also notes that some products that claim to have only CBD may surpass the 0.3% THC threshold. Higher amounts of THC indicate a potential to experience a “high” and may cause other side effects. THC is still a Schedule I controlled substance with a high potential for abuse and dependence that can lead to a marijuana addiction.
Is CBD Legal?
The 2018 farm bill legalized CBD on a federal level. The concentration of THC must be 0.3% or below in any CBD product in order to be considered legal. That said, it is important to understand that the law varies by state. The majority of states have fully legalized CBD, and the rest are legal with restrictions. For instance, Idaho requires that CBD and CBD products have zero THC and can only be obtained from the stalk of the plant.
Alcohol, CBD and Your Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) manages cognitive functions like learning and memory, emotional regulation, sleep, pain and other bodily functions. It is a network that contains:
- Cannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2
- Endocannabinoids: Cannabinoids produced naturally in the body
When our bodies produce endocannabinoids, they bind to a certain cannabinoid receptor to produce a response. For instance, if an endocannabinoid binds to a CB1 receptor, a signal will be sent to relieve pain. Once it has performed its function, enzymes will break down that endocannabinoid.
Consuming alcohol can affect the ECS. One study found that mice that were given alcohol had altered levels of endocannabinoids, and this disrupted the normal balance and functions they perform. Another study found that chronic alcohol consumption lowers the levels of CB1 receptors.
CBD can also affect the ECS. Although the exact mechanism is still unknown, researchers believe that CBD targets the endocannabinoid system to reduce cravings for substances like alcohol.
Can Taking CBD Gummies Decrease Alcohol Consumption?
CBD gummies contain the oil of cannabidiol. In animal studies, CBD has been shown to be an effective tool against some of the characteristics of alcohol use disorder. Research demonstrates that CBD helps to reduce alcohol intake, motivation for alcohol and relapse.
Another study performed on mice found that the combination of CBD with naltrexone, a prescription medication used for AUD and opioid use disorder, reduced motivation to drink alcohol and alcohol intake. Although this research is promising, studies on humans are necessary to substantiate these results.
Can CBD Gummies Help Reduce Alcohol Cravings?
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) involves using alcohol despite negative consequences. Because their bodies have become dependent on alcohol, people with AUD have cravings that are difficult to control. These cravings may be triggered by daily stressors or social situations. If someone with AUD stops drinking or limits their alcohol intake, they may experience alcohol withdrawal, which is marked by more intense cravings.
CBD is believed to be effective in reducing drug cravings and may weaken cravings associated with triggers. For instance, if someone is driving by a liquor store or bar that they frequently visited, they may be less likely to feel a craving at that moment. CBD may also weaken cravings that arise from stress.
Although a study performed on rodents demonstrated these results, human trials and more research are needed to confirm that these findings are reliable. It is also important to note that the FDA has not approved CBD for the treatment of any substance use disorder, including AUD.
Can CBD Gummies Help With Other Withdrawal Symptoms?
Alcohol withdrawal can cause other symptoms in addition to cravings. These include:
- Mood swings
- Inability to think clearly
- Difficulty sleeping
- Nausea and vomiting
CBD may be helpful with symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal because it is used to treat many of these symptoms. Many people also take CBD to help with features of anxiety, depression and insomnia, even though it is not indicated for these effects. Many of these people claim CBD is successful in treating these disorders. There is some data to support this; however, more research needs to be conducted before anyone can say for sure.
Mixing Alcohol and CBD
Drinking alcohol while using CBD should be avoided. Alcohol and CBD are depressants, so both can cause drowsiness, sleepiness and fatigue. If both substances are taken together, those effects may be intensified.
One small study showed that participants who consumed alcohol and CBD had impaired cognitive function, which affects a person’s response time and ability to focus. Their motor ability, which affects movement and stamina, was also compromised.
Choosing the Right CBD Product
CBD products are not regulated by the FDA, so it is important to be cautious when purchasing them. To ensure that you are purchasing a high-quality CBD product, check the label and verify that it is lab-tested. Third-party laboratories assess for safety and purity.
Additionally, you should check the label for sufficient information about the product. The label should include manufacturer information, cannabinoid content, other ingredients or additives, dosage, quantity, the date the product was made and an expiration date. There are also many different strains available, so check the bottle/vial to verify the CBD and THC content.
There are also different ways to ingest CBD. The flower of the plant can be smoked, which produces effects within minutes, peaks in about 30 minutes and may last up to six hours. Gummies and other edibles take longer to kick in but can last up to 12 hours. The gummies are believed to provide feelings of relaxation and help with sleep, but these effects have not been confirmed.
Get Help for Alcohol Addiction in Orlando
Alcohol addiction can have serious consequences, and the statistics surrounding alcohol abuse are staggering. From 2015 to 2019, there were over 140,000 deaths resulting from excessive alcohol use each year. Excessive drinking results in one in 10 deaths among people aged 20 to 64.
From weakening your immune system to causing liver disease, alcoholism can create a wide range of health problems. That is why it is imperative for anyone struggling with alcohol addiction to seek evidence-based treatment. Remember: CBD is not an FDA-approved treatment for alcohol use disorder, and it does not address the root causes of an addiction.
Orlando Recovery Center is an accredited facility that provides evidence-based care to those struggling with alcohol addiction. Treatment begins with medical detox; during this time, the client is monitored to minimize any discomfort or symptoms that may arise from withdrawal.
After detox, many clients begin individualized treatment plans that may include inpatient rehab, partial hospitalization, outpatient services and long-term aftercare. These programs offer group and individual therapy and customized coping strategies to help clients live a healthier life. Our facility also has numerous amenities, including a swimming pool, fully equipped gym, yoga, volleyball courts and more.
If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol use disorder, the Orlando Recovery Center is here to help. Contact us today to learn more about alcohol addiction treatment programs that can work well for your situation.
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The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.