Almost every sixteen minutes someone in the United States dies from an opiate related overdose. Over two million people are addicted to opiates in the United States alone. These two statistics represent a large reason why opiate addiction is being called an epidemic. This addiction brings with it over a ninety percent relapse rate which gives an addict very little hope when or if they realize that they need help. We cannot forget that not everyone chose this fate. Many of them had been prescribed an opioids-based medicine for assorted reasons including: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and the list continues. Many of these patients only wanted to feel “normal” again and now they’re faced with the potential downward spiral trying to rid themselves of this horrible illness. Opiate based medicines do have the ability to help people, however, the risk of addiction is something that should be considered and is often overlooked.

Opiate receptors are present in the human body. Opiates bond to these receptors giving the consumer a feeling of euphoria, pleasure, and greatly altering the way the brain perceives pain. As the user continues to use the drug, these euphoric feeling starts to fade and in turn the consumer increases the dosage to achieve the same pleasure and euphoria they had when they first started using the drug. When this does not work any more the drug simply gives the user a feeling of being“normal” as without the drug the individual feels sick. Welcome to opiate addiction and the source of ninety plus deaths per day. If you take a second to think about that figure, consider this: the average size college class is around thirty students. This statistic translates to enough death to fill three college classrooms from taking a drug that is a medicine. The three most common drugs prescribed to addicts are: methadone (a synthetic opiate and schedule two narcotic, addictive, and has so far been linked to over five thousand overdose deaths), buprenorphine (a synthetic opiate that has addictive properties), and naltrexone (the only non-opiate of the big three). All three of these have similar side effects including: anxiety, depression, nausea, and trouble sleeping to name a few. What is being prescribed to addicts is something that only starts the cycle over again.

Enough gloom and doom, there’s hope! There have been many people seeking alternatives to using more potentially addictive drugs and in turn have had cannabidiol recommended to them or found it through their own research. These patients have had remarkable results without the terrible side effects. Cannabidiol is non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant and is most commonly referred to as CBD. This compound has been researched and it has been discovered that CBD can help  alleviate: pain, nausea, anxiety, depression, and inflammation to name just a few. The most common side effects of CBD are: dry mouth, small decrease in blood pressure which normally results in the feeling of being light headed, and higher doses can make the user feel drowsy or tired.

From the World Health Organization (WHO) 2017 Report

“Another possible therapeutic application which has been investigated is the use of CBD to treat drug addiction. A recent systematic review concluded that there were a limited number of preclinical studies which suggest that CBD may have therapeutic properties on opioid, cocaine, and psychostimulant addiction, and some preliminary data suggest that it may be beneficial in cannabis and tobacco addiction in humans. However, considerably more research is required to evaluate CBD as a potential treatment. [68]”

“While the number of studies is limited, the evidence from well controlled human experimental research indicates that CBD is not associated with abuse potential.”

Here’s how CBD works: the human body has an endo-cannabinoid system which is a complex network responsible for several bodily functions including: mood, memory, pain, and immune response. This network is made up of CB1 and CB2 receptors. The cannabidiol (CBD) sits off to the side of these receptors and has the ability to block most chemical messengers and preventing them from forming a bond. Essentially the way this works is CBD bonds to CB1 receptors which have a significant impact on the brain’s reward response and influencing addictive behaviors during a relapse period. This greatly reduces the drug urges which are the cause for relapse.

In my own opinion, if there is a safer alternative to the most common opiate addiction medications that can have some potentially dangerous side effects then why not try a safer alternative. This is a plant sourced compound that can be collected without the use of toxic solvents nor does it have a bunch of other ingredients added. CBD can be obtained without a prescription (it is recommended that you check your state laws to be 100% sure) and is readily available as of the writing of this article. No one is making any claims that CBD is the end all to addiction issues but if you or someone you know is suffering from this crippling illness it might be time to start looking into cannabidiol (CBD) for help.

~Nick Wicinsky, Volunteer NHA Contributor

Resources:

http://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/5.2_CBD.pdf
https://www.medicalmarijuanainc.com/side-effects-cbd-oil/
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317221.php
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4444130/
https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/brain-actions-cocaineopiates-marijuana/section-iii-introduction-to-drugs-abuse-cocaine-opiat-7
https://www.leafly.com/news/science-tech/high-cbd-cannabis-pain-and-opioidaddiction
https://news.medicalmarijuanainc.com/cbd-effects-human-body/
https://www.leafbuyer.com/blog/how-cbds-affect-opioid-addiction/
https://www.naabt.org/faq_answers.cfm?ID=6
https://web.csulb.edu/~cwallis/483/opiates_on_the_brain.html