Can CBD Help Those Struggling with Alcohol Dependency?
CBD’s Ability to Lessen Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms, Alcohol Cravings, & Replenish Endocannabinoids
Alcohol abuse is the third leading cause of preventable deaths, and it results in costs totaling over $200 billion annually (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention). This may be a surprising figure to some, but this statistic has been relatively consistent for many years already. Overall, on a worldwide level, but especially in Westernized countries like the U.S., alcohol usage is socially accepted and normalized. There’s the social drinkers, but then there’s others who are more dependent on alcohol, which could possibly lead to negatively impacting their relationships and friendships with others, their job and daily tasks, and even their dreams and goals. Find out how CBD could help reduce alcohol withdrawal symptoms, prevent alcohol cravings, and restore endocannabinoids within the brain.
Definition of Alcohol Dependency & Common Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
For those of you who don’t know, alcohol dependence is often referred to as alcoholism, which can result from alcohol abuse. This is characterized as a feeling that one must consume alcohol to function properly as well as a decreased ability to stop drinking even if the desire to do so exists. Oftentimes, people who are dependent on alcohol can develop a tolerance to it, therefore, they end up consuming more over time to feel the same effect they experienced the first time they drank.
Furthermore, if alcoholic dependent individuals stop consuming alcohol whether it’s abrupt or not, they often experience symptoms of withdrawal, which can be mentally and physically intense. Mild alcohol withdrawal symptoms can include anxiety, development of tremors/shakiness, depression, irritability, fatigue, and palpitations. However, severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms are even more intense, which can include seizures, delirium tremens, confused state of mind, changes in mental functioning, hallucinations, irritability, and tremors/shakiness. Surprisingly, severe alcohol withdrawal can lead to death in 1-5 percent of cases. Therefore, if someone is interested in detoxing, it’s best to do so around medical professionals, according to a study on the complications of alcohol withdrawal by NIH.Gov.
Changes in Brain’s CB1 Receptors After Chronic Alcohol Abuse & Monitored Abstinence
In 2014, a Journal of Neuroscience study was conducted, which is extremely informative, and it explains the changes the brain’s CB1 receptors experienced after chronic alcohol abuse and monitored alcohol abstinence. The findings will be briefly discussed below in addition to discussing the role CBD could play in reducing the severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Furthermore, the study utilized PET scans, which help visualize the functioning of the body’s organs and tissues to measure the activity/availability of CB1 receptors within the brain and spinal cord. The study stated the following about CB1 receptors, “CB1 receptor stimulation is involved with subjectively feeling reward/pleasure. However, if the receptors are overstimulated long-term with heavy use of alcohol, their activity/availability will decrease.”
For this study, researchers focused on three groups of people—alcohol non-users, non-dependent alcohol users, and dependent alcohol users. It was found that cannabinoid signaling varies in the brains of alcohol non-users, non-dependent alcohol users, and dependent alcohol users.
Researchers discovered that within the brains of social and non-dependent drinkers, the activity/availability of the body’s endocannabinoid CB1 receptors significantly increased after alcohol was administered into the bloodstream. However, with dependent long-term alcohol users, the activity/availability of the CB1 receptors significantly decreased, even after one month of alcohol abstinence.
According to the same study, after heavy usage of alcohol long-term, the activity/availability of CB1 receptors significantly decreased in the areas of the brain’s cerebellum and the parieto-occipital cortex. These parts of the brain involve coordinating movements, maintaining posture and balance, and planning processes, which are constantly utilized in daily life.
Cannabinoid Therapies & How CBD Could Reduce Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
On another note, it has been found that cannabinoids within CBD act as neuroprotective agents. This could reduce hyperexcitability and prevent cell damage, as stated in different studies and a MedicalJane article. Fortunately, cannabinoid therapies are receiving more attention for their potential to prevent brain damage because of alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
In general, CBD could reduce alcohol withdrawal symptoms among alcohol dependent individuals while also helping prevent insatiable alcohol cravings. Additional research needs to be conducted before going through with cannabinoid therapy options, however, in the future, this could be a natural and safe choice. CBD could reduce alcohol withdrawal symptoms, especially seizures, nausea, and depression since CBD contains anti-seizure, anti-nausea, and anti-depression properties. If users want to consume CBD, they must take a sufficient amount to combat alcoholism, as stated by CannabisHolism.
Moreover, for those who cannot afford attendance in treatment/detox facilities for whatever reasons, CBD can be used as an alternative. Since CBD could reduce alcohol withdrawal symptoms, it’s commonly used as a form of detox that’s more affordable than prescription medications and treatment facilities. Through using CBD, people can self-medicate in ways that suit them and their specific condition.
Diminished Cannabinoids in Alcoholic Brains
According to a CDC.Gov study on alcohol and the brain, researchers discovered a severely diminished prevalence of CB1 receptors in alcoholic brains, and after long-term usage, the presence of endocannabinoids eventually disappear altogether. Once this happens, the body doesn’t contain a natural mechanism to cope with daily stress and anxiety. Fortunately, CBD can naturally replenish the body’s depleted amount of endocannabinoids after they disappear from long-term alcohol abuse and reliance, as mentioned in the CDC.Gov study.
Lastly, in an alcohol and CBD study by NCBI.NLM.GOV, it was found that CBD can diminish uncontrollable alcohol cravings that are often experienced during the detox process; this can be extremely useful and beneficial during this recovery stage.
In sum, an ending statistic comes from CDC.GOV, which attributes over 88,000 annual deaths to complications from alcohol withdrawal while even more suffer from other serious side effects. Therefore, since CBD could reduce alcohol withdrawal symptoms and naturally replenish the body and brain’s supply of endocannabinoids, this natural compound should be studied further so that it could be commonly used by those recovering from alcohol dependency/abuse.