Everyone’s talking about CBD and the many wonders it seems to provide – but why, and what is it? Is it safe? Is it legal? Is it a drug? Is it a medicine? Most importantly, is it advisable for people in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction?
Cannabidiol, otherwise known as CBD, is gaining in popularity since the legalization of medical and recreational cannabis, and users are reporting amazing results. This substance is nothing new. It was discovered in 1940, and is one of 113 identified cannabinoids in cannabis plants, and is actually up to 40% of the extract taken from those plants. What makes it different from whole cannabis, you ask? Well, the amazing thing about CBD is that although it seems to have healing properties, it is not at all psychotropic. In other words, it has no effect on the user’s mental state; it is simply felt physically. Most studies show that it is not addictive, and for many who use it, it seems to be somewhat of a miracle drug.
How CBD Works & How It Helps
CBD can be ingested in a number of ways, including through inhalation, via aerosol spray into the mouth, orally, or topically. It can be used for a broad range of issues including lowering blood pressure, providing relief for side-effects of cancer treatments, alleviating chronic pain, improving heart health, lessening anxiety, treating acne and other skin conditions, and treating inflammation, to name a few. Perhaps most exciting is the effects that CBD can have on reducing epilepsy, particularly in children. Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a CBD medication called Epidiolex to treat two rare forms of epilepsy in children. Although this is the only CBD-based drug they have approved so far, this is a big step for the extract, indeed.
CBD works on the human endocannabinoid system. This system is named after the cannabis plant, and is made up of receptors and molecules that exist within the body’s organs. This system works to create equilibrium within the human body through its many receptors, and help to regular memory, coordination, pain perception, mood, sleep, bone growth, immune function, metabolism, and more. Some scientists now believe that the endocannabinoid system is a big part of human health and fitness. Cannabinoids in general have a major effect on this system, which is why medical marijuana is so effective. CBD in particular helps to connect these systems and create a balance without any psychoactive effects.
Despite the approval of Epidiolex, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) continues to classify CBD as a Schedule I drug – which means it has “no currently accepted medical use and a potential for abuse” due to its direct connection with cannabis in general, which also remains under that classification, despite the growing number of states that are legalizing both medical and recreational marijuana for use by the public. However, upon approval of this epilepsy drug, the DEA labeled the drug itself a Schedule 5 drug. This is a rare classification that indicates the lowest potential for addiction and abuse. This classification seems to express the opposite of the DEA’s position on CBD in general, and likely shows hope for the development of more government approved, CBD-based medicines in the future.
With that said, though, some CBD is legal in all fifty U.S. states, and some is not. CDB that is derived from industrial hemp is legal – just like industrial hemp. CBD that is taken from cannabis is legal in most states, with a few outliers. In Idaho, Nebraska, and South Dakota, all cannabis – legal and recreational marijuana and CBD – is entirely illegal. Other states allow cannabis-based CBD under certain parameters. For example, Alabama only allows legal access to CBD for people who are part of a state-sponsored clinical trial, or for individuals who are currently under treatment for a debilitating medical condition. Georgia allows doctors to prescribe it for certain conditions. Other states, including Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Texas, among others, have similar laws in place.
CBD & Addiction Recovery
It seems clear that CBD gets results for many people who are suffering, and that many medical professionals recognize those results. But the question remains – is it safe and wise for individuals in recovery? Science seems to say yes. CBD’s ability to create balance within the body can help individuals in recovery with a great number of the withdrawal symptoms that they may experience. The regulation of dopamine receptors during this vital part of becoming clean and sober may decrease an individual’s struggles with excessive hunger, insomnia, lethargy, physical pain, nausea, mood swings, and more.
There are some studies out there that back this up, too. One recent study by the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego found that the brain’s serotonin receptors are stimulated by CBD. This can help people in recovery feel better, and can help to keep them from seeking drugs in order to self-medicate both physically and mentally. Another study, published in Neuropsychopharmacology last year, found that seven days of consistent application of transdermal CBD resulted in up to five months or more of relapse deterrence in animals. These results are quite promising, and seem to verify that CBD can help recovering addicts stay clean and sober in both the short and long term.
The Decision is Yours
In the end, the decision of whether or not to use CBD is up to the individual. Some individuals in recovery choose to avoid it simple because it is not really regulated at this point; some fear that it’s possible that CBD’s psychoactive cousin, THC, may have slipped into the mix, and feel that consumption of that cannabinoid may threaten their recovery. Others are concerned about the potential and mostly minor side effects of CBD such as dry mouth, low blood pressure, and lightheadedness. Still others await further research before trying it. No matter what you decide, choose what is right for you. Whether you indulge in CBD products or avoid them completely, their growth and applications are certainly interesting, and it will be exciting to see what happens with them next.
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