Over 25 million Americans are classified as addicts, and the majority of us know at least one friend or family member who is an addict. Despite the fact that addiction has been classified as a brain disorder, many of us still don’t understand it, and tend to look upon addicts with an unsympathetic view.
However, addiction is, in fact, a disease, which requires proper care and treatment so that the sufferer can recover and live a healthier life.
However, there are various treatment options for addicts, and the more we learn about the disease, the better we can treat it for generations to come. Now, if you or a loved one is suffering from an addiction, it’s imperative to speak with a doctor before choosing to go the holistic route, such as taking cannabidiol (CBD). We, at Nectar Wellness, are not authorized to provide medical advice, nor are we intending to offer it.
What is Addiction?
Addiction is a brain disease characterized by compulsive behavior in exchange for a fast release of pleasure from the neurotransmitters in the brain. Addicts will behave compulsively regardless of the consequences of their actions, which is the major way in which addicts differ from nonaddicts. Essentially, to be classified as an addict, you must have an inability to control your compulsive behavior.
Addiction is destructive, as shown from these two reasons:
- The addict’s mind is constantly preoccupied with their addiction, which can greatly interfere with their ability to live a functional, healthy and productive life.
- Many common addictions are damaging in a variety of ways:
- For instance, alcohol addiction can lead to major health consequences, as can many drug addictions.
- Gambling addictions often lead to a loss of personal funds.
- Sexual addictions are damaging to one’s ability to maintain a healthy romantic relationship.
What Causes Addiction?
To an extent, addiction may be genetic. Scientists have been able to find that an addict’s brain is wired in a unique way, and this may be passed on between generations. But, largely, addiction is a result of psychological trauma. If this trauma occurs early on in life, it can change the architecture of the brain in a way that interrupts a person’s ability to derive pleasure from daily life. And so, they engage in an addiction because it provides a rush of dopamine that compensates for that lack of day-to-day pleasure.
How is Addiction Usually Treated?
There are several ways to treat addiction, but they all require some form of therapeutic intervention. It is not recommended that an addict attempt to treat themselves without some form of professional guidance.
To this day, 12-step programs remain a very popular addiction treatment method. They involve a group setting in which each member holds the rest accountable, and then utilizes a series of steps that each aim to rehabilitate a person’s life.
However, not every addict wants to opt for a 12-step program, and not every addict may respond to it. Other options exist. For some people, standard one-on-one behavioral therapy is sufficient.
An important point to remember, however, is that in order to treat an addiction, any potential underlying factors must also be addressed. If the addiction is the result of emotional trauma, it’s important that the addict receives therapy for that trauma, as simply ceasing the addictive behavior is not enough. Not addressing the underlying issue will increase the likelihood of a relapse.
Is CBD Advisable for Addicts?
Some people may be suspicious of using cannabidiol for addicts due to its association with marijuana, which is a psychoactive drug that people may become addicted to. But, it’s important to know that CBD and marijuana are, simply put, two different things. CBD is the dominant compound in the hemp plant. Both hemp and marijuana belong to the cannabis genus, but hemp and hemp derivatives cannot get a person high because they don’t contain the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) level present in marijuana. THC is the psychoactive compound, and hemp only has 0.3 percent of it or less – that’s simply not enough to alter one’s mind.
Cannabidiol is also nontoxic and nonaddictive, which is why a CBD routine can be safely maintained by an addict. It’s completely legal as well.
CBD’s Role in Regulating Cravings and Neurotransmitter Activity
Cannabinoids like CBD have a unique role in both the functions of the mind & body. Cannabinoids are fed to the endocannabinoid system directly, which is a system made up of cannabinoid receptors found everywhere throughout the body. What these receptors do is regulate adjacent functions of the body. Cannabinoid receptors in the brain regulate neurotransmitter responses as well as cravings, among other things.
At this point, we have access to several studies showing the potential that cannabidiol has to regulate addictive behaviors. In one finding, opioid addicts were administered CBD with promising results, with the cannabinoid decreasing withdrawal effects and overall cravings.
Also, because addiction involves a series of neurotransmitter responses, and cannabidiol has a regulatory effect on these neurotransmitters, CBD may change the reward mechanism associated with engaging in addictive behaviors.
CBD and Stress
Also is worth noting that cannabidiol’s calming properties may have a role. Many addicts are more prone to engage in addictive behaviors if they are psychologically triggered by stress. Similarly, those who have recovered from addiction are more likely to relapse when they are under a lot of stress. Stress involves the secretion of cortisol which can throw dopamine and serotonin levels off-balance, thus leading a person to look for a quick fix to experience feelings of satisfaction and pleasure.
Could CBD Be a Helpful Tool to Combat Addiction in the United States?
The brain of an addict is largely misunderstood, but the more we learn about it, the more we can treat this disease. Because of what we now know about how addiction works; many researchers are suggesting that cannabidiol may be a promising option. Thanks to the fascinating way in which CBD interacts with the brain, we may see additional addiction specialists gravitating toward CBD in the near future.