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CBD and Sobriety

Is CBD safe for those in recovery?

Medicinal use of marijuana is on the rise, and, for those of us in recovery, there are a thousand forms of fear that follow. I got sober in a 12-step fellowship, one that is set firmly upon a foundation of total abstinence. It's no surprise that the legalization of such a substance has sparked up quite the controversy. Is CBD medicinal or recreational? Most importantly, is it safe to use CBD products if you are an addict?

According to Project CBD: "Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring compound, found in the resinous flower of cannabis, a plant with a rich history, as a medicine going back thousands of years. Today the therapeutic properties of CBD are being tested and confirmed by scientists and doctors around the world. A safe, non-addictive substance, CBD is one of more than a hundred “phytocannabinoids,” which are unique to cannabis, and endow the plant with its robust therapeutic profile."

In order to better gauge the risk factors of taking CBD while in recovery, it's important that we first look at the facts about CBD:

  • Unlike your typical dose of marijuana, CBD is not psychoactive and does not produce mind-altering sensations.
  • CBD, absent of THC, can be derived from hemp/cannabis plants.
  • CBD is legal almost everywhere, and the restrictions vary state by state.
  • Advocates of CBD claim that it has medicinal and therapeutic benefits, such as relieving anxiety, managing chronic pain, preventing seizures, anti-inflammatory properties, and anti-depression effects.
  • CBD is available in the form of pills, cream, and oils.
  • Cannabinoids have a profound effect on the endocannabinoid system, and most specifically responsible for memory, motor coordination, pain perception, temperature control, mood, sleep, bone growth, nerve/brain tissue, immune function, appetite, and metabolism.

CBD and THC are both components of cannabis, but THC is what produces the euphoric “high.” We all have cannabinoid receptors in our brains. THC stimulates these receptors, thus producing a sense of euphoria. CBD, however, does not interact with the cannabinoid receptors, and therefore does not stimulate a high. These interactions separate the level of risks associated with each component. For example, there is a much higher risk of addiction when consuming THC, while CBD does not contain any addictive properties.

My personal fears of relapse were called into question, after reading over the facts about CBD. The ever-increasing list of benefits of CBD has prompted many conversations within the recovery community. The truth is, I was born with an innate desire to manipulate, distort, and exhibit drug-seeking behaviors. The question is, does that same thought process within the realm of considering CBD? I am fundamentally wired to always seek the easier softer way. For those of us, in recovery, it all boils down to wants versus needs. It is important that any person, in recovery, takes an honest look at their motives, and consults with their sober support.

A recent study with animals, by the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, discovered that the brain’s serotonin receptors are ignited by CBD. This was found to be directly related to a reduction in drug-seeking behavior. In this study, CBD oil was administered to rats after they were given alcohol and cocaine. The results indicated that even five months after CBD had left their systems, the rats did not engage in drug-seeking behaviors.

It wouldn't be too far fetched to determine that marijuana and its addictive properties could place a recovering addict at high risk for abuse, and ultimately lead to relapse. Lacking in psychoactive components, CBD does not fall into the same category as marijuana. In fact, this debate calls the wants/needs assessment into question. Accidents, surgeries, and even illnesses can arise for even those in recovery. It is important for CBD to be taken under guidance in the exact amount, for the exact amount of time prescribed.