What is CBD? It is a chemical that is found naturally in Marijuana that people are starting to experiment with and tap into the potential healing properties.
When most people refer to marijuana and the high that it produces, they are not normally referring to CBD. They are usually talking about THC, which is the psychoactive component that is most responsible for producing the high from the drug.
If THC is the sledgehammer within the drug, then CBD is like a tiny little mallet. It has a much more mild effect when compared with THC, and it also does some other things within the body that THC does not do.
Live Trading News reports that “Unlike THC, the primary psychoactive cannabinoid in Marijuana, CBD is non-psychoactive and is known to have anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, anti-psychotic, and anti-convulsant properties.”
Currently it is not well defined how addictive CBD may or may not be. In many states, vaporizer shops that sell nicotine oil to be used in vapes are also starting to sell CBD oil as well. So in some places people are able to get CBD over the counter and experiment with it to see if it helps them in certain ways.
There are a number of potential issues here in regards to drug addiction and recovery.
One issue is the current trend that is threatening to develop that involves people using marijuana as MAT for other addictions. What is MAT? It stands for “medication assisted treatment” and an example of it would be someone who is using methadone in order to remain clean from heroin. Another example would be someone who is using Suboxone in order to remain off of opiate based painkillers. Or someone taking Vivitrol in order to reduce alcohol cravings.
Different medications that are used to treat addiction might have different goals. One medication intends to be a total replacement drug, while another may only seek to reduce cravings. Different medications can seek to accomplish different things, and the medical community is really just starting to experiment and learn more about these various approaches. In terms of modern medicine, treating addiction with medication is a fairly new and novel idea that is just starting to gain more traction.
In the case of CBD, this could very well evolve into an MAT solution for certain individuals who are seeking recovery, but who don’t want to be intoxicated or medicated at the level that THC produces.
In other words, there is a trend developing in which some scientists are saying “Hey, let’s do a study in which we take 30 heroin IV users and put them through a short stay in rehab, then give them therapy and a marijuana regiment in order to see if smoking marijuana every day will help them to stay clean.” Then they are, of course, using a control group that is given the same therapy but they are smoking a placebo substance that contains no active THC or CBD at all and is completely drug free. Then they compare the results to see if marijuana is able to help them resist the urge to relapse on heroin or other opiates.
I believe that the initial findings with studies such as this are that you can successfully replace one drug with another in some cases, and marijuana has the ability to be effective in harm reduction. Some day we may even see treatment facilities that specialize in this sort of treatment. It would be interesting to see long term studies that compare traditional recovery (no MAT, no marijuana) to another group that basically uses marijuana every day as a solution to avoid opiates. I suspect that if you measure them early in recovery that the marijuana smokers are doing great at not relapsing on heroin, but after a year or two, my suspicion is that the control group without the marijuana is doing better. Even though more of the control group probably relapsed early on while the marijuana smokers were doing fine, later on more of the marijuana smokers probably reverted back to opiates. That is just my suspicion though based on watching my peers in recovery who have drifted away from the core program to give “marijuana maintenance” a try. They do well at first but inevitably come back to the program later after they realize that marijuana is still a drug that can fully medicate their emotional state, and therefore they eventually abuse the drug in order to escape from a reality that they dislike, instead of facing reality and finding real solutions.
So how does this compare to CBD? Smoking marijuana with THC is one thing, and I believe that it is addictive in the sense that you can get so high in a smoking session that you forget how bad of a mood you were in. Just like alcohol has the power to deliver you into oblivion, smoking enough THC will allow you to “erase” a bad day you may be having.
Can CBD do the same thing? I suspect that it cannot. While I have not experimented with it myself, reports online seem to indicate that it is not addictive. Perhaps time will tell a different tale, especially if the addiction industry attempts to use CBD to help addicts to deal with anxiety. Or it may use CBD as a replacement drug because it is so much less harmful than something such as heroin IV.
Perhaps some day we will live in world in which people will check into a rehab center and they will be handed a vaporizer that has a combination of medications in it that include CBD and a few other choice chemicals. These could target various conditions such as anxiety, chronic pain, even seizure disorder or seizure risk (for alcoholics). Certainly the behavior of using a replacement drug in early recovery is going to allow you to post better success rates in the beginning, such as with 30 day sobriety rates versus someone with no MAT at all. But in the long run with something like a 3 or 5 year comparison, it is not clear to me that using MAT as harm reduction is going to produce any better results than good old fashioned therapy, group support, and traditional recovery practices. Time will tell.