Does CBD Help With Heroin Detox Symptoms?
Heroin addiction is a serious problem in the United States, with overdosing killing hundreds of thousands of Americans in the last few decades. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), more than 67,300 Americans died from a drug-involved overdose in 2018, including illicit drugs and prescription opioids. Drug overdose deaths rose from 38,329 in 2010 to 70,237 in 2017; followed by a significant decrease in 2018 to 67,367 deaths.
About the Opioid Addiction Crisis
The opioid crisis has destroyed countless families, careers, relationships, and is a massive drain on the economy, costing billions annually in law enforcement costs, lost productivity, and medical and emergency costs. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive, non-addictive compound found in the cannabis plant, including industrial hemp. CBD doesn’t get you high like another cannabis compound — the more well-known THC. So how can CBD help with the opioid crisis?
What are the Symptoms of Heroin Withdrawal?
Heroin withdrawal can be debilitating and very uncomfortable. The withdrawal symptoms can last anywhere from a week to months. This is enough to drive people to relapse, which often leads to overdose and death. Fear of withdrawal is the main reason people continue the addiction cycle.
Some of the most common withdrawal symptoms associated with heroin withdrawal and detox include:
- Abdominal cramps
- Muscle aches
- Joint pain
- Dilated pupils
- Flu symptoms
Can CBD Help With Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms?
To minimize heroin withdrawal symptoms, people may take medication (over-the-counter or prescription) to help and CBD has become a common self-help detox aid. You want the experience of detoxing from heroin to be as comfortable as possible with little to no withdrawal symptoms, but can CBD achieve this?
According to research, CBD’s interaction with the endocannabinoid system may be beneficial in helping those with some level of heroin dependence.
For example, a May 2019 study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry involved individuals who had previously abstained from heroin use but still struggled with two common symptoms of opioid withdrawal: anxiety and cravings.
Are There Benefits to Using CBD During Heroin Detox?
After analyzing the data, researchers found that the immediate effects were significant compared to the placebo, with participants experiencing lower rates of anxiety and reduced cravings 1 hour, 2 hours, and 24 hours after the first dose was given. These positive impacts were still noted seven days post-treatment, with no adverse side effects.
This suggests that CBD products have additional medical use, which is a more successful recovery from opiate withdrawal. At a minimum, this cannabis compound can potentially help recovering addicts by improving their quality of life during their sobriety, simply by reducing these symptoms.
More About Heroin Detox and CBD
If you are thinking about taking CBD to get off heroin, know that it might not work for everyone. While studies have reported reduced heroin cravings in a controlled setting, at-home surveys indicated some individuals continued to experience the same level of cravings once back in their previous environment.
You should never try to detox off heroin yourself without contacting a medical professional first. We At Allure Detox can help you safely detox from heroin.
Program giving out free cannabis to help opioid users in London, Ont., met with skepticism
Cannabis Substitution Program in London since April, similar initiatives in Halifax and Vancouver
Every Tuesday, Mary McCarty and a group of volunteers sets up a small table outside a London, Ont., church to hand out free cannabis and cannabis edibles to a line of people that often runs well down the block.
She's part of a group called the Cannabis Substitution Program, a volunteer-run organization that hands out free cannabis and cannabis edibles to people who use drugs.
The group claims "high-dose" edibles — as much as 100 mg of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) served in baked goods — can serve as a treatment and replacement for opioids and other drugs.
The cannabis is donated and paid for by private citizens, it says.
McCarty and other volunteers have been handing it out in London since April, with similar initiatives in Halifax and Vancouver.
"I thought, 'You know what? London needs one of these,'" McCarty said. "It's ridiculous what's going on."
She said she's seen first hand how cannabis has changed the lives of people suffering from addiction.
"People come and thank us all the time."
Experts say evidence is lacking
But evidence supporting the claims is scarce, a researcher says.
"I'm not aware of any evidence to suggest that would be effective as a substitute for opioid-related dependence and addiction," said Steven Laviolette, professor in the School of Medicine and Dentistry at Western University in London.
Laviolette's research focuses on neurobiological and developmental mechanisms underlying various psychiatric disorders, including opioid addiction. He said high doses of THC may even be counterproductive in trying to give up opioids.
"THC has been shown to cause overactivation of addiction pathways in the brain," he said. "It could make it even worse because THC would be ramping up the brain's addiction pathways and could potentially make problems like relapse and withdrawal an even greater issue for people suffering with opioid dependence."
But he said that doesn't mean cannabis products can't be used to help treat addiction.
He has conducted research into the use of cannabidiol (CBD), another compound found in cannabis, in treating amphetamine addiction.
"We were able to show that it quite literally blocked the activation of these drugs on the dopamine neurons, so the neurons would stop firing in the presence of CBD," he said. "That has really strong implications for CBD as an anti-addiction treatment."
He said there has been promising research in the United States about CBD as a potential aid in treating opioid addiction as well.
While THC may not be an effective treatment for opioid addiction, said Laviolette, it may be helpful with some of the symptoms of opioid withdrawal — like nausea and tremors.
"But it's putting a bandage on [the problem], right?" he said. "It's not solving the underlying addictive properties. It's not solving the underlying opioid-related changes in the brain."
Group wants permanent location
Supporters say they've seen those effects first hand.
"To be honest, weed will never cure dope sickness," said Stefan Nichol, outreach director at Impact Church, and a supporter of the substitution program. "But it does help people sleep through a day of it."
Word has caught on that edibles are available, and while volunteers are only doing handouts for about two hours per week, as many as 200 people will line up.
McCarty said the next step is a permanent storefront in London to help provide low-barrier access to cannabis for people who can't afford to purchase from other retailers.
She plans to move to Winnipeg soon, and intends to start another program.