cbd oil for recovered alcoholics


Many in the recovery community are unsure or confused about whether they can use CBD products and remain sober. I have been in recovery and sober for almost twelve years and active in a 12-Step program, but I still find myself cautious about new products and information.

Many people in recovery who are overcoming alcoholism, drug abuse and other addictions grew up with untreated mental illness. They found alcohol and other substances down the line to treat their anxiety, depression and other mental health matters. The majority still suffer from these illnesses, even after they become sober.


Contrary to the myth repeated by a fringe few, the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob, recommended psychiatric drugs and other remedies as part of one’s recovery. Bill Wilson, co-founder of AA consulted with one of the most prominent psychiatrists of all time, Dr. Carl Jung when researching alcoholism.

Page 133 of the Big Book, AA’s main guideline and instruction, states, “Now about health: A body badly burned by alcohol does not often recover overnight nor do twisted thinking and depression vanish in a twinkling.

God has abundantly supplied this world with fine doctors, psychologists, and practitioners of various kinds. Do not hesitate to take your health problems to such persons. Most of them give freely of themselves, that their fellows may enjoy sound minds and bodies. Try to remember that though God has wrought miracles among us, we should never belittle a good doctor or psychiatrist. Their services are often indispensable in treating a newcomer and in following his case afterward.”

In AA and many other 12-Step programs, there is widespread support for using other therapies, prescriptions and natural supplements to support recovery.


Medications prescribed by psychiatrists can do wonders and are sometimes necessary; but what about alternatives like CBD products? CBD has been successful in treating anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), insomnia, seizure, pain relief, acne, cancer, epilepsy and seems to be a neuroprotective in general.

CBD is an acronym for cannabidiol, a compound that occurs naturally in both marijuana and hemp. It’s found in very high concentrations in certain strains of hemp and is widely regarded to possess great medicinal value.

It is not psychoactive, which means it won’t get you high, unlike the compound THC, which produces the mind-altering sensations found within marijuana. Because it doesn’t have psychoactive effects, CBD is legal almost everywhere, and any restriction depends on the legal status of cannabis in that state. If you are using CBD derived from industrial hemp, you do not need a prescription. It is available in different forms, including oils, pills, or topical creams.

Jim Hefner, the founder of Sunrise CBD says, “CBD is non-intoxicating and won’t produce the effects of marijuana. Many users do, however, report feelings of calm and relaxation.” He adds, “CBD affects everyone differently, and the effects depend on the amount taken and the length of time you’ve been taking it. While some users report an increased sense of well-being, they also report fewer headaches, less pain and better sleep — without any intoxicating effects. It is important to take a sufficiently high dose. 50 mg to 100 mg a day is generally our clients’ feedback.”


Dr. Julie Holland

Yasmin Hurd was the lead researcher on a recent study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry that found CBD suppresses the cues or triggers associated with heroin use. “The intense craving is what drives the drug use,” Hurd, director of the Addiction Institute of Mount Sinai, told CNN. “If we can have the medications that can dampen that [craving], that can greatly reduce the chance of relapse and overdose risk.”

While studies show the use of CBD for addiction treatment may be effective, it’s unclear exactly how it works. One theory, Hurd said, is that CBD may affect “how brain cells that have been damaged by opioids communicate with each other.”

CBD Psychiatrist Dr. Julie Holland is former assistant professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine. She said CBD goes a step beyond reducing the anxiety and cravings associated with addiction.

“It also diminishes the original pain and inflammation that leads to opiate use in the first place,” Holland told CNN.

Shereef Elnahal, M.D., the commissioner of New Jersey’s Department of Health agrees. “CBD has promising effects on pain, which could make it an effective substitute for opioids,” he told Yahoo News.

A preliminary report published in November 2017 by the World Health Organization concluded that naturally occurring CBD is safe and well-tolerated in humans (and animals) and isn’t associated with abuse potential. However, the WHO said adverse effects from interactions between CBD and patients’ existing medications may exist. If you are currently on other medications, check with your doctor before starting a CBD regimen.


Addiction recovery is a very personal journey, and everyone gets to make their own final decision. There will never be a straightforward answer to these kinds of questions because ultimately, it’s up to you. One can abuse anything to check out and escape reality, from alcohol to food, sex to sugar. Because CBD does not produce euphoria, it is unlikely to lead to that type of use. And since it likely doesn’t carry significant negative consequences like a failed drug test or incarceration, you should feel safe using it for anxiety, depression, pain, or another issue you are facing in recovery.

CBD and Sobriety

With the change in legal status for marijuana that is taking place in various parts of the country, cannabis is a drug that is easier than ever to obtain. In certain states, medical dispensaries can be found on every corner and even in open retail shops where you simply need to show ID. Because marijuana is a growing industry, there are a myriad of different products that are filtering into people’s daily lives and some like CBD can even be found in grocery stores.

In the world of recovery, it can be confusing and difficult to navigate your feelings amidst the changes accompanying marijuana legalization. Certain products may seem harmless and the idea that they are legal opens the door for recreational use even among people that rarely use the drug. CBD is one product that seems to walk a fine line between being a harmless “healthy” option and a substance that is still in the realm of drug use.

People in recovery may wonder if they can use products like CBD oil or other related items and still consider themselves sober. Is it safe to use CBD or is it putting you at risk for experiencing a relapse? Before using this product it may be helpful to consider what it is and how it will affect you.

What is CBD?

Although it is often touted for its natural health benefits, CBD stands for cannabidiol and it is still one of the compounds found in the cannabis plant. One reason CBD is considered safe for some people is because it has no THC in it and therefore has no psychoactive effects. CBD is legal to sell anywhere depending on the legal status of cannabis in that particular state.

CBD is advertised with many health claims that suggest it has medicinal effects including relaxation, pain relief, reducing inflammation and calming anxiety. CBD can be purchased in many different forms including oils, lotions, pills, drinks, edibles and other options. As is the case with other types of marijuana, CBD is available in different levels of dosage ranging from around 5 to 45 mg.

Although many believe the substance to be harmless and even positive for stress relief, it remains controversial in the recovery community. Former addicts may view it as a potential gateway to other types of substance abuse. Even though CBD itself is not a mind-altering drug it could possibly trigger a relapse in some individuals that may be more vulnerable.

Therapeutic Use vs Relapse

There are different opinions about the safety of using CBD if you have struggled with addiction in the past. Many people have experienced the therapeutic effects of CBD without any drawbacks or feeling tempted to use drugs again. For people with issues of pain, stress or anxiety it may be similar to taking mild medication or herbal remedies but it depends on the individual person.

In other cases, CBD may open the door for some people to believe that taking certain substances is okay. If they can use CBD for their healthy, why not use something with THC or marijuana? Once they feel comfortable taking substances related to cannabis it could potentially escalate into other types of drugs use and lead to a relapse.

Some people in the recovery community have very strict beliefs about never taking any kind of substance again even in the case of medication. Those in the abstinence only camp may view CBD as just another substance used as a method of escape which will inevitably lead to problems. They will assert that using a substance as coping mechanism is ineffective and leads to addiction.

It is up to each individual’s personal beliefs whether they feel comfortable taking CBD or whether they fear it will trigger relapse. Technically CBD is not a mind-altering drug but more like an herbal medication but it might mentally feel like taking a drug. For those who are more addicted to the idea of drug use then CBD may not be safe for them.

Staying Sober with CBD

For those in recovery who feel that they might benefit from the use of CBD, it is important to maintain a very clear line between the use of this type of product and other drugs. CBD has no psychoactive properties but other marijuana products do and they should be avoided at all costs. Understanding the serious difference between using an oil for relaxation and ingesting a drug with THC can help prevent you from crossing the line.

If have any concerns or hesitation about using CBD then it might be a good idea to avoid taking it. There are many other options for pain relief and relaxation that will have much less potential for relapse. CBD is likely to remain controversial in the recovery community and sometimes the safest solution is to steer clear of any drug that you feel would be dangerous to your sobriety.