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CBD & Opioids (A Startling Connection)

The opioid epidemic in this nation has long been an issue fueled in many cases by legally obtained, prescribed medications that often leads to serious dependency and drug addiction, touches every socioeconomic demographic and in every kind of community across the nation. Of course, there are those who have found themselves in the addiction cycle via other(illicit) avenues, but at the end of the day, regardless how a person arrives in this situation is doesn’t change its impact on the addict, their families and friends, outcomes that are frequently tragic.

The CDC reported more than 81,000 people died from drug overdose in the 12 months ending May

2020, expressing concern at the rise in incidents that correlated with the pandemic shut down. There is no good day when considering the United States’ opioid-related death statistics. Opioids include prescription opioids, heroin and synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl. The increase in cocaine overdose deaths also rose during this period (26.5 percent), as did psychostimulants such as methamphetamine (34.8 percent). Clinical trials have shown CBD oil can help reduce anxiety and cravings for opioids and while this may not be the answer for every situation, given the pervasiveness, every solution is worthy of consideration.

We’ve touched on how cannabidiol receptors located throughout the body promotes CBD’s effectiveness, as CBD attaches to the nearest receptors and encourages the body’s release of its own endocannabinoids. Within each body, there is also an opioid neuropeptide system that controls pain, reward and addiction function and is understood to operate similarly to cannabidiol receptors. CBD is not psychoactive and is not considered to be addictive. Preliminary studies have shown CBD (and yes, even TCH, though psychoactive) may not only help prevent addiction, but can be used to prevent relapse during recovery.

And yet, thanks to a fabulous messaging campaign begun in the 1920’s and further hardened with the cult classic film “Reefer Madness” released in 1936, generations of Americans have become very well indoctrinated about the evils of weed/pot/marijuana/the devil’s flower/lettuce etc. , we’re still working on overcoming CBD and THC stigma.

There is a belief that if a drug is prescribed, it’s acceptable. This belief has lead to bigger problems including criminal behaviors and subsequent incarceration as opioid prescribing increased the first time in the mid-1990s and again in 2010. While those numbers have decreased 29 percent over the past couple years, a good start, there’s still a long way to go in getting a handle on the issue of over-prescribing and addiction treatment.

The mindset that prescribed drugs including opioids are acceptable, must shift if we’re to overcome the fact that eventually, one of every four patients receiving prescribed opioids are shown to struggle with addiction issues. The epidemic has far reaching consequences and a range of adverse costs to society and community. CBD and endeavoring to study further its possible role in helping reduce opioid addiction would be dollars well spent. The lives that could potentially be saved would be a priceless outcome as well.


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