Is CBD the Solution to the Opioid Crisis?
There’s a quiet crisis that not many people are talking about. In fact, physicians are perhaps contributing to it. Opioid use (and abuse) is on the rise on this country, with a fourfold increase of prescriptions from 2009. There’s also an estimated 19,000 deaths caused by opioid abuse. That is to say, the diagnosis for the opioid crisis doesn’t look great, and we need to look for an opioid alternative.
That potential solution seems to be CBD, or Cannabidiol. But before we can credit CBD as the solution to the Opioid epidemic, it’s important to first understand what are considered Opioids and how they work.
What are Opioids?
Opioids are a class of drugs that chemically resemble and interact with Opioid receptors on nerve cells in the body and brain. Opioids can be both illegal and legal, and include:
Although many Opioids are generally safe when prescribed by a doctor and used correctly, they also have huge abusive potential due to the attendant “high” you get from them. To fully understand why individuals become “hooked” to Opioids, we have to take a closer inspection of Opioids’ effect on the brain.
How do Opioids Affect the Brain?
Like we have seen with cannabinoids, Opioids resemble endogenous chemicals that are already produced in your body. When Opioids enter your system, say oxycodone, chemicals bind to receptors in the brain and create the “opioid effect,” which inhibits pain, slows breathing, and has a calming effect.
This image demonstrates how Opioids are able to pair with receptors in our brain like natural neurotransmitters would. Once paired, Opioids “turn the ignition” of the receptors to activate a response. As a result, the brain is flooded with dopamine, the chemical responsible for movement, emotion, motivation, cognition, and pleasure. It’s because of this point that abuse of Opioids is so commonplace.
Individuals caught in the web of addiction become hooked to the dopaminergic high that comes with opioid use. Then, the brain gets stuck in a loop where it can only achieve the same high with greater and greater doses, creating a vicious cycle.
Opioid addiction is also characterized by intense withdrawal symptoms like pain, vomiting, and anxiety, leading to high rates of relapse.
Indeed, it seems like there is a vicious cycle in the way we prescribe Opioids. Doctors rely on the pain-subsiding effects of Opioids to give to their patients, but that inevitably leads to greater addiction and misuse. What can be done?
Is CBD the Answer to the Opioid Crisis?
Recent developments suggest that CBD, or Cannabidiol, could be one successful opioid alternative. Studies have shown that states with medical marijuana laws (THC and CBD) have 25% fewer Opioid-related deaths than those without. There are also studies which show that CBD has a diminishing effect on drug cravings, which could be important because of the high relapse rates associated with Opioids. While studies are encouraging, it’s important to understand why CBD shows so much promise to fight off the opioid crisis.
CBD and Reward
In a study published in Planta Medica, researchers discovered that CBD has the potential to block opioid reward. The study, conducted at the University of Mississippi, showed that morphine did not have the same effect on mice after with a dosage of CBD. The CBD acted as a sort of “blocker” to the pleasure-chasing effects of morphine.
While it is not exactly known how CBD has a limiting effect on Opioids, it is suspected to involve serotonin receptors. We know that is specific serotonin receptors are are blocked, CBD no longer has an Opioid-dulling effect. For this reason, the serotonin system holds the secret to CBD’s Opioid-reducing effect.
Make CBD, not An Opioid Crisis
Research is still in its early stages but there is much evidence to support CBD as an alternative to opioids. We’ve seen how the opioid crisis has ravaged millions of lives and shows no signs of slowing down. We’ve also been a witness to the vicious cycle opioids can trigger. If you are a person who has struggled with opioid addiction in the past, perhaps it’s time to give CBD a try to to potentially relieve your symptoms. Hemp Bombs has full line of CBD products that are prepared by lab professionals for consumers and third-party lab tested for your safety. Perhaps they are the solution you have been looking for.