Cannabidiol Oil for Decreasing Addictive Use of Marijuana: A Case Report
This case study illustrates the use of cannabidiol (CBD) oil to decrease the addictive use of marijuana and provide anxiolytic and sleep benefits. Addiction to marijuana is a chronic, relapsing disorder, which is becoming a prevalent condition in the United States. The most abundant compound in the marijuana, which is called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), has been widely studied and known for its psychoactive properties. The second most abundant component—CBD—has been suggested to have the medicinal effects of decreasing anxiety, improving sleep, and other neuro-protective effects. The mechanism of action for CBD has been suggested to be antagonistic to the psychoactive properties of THC in many locations within the central nervous system. Such action raises the issue of whether it might be beneficial to use CBD in isolation to facilitate withdrawal of marijuana use. The specific use of CBD for marijuana reduction has not been widely studied.
The patient was a 27-y-old male who presented with a long-standing diagnosis of bipolar disorder and a daily addiction to marijuana use. In the described intervention, the only change made to the patient’s treatment was the addition of CBD oil with the dosage gradually decreasing from 24 to 18 mg. With use of the CBD oil, the patient reported being less anxious, as well as settling into a regular pattern of sleep. He also indicated that he had not used any marijuana since starting the CBD oil. With the decrease in the dosage to 18 mg, the patient was able to maintain his nonuse of marijuana.
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is a naturally occurring constituent of industrial hemp and marijuana collectively called cannabis. CBD oil is one of at least 85 cannabinoid compounds found in cannabis and is popular for its medicinal benefits. After tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the most abundant compound in cannabis, CBD is the second most abundant. Other names for CBD oil include CBD-rich hemp oil, hemp-derived CBD oil, or CBD-rich cannabis oil. CBD is generally considered to be safe and has been used medicinally for decades. The suggested medicinal effects of CBD include decreasing anxiety, improving sleep, and providing other neuroprotective effects.
THC is a cannabinoid and is the component that induces the euphoric psychoactive effect. Various cannabis plants can have different amounts of CBD and THC depending on the strain, and, thus, can provide different recreational or medicinal effects. The cannabinoid profile of industrial hemp or medical marijuana is ideal for people looking for the medical benefits of CBD without the high of the THC. The mechanism of action for CDB has been suggested to be antagonistic to the psychoactive properties of THC in many locations within the central nervous system, thus helping to attenuate the psychoactive behaviors of THC.1,2
The mechanism of action of CBD is multifold.3,4,5 Two cannabinoid receptors are known to exist in the human body: CB1 and CB2 receptors. The CB1 receptors are located mainly in the brain and modulate neurotransmitter release in a manner that (1) prevents excessive neuronal activity, thus calming and decreasing anxiety; (2) reduces pain; (3) decreases inflammation; (4) regulates movement and posture control; and (5) controls sensory perception, memory, and cognitive function.4
Anandamide, an endogenous ligand that occurs naturally within our bodies, binds to the CB1 receptors through the G-protein coupling system. CBD has an indirect effect on the CB1 receptors by stopping the enzymatic breakdown of anandamide, allowing it to stay in the system longer and to provide its medical benefits.6 CBD has a mild effect on the CB2 receptors, which are located in the periphery of the lymphoid tissue. The CBD helps to mediate the release of cytokines from the immune cells in a manner that helps to reduce inflammation and pain.4
Other mechanisms of action of CBD include stimulation of vanilloid pain receptors, such as the transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily V member 1 (TRPV-1) receptor, which are known to mediate pain perception, inflammation, and body temperature.7 CBD may also exert its antianxiety effects by activating adenosine receptors that play a significant role in cardiovascular function, causing a broad anti-inflammatory effect throughout the body.7 At high concentrations, CBD directly activates the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor, thereby conferring an antidepressant effect.8 CBD has been found to be an antagonist at a potentially new third cannabinoid receptor (ie, G protein-coupled receptor 55, or GPR55), which resides in the caudate nucleus and putamen and can contribute to osteoporosis when stimulated.9
Since the 1940s, a considerable number of published articles have addressed the chemistry, biochemistry, pharmacology, and clinical effects of CBD.10 The last decade has shown a notable increase in the scientific literature on CBD, owing to its identification as being beneficial in reducing nausea and vomiting, combating psychotic disorders, decreasing inflammation, lessening anxiety, reducing depression, improving sleep, and increasing a sense of well-being.11,12,13,14 Findings presented at the 2015 International Cannabinoid Research Society at their 25th Annual Symposium in Nova Scotia, Canada, reported that use of CBD was beneficial for treatment of liver fibrosis and inflammation, metabolic syndrome, overweight and obesity, anorexia/cachexia syndrome, and osteoarthritic and other musculoskeletal conditions.15
Although studies have demonstrated the calming, anti-inflammatory, and relaxing effects of CBD, clinical data demonstrating the use of CBD to obtain help in marijuana withdrawal is minimal. One prior case study by Crippa et al16 documented the positive effects of using CBD for the treatment of marijuana withdrawal. The current case study offers further evidence that CBD is effective as a safe method of transitioning off marijuana without unwanted side effects.
The patient was a 27-year-old male who presented with a long-standing diagnosis of bipolar disorder and a daily addiction to marijuana. His presenting concerns included erratic behaviors, anxiety, inconsistent sleep patterns, and irritability. He currently lives with his parents, works as a self-employed driver, and teaches chess to children. Informed consent was received from the patient.
The patient’s history included hospitalizations as a teenager for bipolar episodes. He came to the author’s clinic, Wholeness Center in Fort Collins, Colorado, in 2011 and was evaluated by a psychiatrist and naturopathic physician.
The patient’s treatments for his bipolar disorder included pharmacological medications ( Table 1 ). Evaluations included (1) a basic, complete blood count; (2) a nutritional evaluation; (3) a comprehensive metabolic panel; (4) a lipid panel; (5) a measurement of methylene tetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR); (6) a celiac panel; (7) a measurement of thyroid function; (8) a measurement of iron levels; and (9) a quantitative electroencephalogram (qEEG).
Patient’s Timeline, 2011–2015
|06/20/2011||Initial psychological evaluation; diagnosis of bipolar disorder and depression, with difficulty processing information; buzzing in head and some disorientation; 2 manic periods in previous 10 mo, exacerbated by substance abuse; history of hospitalizations; micromanagement of life by mother.||Regular marijuana use|
|11/2011–06/2012||49 neurofeedback sessions.||Marijuana use|
|08/2012–10/2012||9 bodywork sessions.||Marijuana use|
|10/22/2013||No periods of mania/depression; 2 jobs.||Marijuana use|
|02/21/2014||Erratic moods with resumption of THC; stressed family with patient’s deterioration when using THC.||Citalopram: 20 mg||Marijuana use daily|
|03/27/2014||Mood withdrawn and erratic; passiveaggressive behaviors.||Citalopram: 20 mg
Lamotrigine: 150 mg
|Marijuana use: 1–2 joints /night + pot brownies; admitted addiction to THC
DEN: 3 caps TID
Niacin: 2 caps BID
O-3: 1 cap/d
CoQ10: 150 mg/d
Inositol: 2 scoops am & pm
Probiotic: 1 cap/d
Meriva: 1 cap/d
|05/08/2014||Contemplation of quitting THC; realization of connection with mood changes; concern of family about mood changes; limited social contact; works with Legos.||Citalopram: 20 mg
Lamotrigine: 150 mg
|Regular marijuana use
DEN: 3 caps TID
Niacin: 2 caps BID
O-3: 1 cap/d
CoQ10: 150 mg/d
Probiotic: 1 cap/d
|07/10/2014||Less labile; mildly tired; no psychosis; continued marijuana use; less tension at home, with father home more often.||Citalopram: 20 mg
Lamotrigine: 150 mg
Deplin: 15 mg
|Marijuana use 1 ×/wk
DEN: 3 caps TID
Niacin: 2 caps BID
O-3: 1 cap/d
CoQ10: 150 mg/d
|04/24/2015||Continuous destabilization; no evidence of psychosis; difficulty with abuse of marijuana; jobs teaching chess to kids and catering.||Citalopram: 20 mg
Lamotrigine: 150 mg
Deplin: 15 mg
|Marijuana use daily
DEN: 3 caps TID
Niacin: 2 caps BID
O-3: 1 cap/d
CoQ10: 150 mg/d
|05/04/2015||Anxious, erratic moods; sensitive to gluten but no restriction; consumption of a lot of junk food; jobs teaching kids chess, making deliveries.||Citalopram: 20 mg
Lamotrigine: 150 mg
Deplin: 15 mg
|6 sprays PRN during day; 2 sprays QHS|
|06/04/2015||Overall improved quality of sleep; slightly less anxious.||Citalopram: 20 mg
Lamotrigine: 150 mg
Deplin: 15 mg
|3–4 sprays PRN during day; 6 sprays QHS|
|07/02/2015||Overall doing well; better sleep; anxiety under control; new job as Uber driver.||Citalopram: 20 mg
Lamotrigine: 150 mg
Deplin: 15 mg
|2 sprays PRN during day; 4 sprays QHS|
|08/03/2015||Overall good sleep and no anxiety.||Citalopram: 20 mg
Lamotrigine: 150 mg
Deplin: 15 mg
|0 sprays PRN during day; 6 sprays QHS|
Abbreviations: THC, tetrahydrocannabinol; DEN, daily essential nutrients; cap(s), capsule(s); TID, 3 ×/d; BID, 2 ×/d; THC, tetrahydrocannabinol; PRN, when necessary; QHS, every bedtime.
Dietary recommendations were then implemented as was a regimen of nutritional supplements. The patient also received neurofeedback sessions and bodywork. Prior to the period of the case study, he had been stable for a number of years.
In time, the patient’s marijuana habit progressed to addiction. In May 2015, it was recommended that he begin taking CBD as a way of transitioning off the daily marijuana use and stabilizing his erratic moods.
Diagnostic Focus and Assessment
Clinical observations of the patient’s erratic behaviors, mood swings, and disorientation, together with the patient’s self-report of daily marijuana use, reinforced the diagnoses of bipolar disorder and addiction. He was administered the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI)17 and the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAM-A)18 prior to initiation of the CBD oil.
Theraputic Focus, Assessment, and Follow-up
The only addition that the author made to the patient’s treatment regime was the CBD oil. At the same time, the patient’s other supplement therapy was discontinued to simplify treatment, as no clear benefit was demonstrated. The initial regimen was 24 mg of the CBD oil, with 6 sprays PRN during the day and 2 sprays QHS. The dosage was gradually decreased from 24 to 18 mg, with the patient using no sprays during the day and 6 sprays at bedtime. The patient was seen for monthly appointments, including readministration of the PSQI and the HAM-A to evaluate the effectiveness and proper dosing of the CBD oil. CannaVest Company (Las Vegas. NV, USA), which had no involvement in the case study or distribution of the product, provided the CBD oil that was administered to the patient.
Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index
The PSQI is a standardized and validated self-report instrument that measures sleep quality over the prior month. Low scores indicate better sleep. A score under 5 means that you have no sleep concerns. 5 to 10 is fair quality sleep.
Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale
The HAM-A scale is a standardized and validated measure of anxiety in an adult population that has been in active use for decades. A score of 17 or less indicates mild anxiety in terms of severity. A score from 18 to 24 demonstrates mild to moderate anxiety severity. Last, a score of 25 to 30 indicates moderate to severe anxiety.
Using the CBD oil, the patient was able to maintain nonuse of marijuana. With a subsequent, gradual decrease in anxiety, the patient was able to maintain a regular sleeping schedule ( Table 2 ). He was able to get a more secure job as a self-employed driver, and he continued to teach chess to children. He also became more interactive with his family and friends.
Abbreviations: PSQI, Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index; HAM-A, Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale.
The current case study found that CBD oil can be an effective compound to use for transitioning an individual off addictive use of marijuana. The fact that no changes were made in the patient’s medication schedule, diet, or lifestyle gives credence to the idea that the results were the actual effects of the CBD oil.
A possible weakness of the study is the fact that the patient’s total nonuse of marijuana was self-reported, and the reliability of his reporting could be suspect. However, the patient made significant gains in taking responsible actions and presented fewer erratic and disorganized behaviors.
A systematic review of the literature previously had examined 14 studies on the use of CBD oil to modulate various neuronal circuits involved in drug addiction.19 That review suggested that CBD “may have therapeutic properties on opioid, cocaine, and psychostimulant addictions … and may be beneficial in cannabis addiction in humans.” The current case study seems to support that review’s conclusions.
One reported consequence of the cessation of daily marijuana use is a withdrawal syndrome that is characterized by irritability, anxiety, marijuana craving, decreased quality and quantity of sleep, and reduced food intake.16,20 The use of the CBD oil in transitioning the current patient off the marijuana allowed him to avoid experiencing those side effects, as was demonstrated by his behavior and scores on the PSQI and HAM-A screening tools.
The patient reported being less anxious and sleeping better since taking the CBD oil. He reported not using any marijuana since starting the CBD and was proud of his accomplishment of getting a job as a self-employed driver and continuing with teaching chess to children.
Author Disclosure Statement
The author participated in no competing interests that would have affected the results of the case study. No financial support was provided by CannaVest at any time.
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Articles from Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal are provided here courtesy of InnoVision Media
How to Quit Smoking Weed
Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.
Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.
John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE is board-certified in addiction medicine and preventative medicine. He is the medical director at Alcohol Recovery Medicine. For over 20 years Dr. Umhau was a senior clinical investigator at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
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Some people assume that marijuana is relatively harmless, but research has shown that it can have a number of negative effects on health. While it may be less habit-forming than some other substances, there is also a potential for dependence and addiction.
If you want to quit smoking weed, there are several things you can do to improve your chances of success.
This article explores some of the tactics that you can try if you want to quit smoking marijuana. You’ll also find information on symptoms of withdrawal you may experience and types of professional treatment that can help.
Choose an Approach
Once you decide to quit smoking weed, your first decision is to pick which approach is right for you and your needs. While some people may find giving up marijuana easier than others, your own experience may depend on whether you have developed a dependence or addiction to the substance.
Cannabis use disorder is more likely to develop in individuals who began smoking weed at a younger age or use the drug heavily. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) suggests that around 30% of people who use marijuana have a cannabis use disorder.
There are two common approaches to choose from when you are trying to quit smoking weed: tapering your use or quitting cold turkey.
Tapering Your Use
Tapering is a process that involves gradually reducing drug use by lowering the dose used over a period of time. The goal is to slowly allow a person’s body to become used to lower levels of the substance while minimizing drug withdrawal symptoms.
The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) generally favors a gradual tapering approach to help minimize severe withdrawal symptoms.
If you decide to try the gradual approach, there are some things you can do to help improve your chances of success.
- Give yourself a deadline. Pick a date that you would like to quit smoking marijuana for good. Then figure out how much you’ll have to cut back to quit by that date.
- Pick a tapering strategy. You might opt to cut back a certain amount each day or each week. You might also opt to switch to a lower-potency cannabis product.
Quitting Cold Turkey
This approach involves simply stopping the use of the drug. While quitting cold turkey isn’t easy and often leads to more intense withdrawal symptoms, there are some reasons people might choose this method.
For instance, it can be an effective way to stop your habit and get a fresh start. People who doubt their ability to reduce their marijuana use gradually may find this method more effective.
To quit smoking weed, you need to choose an approach that works for you. You can either gradually wean yourself off the drug or stop smoking cold turkey.
Prepare for Withdrawal
Once you decide to quit smoking weed, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the withdrawal symptoms you might experience as you give up the drug. By doing this, you’ll be better prepared mentally and can plan how you will deal with these symptoms.
- Appetite changes
- Flu-like symptoms such as fever, sweating, and chills
- Sleep difficulties
- Weight loss or gain
For most people discontinuing their marijuana use, withdrawal symptoms will usually last for around one to two weeks. However, some people may continue to experience these symptoms for several weeks or even months, a phenomenon known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS).
Symptoms of withdrawal can be unpleasant and can derail your efforts to quit smoking weed. When the physical and psychological symptoms get bad enough, you might return to using the drug to find relief.
During this time, it can be helpful to have a plan that will help you stick to your recovery efforts. Look for ways to relieve your symptoms without turning to marijuana and consider reaching out to your healthcare provider for solutions that can help.
Reminding yourself that these feelings are temporary and that you will get better in a few days can help.
Understand Your Triggers
When you are trying to quit smoking weed, it is essential to get rid of any marijuana-related paraphernalia in your home. Getting rid of the drug itself is crucial, but you should also eliminate any pipes, bowls, bongs, vapes, and related products.
Having them readily available makes it easier and more tempting to give in to a drug craving.
It would help if you also spent some time thinking about the triggers that make you want to smoke weed. Are there certain times of day you’re more likely to smoke? Do you feel an urge to smoke more in specific settings, situations, or around certain people?
Once you are more aware of the things that trigger your drug use, you can plan to deal with those triggers. Sometimes this might involve avoiding or eliminating things that create pressure on you to smoke marijuana. In other cases, you’ll need to explore healthy coping mechanisms to help you manage your urges.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you do make a mistake and smoke again. Relapse is common for anyone who is trying to quit. Research has found that it usually takes people a few tries before they are successful.
A slip-up doesn’t mean that you’ve failed; it’s just a temporary setback.
Learn Your Triggers
Whether you are tapering your use or quitting cold turkey, it is vital to be aware of the people, objects, or situations that can trigger drug cravings and use. Identifying these triggers and finding ways to avoid or cope with them can help you be more successful.
Tips for Quitting Marijuana
No matter what strategy you decide to use to quit smoking weed, several techniques can help you stick to your goals. Some things you can try are listed below.
Finding ways to stay busy can help distract you from some of the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. It can also keep your mind off of the drug cravings that you might be experiencing.
Look for things that you can do that will help take your mind off of smoking weed. If you usually smoke during specific periods, such as on the weekends, find activities that will help keep you occupied and distracted.
Creating a new routine can also be helpful when you are quitting a substance such as marijuana. Keeping a routine during stressful times can be important for your mental well-being, but sticking to old habits (those that featured regular drug use) can make recovery much more difficult.
When you are quitting marijuana, you may find that getting regular exercise can be helpful for various reasons.
First, it can act as a valuable distraction when cravings hit. It can also help you feel better and more energized as you cope with symptoms of withdrawal.
Some research also suggests that exercise may help complement other treatments for cannabis use disorder. Researchers indicate that since marijuana use can affect the systems that regulate stress and rewards, exercise might help reduce withdrawal symptoms, aid in stress management, and reduce drug cravings.
One small study published in the journal PLoS ONE found that moderate exercise curbed marijuana use and cravings.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults engage in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week, which amounts to about 30 minutes of brisk walking five days each week.
Care for Yourself
It can be challenging to deal with symptoms of marijuana withdrawal, so caring for yourself is particularly important during this time. Make sure you get plenty of rest and eat a healthy diet that includes omega-3 fat.
Vitamin D can also be important. Many people don’t get enough vitamin D in their diet to prevent vitamin D deficiency. Ask your doctor if you might benefit from vitamin D supplementation.
When you find yourself struggling with stress or anxiety, try implementing some effective stress management techniques such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation.
Also, focus on finding a sense of balance in your life. Practicing mindfulness, in which you learn to focus on the present moment and build a stronger sense of self-awareness, can help you become more in tune with your needs.
Your social support system can also play an important part in achieving your goals.
You might notice that some people in your life may be less supportive—particularly if much of your social life centers around marijuana use. In these cases, you may need to consider reevaluating some of your relationships and places where you spend your time.
Create boundaries with people who make it more challenging to quit. Talk to supportive friends about your goals. They can offer the encouragement and support that you need to be successful.
How to Get Help for Marijuana Addiction
If you want to quit smoking weed, it’s also important to remember that you don’t have to do it all on your own. Getting help from an addiction specialist can increase your chances of successfully quitting marijuana.
Start by talking to your doctor or mental health professional about your treatment options.
There are currently no FDA-approved medications for the treatment of marijuana use disorders, but research in this area is ongoing. Clinical trials have shown that buspirone, an anti-anxiety medication, can reduce cravings and drug use and decrease symptoms of irritability.
Your healthcare provider may prescribe medications to treat co-occurring mental health disorders.
Therapy is generally the recommended treatment for marijuana use disorder. Specific strategies that may be used include:
, which addresses the underlying negative thought patterns that contribute to addictive behavior. Your therapist can also help you find coping mechanisms that will help you deal with the thoughts or emotions that often contribute to drug use.
- Contingency management, which involves the use of rewards to reinforce and encourage drug abstinence. For example, you may be able to earn desired rewards by passing a drug test. , which is an approach that helps people develop a strong motivation to make positive behavior changes in their lives. This type of therapy can be helpful for people who struggle to find the motivation to quit smoking weed.
Self-help strategies are important, but sometimes you might need a helping hand. Reach out to your doctor or find a mental health professional who specializes in treating addictions.
A Word From Verywell
While marijuana may be less habit-forming than other substances, some people do struggle with unpleasant side effects or dependence. If you are wondering how to quit smoking weed, it is important to remember that there are tools and resources available that can help.
It is possible to be successful on your own, but talking to your doctor or therapist can also be a great place to start. Choosing a way to quit, setting goals, and taking care of yourself as you work giving up weed can all help you feel better and improve your ability to stick to your goals.
How Can CBD Oil Help You to Quit Smoking Cigarettes?
Although tobacco addiction isn’t contagious, it causes millions of deaths worldwide. It’s also one of the most addictive substances on Earth. Each year, more than 7 million people die from tobacco-related diseases.
In the United States, over 40 million adults struggle with nicotine addiction. Worse yet, conventional treatments seem to fail to help those people quit smoking cigarettes.
Fortunately, many promising “novel” therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, can be enhanced with natural remedies that can mitigate withdrawal symptoms. Recently, CBD (cannabidiol) has been making big headlines in research journals for its ability to help with tobacco addiction.
Does using CBD oil to quit smoking cigarettes make sense?
Continue reading to find out.
Can You Use CBD Oil to Quit Smoking Cigarettes?
Understanding how nicotine addiction works is paramount if you want to find an effective solution. Aside from the obvious physical addiction, smoking cigarettes is habit-forming and thus can trigger behavioral addiction.
With a physical addiction, all you need to do is endure the time your body needs to flush nicotine out of your system and bring your body back to normal functioning.
Behavioral addictions are more complex because the brain of an addicted person is wired to certain processes that often lead to the pleasurable sensation associated with inhaling cigarette smoke.
That’s why nicotine replacement therapies such as nicotine gums or patches demonstrate low cessation success rates.
Imagine engaging in a particular activity 20 to 40 times a day for 10 to 20 years; won’t it be hard to quit that habit regardless of the activity?
The surge of dopamine combined with an effortless way to experience it — as is the case with smoking cigarettes — further reinforces the habit, making it more difficult to go cold turkey.
Below we explain how CBD may help you curb cigarette cravings, dampen withdrawal symptoms, and rewire your brain so that it no longer associates smoking cigarettes with a priority.
How CBD Oil May Help You Quit Smoking Cigarettes
CBD has a versatile therapeutic profile. People use it to relieve a wide range of conditions and symptoms, including pain , muscle spasms , tremors , seizures , sleeplessness , autoimmune conditions , neurodegeneration and dementia , and more.
Recently, CBD has garnered the attention of psychiatrists and addiction experts for its potential in dealing with tobacco addiction.
Here we explain how using CBD oil can help you quit smoking cigarettes.
1. CBD Alleviates Withdrawal Symptoms After Quitting Cigarettes
Nicotine is strongly addictive, similar to hard drugs like cocaine, hence quitting smoking cigarettes. At some points, most users face a barrier of withdrawal symptoms that is almost impossible to overcome.
Physical addiction to tobacco reaches far beyond the urge for another cigarette. Withdrawal symptoms develop within a few days and involve irritability, anxiety, difficulty falling asleep, high blood pressure, headaches, and depression.
They may linger for up to several weeks. If the period of withdrawal were easy to overcome, smoking addiction wouldn’t become a global health problem.
CBD interacts with the human endocannabinoid system (ECS), which maintains homeostasis throughout the body. The ECS controls essential bodily functions, including sleep cycles, stress response, blood pressure, body temperature, mood, memory, pain perception, and more.
CBD is a potent inhibitor of FAAH — an enzyme that breaks down the body’s natural endocannabinoids. These endocannabinoids bind to cannabinoid receptors in the brain (CB1) that can influence mood, pain, sleep, and reward regions in your brain . Supplementing CBD oil helps you maintain a sufficient level of your own cannabinoids and thus reduces the dysfunction of the aforementioned processes.
2. CBD Curbs Tobacco Cravings
A 2018 study that came out of the UK in May 2018 investigated the potential benefits of CBD on smoking-related behavior. This double-blind, randomized study included a sample of 30 addicted smokers. Each of the participants was taking 800 mg of CBD orally or an equivalent dose of a placebo .
Then the subjects were shown “pictorial tobacco cues” such as drinking, parties, other people smoking, etc., and were analyzed for heart rate, cravings, blood pressure, and withdrawal symptoms.
The authors concluded that a single 800 mg dose of CBD could help to reduce the “pleasantness” of images associated with smoking cigarettes compared to the placebo group, especially for the participants who only went through one day of cessation for the study.
3. CBD Eases Anxiety After Quitting Cigarettes
On top of regulating the ECS, CBD uses over 60 molecular targets to interact with the body, which explains its therapeutic versatility.
One of these targets involves the modulation of the GABA receptor to balance the levels of two neurotransmitters: glutamate (excitatory) and gamma-aminobutyric acid (inhibitory). High levels of glutamate and low levels of GABA are associated with the hyperactivity of the brain and increased feelings of anxiety. By modulating the GABA receptor, CBD helps to maintain equilibrium in your nervous system, preventing bouts of anxiety, improving stress response, and enhancing focus.
CBD also acts on the serotonin receptor. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter responsible for mood and emotions, whose low levels are linked to anxiety and depression. In contrast, excess serotonin levels in the brain can induce muscle spasms, overactive reflexes, shivering, clumsiness, and tremor.
Although CBD doesn’t directly boost your serotonin levels, it blocks its reuptake by interacting with the 5-1HTA serotonin receptor so that your brain can use it more effectively. This, in turn, translates into the proper functioning of brain cells and thus helps to relieve tremors, muscle spasms, and even lowers the incidence of anxiety and depression.
4. CBD Reduces Cigarette Consumption
One study examined smokers who wanted to quit smoking cigarettes. Each smoker was taking an inhaler with either CBD or a placebo vaping cartridge. The participants were asked to use the inhalers every time they felt the urge to smoke. At the end of this week-long study, the CBD group showed a 40% reduction in cigarette consumption while the placebo group didn’t report a significant difference in the number of cigarettes smoked .
The study authors concluded that this effect could be attributed to CBD’s indirect interactions with CB1 receptors. Not only does CBD increase the natural level of anandamide — one of the two major endocannabinoids known as “the bliss molecule,” but it can also mitigate the boosting properties of nicotine.
In a research paper posted in the journal Addiction , Hindocha et al. went on a series of experiments in which vaping cannabis was associated with reduced tobacco consumption. The research team hypothesized that :
“ There could be a reason to be optimistic about the potential of vaporizers. If vaporizers can reduce cannabis and tobacco co-administration, the outcome could be reducing tobacco use/dependence among cannabis users and a resultant reduction in harms associated with cannabis/tobacco. Indeed, if vaping cannabis becomes commonplace in the future, the next generation of cannabis users might never be exposed to nicotine or tobacco in the first place.”
Benefits of Smoking CBD Instead of Cigarettes
For some people, the problem of quitting cigarettes is more about habitual use rather than the actual physical addiction.
You pull out a cigarette, light it up, and take a steady draw — day after day, month after month, year after year.
Imagine stopping this in the blink of an eye — leaving away a part of your identity takes strong will and determination.
By smoking CBD instead of regular cigarettes, you can maintain your habit of smoking a cigarette without physically addictive content. Of course, smoking a CBD joint still delivers tar and other harmful substances to your system, but it can help you get off the nicotine and then gradually transition to vaping CBD — either as flowers or in the form of vape liquid.
How to Use CBD to Stop Smoking
As you can see, CBD can do a lot to help you quit smoking cigarettes. But how do you take CBD to get the best results for your nicotine addiction? Here are a few tips that can make it easier:
Buy High-Quality Products
The source of your CBD oil can make or break your experience with using CBD to quit smoking cigarettes. There’s a universal rule for buying CBD oil in an unregulated market like the one we have in the USA — purchase only from reputable brands.
For this, make sure the brand you’re looking at ticks off the following points:
- The hemp source: prioritize brands with in-house organic hemp fields in the US and Western Europe. Avoid products sourced from mass-produced hemp imported from overseas, as this kind of hemp is often contaminated with pesticides, heavy metals, and synthetic fertilizers.
- The THC content: the concentration of THC in your CBD oil must be less than 0.3% to be considered legal on a federal level. Any product with a higher THC content is treated by federal law as marijuana and thus prohibited unless your state has legalized marijuana for recreational use.
- Lab reports: it’s always better to choose a company that provides certificates of analysis (COAs) for their products. These certificates give you insight into the product’s phytochemical profile, including the THC content and purity levels.
Start with a Low Dose
If you’re looking for a straight answer, we don’t have good news for you. Since CBD hasn’t been yet clinically tested for tobacco addiction, there are no established dosage guidelines on this subject; you can get a quick point of reference by looking at the studies that have examined the efficacy of different doses of CBD for quitting cigarettes.
Another reason why dosing CBD in humans isn’t that obvious is the number of individual factors at play. The list includes an individual’s weight, metabolism, unique body chemistry, the severity of addiction and withdrawal symptoms, and the potency of your CBD product.
Consulting a medical practitioner experienced in using CBD for addiction should help you establish the optimal starting dosage. We recommend starting with a low dose, like 10-15 mg per day to see how your body responds to cannabidiol. If this works for you, you can begin taking more to assess what amount reduces the salience of tobacco stimuli.
To learn more about the general dosage guideline, read our post here.
Opt for Full-spectrum CBD Oil
Full-spectrum CBD oil contains all beneficial compounds that naturally occur in hemp plants, including CBD, adjunctive cannabinoids, terpenes, and trace amounts of THC. These ingredients work together to amplify each other’s health benefits while mitigating potentially unwanted reactions (e.g., in a way, CBD counteracts the psychotropic effects of THC).
This phenomenon is known as the entourage effect — the reason why full-spectrum CBD products are the most desired type of CBD. Several studies have found that full-spectrum CBD oils overcome the bell-shaped dose-response when people take pure cannabidiol — meaning that dosing is more predictable with such products.
If you’re concerned about the trace amounts of THC, you can choose a broad-spectrum extract , which only contains CBD, terpenes, and adjunctive cannabinoids — but without the intoxicating compound.
Is CBD Addictive?
While smoking marijuana can be habit-forming and thus carries a risk of developing behavioral addiction, CBD isn’t addictive in any way . Cannabidiol belongs to non-intoxicating ingredients, meaning it doesn’t change the way your brain functions. The WHO has acknowledged that the abuse potential of CBD is similar to placebo. In addition, case studies are indicating that CBD can help reduce cravings associated with a behavioral addiction.
Nicotine Addiction And Its Toll on Society
Tobacco use is the number one preventable cause of death and one of the hardest addictions for consumers to quit. As reported by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 14% of people over the age of 18 smoke cigarettes. This makes for a whopping 34.3 million people who use tobacco regularly. Over 8 million uses smokeless forms, such as nicotine E-liquids.
Smoking can lead to heart disease, compromised lung function, cancer, and an array of comorbid conditions. Once again, smoking is THE MOST PREVENTABLE cause of death in the United States. People know all the risks; it’s all conveyed in social campaigns and written on the labels of cigarettes (oh, irony). That being said, quitting smoking cigarettes is a challenging thing to accomplish.
Especially when you consider its withdrawal symptoms.
Common Withdrawal Symptoms After Quitting Cigarettes
The withdrawal symptoms of quitting cigarettes vary depending on the severity of your addiction and your body’s dependence on nicotine. Some of the more common withdrawals include:
- Thinking problems
- Depressive mood
- Nausea and abdominal cramping
- Slowed heart rate
The physical withdrawal symptoms can be accompanied by psychological, such as:
- A strong desire to light up
- Feelings of frustration
- Difficulty concentrating
- Low mood
- Poor response to stress
- Mood swings
Managing these withdrawal symptoms is one of the most important elements of quitting smoking cigarettes — and CBD seems to fit here like a glove.
Unfortunately, using CBD oil to quit smoking cigarettes isn’t the first-choice treatment among doctors.
How Is Nicotine Addiction Usually Treated?
Pharmaceutical corporations have responded with nicotine gums and patches as a means of fighting tobacco addiction. However, these cessation devices are actually more of a tool for damage control rather than an effective solution to the problem.
The above protocols cut off the smoking part because they aim to deliver nicotine in concentrations high enough to stop cigarette cravings. However, what these protocols ignore is the behavioral aspect of addiction. Some people just want to partake in their rituals and don’t care about nicotine, which explains why substituting nicotine vapes with tobacco vapes successfully reduced nicotine use among those addicted to smoking.
While nicotine isn’t the primary cause of tobacco-related diseases, it is incredibly addictive and may cause severe withdrawal symptoms upon abrupt cessation.
If you’re looking for an effective way to quit smoking cigarettes, consult a behavioral therapist and ask them about using cognitive behavioral therapy in conjunction with CBD oil as a way to manage withdrawal symptoms and rewire your brain so that it becomes resistant to tobacco cues.
Summarizing the Benefits of Using CBD Oil Once You Quit Smoking Cigarettes
Cigarette quitters can use CBD oil as a viable solution for kicking the habit. First, cannabidiol can control tobacco withdrawal symptoms like headaches, anxiety, insomnia, and difficulty concentrating. Second, it helps you ignore cigarette cravings by making you less susceptible to cigarette cues. Last but not least, you can smoke CBD joints or vape CBD liquid as a temporary alternative to cigarettes on your way to overcoming addiction.
Just make sure your CBD oil comes from a trustworthy source that uses organic hemp, makes full-spectrum products, and tests them in an independent laboratory for their CBD content and the presence of potential contaminants.
Stay strong on your way to smoking cessation!
- Leweke, F. M., Piomelli, D., Pahlisch, F., Muhl, D., Gerth, C. W., Hoyer, C., Klosterkötter, J., Hellmich, M., & Koethe, D. (2012). Cannabidiol enhances anandamide signaling and alleviates psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia. Translational psychiatry , 2 (3), e94.
- Hindocha, C., Freeman, T. P., Grabski, M., Stroud, J. B., Crudgington, H., Davies, A. C., Das, R. K., Lawn, W., Morgan, C., & Curran, H. V. (2018). Cannabidiol reverses attentional bias to cigarette cues in a human experimental model of tobacco withdrawal. Addiction (Abingdon, England) , 113 (9), 1696–1705. Advance online publication. 
- Blessing, E. M., Steenkamp, M. M., Manzanares, J., & Marmar, C. R. (2015). Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. Neurotherapeutics: the journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics , 12 (4), 825–836. 
- Morgan, C. J., Das, R. K., Joye, A., Curran, H. V., & Kamboj, S. K. (2013). Cannabidiol reduces cigarette consumption in tobacco smokers: preliminary findings. Addictive behaviors , 38 (9), 2433–2436. 
- Schlag, A. K., Hindocha, C., Zafar, R., Nutt, D. J., & Curran, H. V. (2021). Cannabis-based medicines and cannabis dependence: A critical review of issues and evidence. Journal of psychopharmacology (Oxford, England) , 35 (7), 773–785. 
Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.
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