“Alcohol is one of the most dangerous drugs out there!”
Do you think I’m joking? Well, I am expecting nothing less. However, the statement is actually true.
But if you still don’t believe me, consider this- As per the CDC, approximately 88 thousand people die every year in the US alone, due to alcohol. And hey, Shakira’s hips may lie sometimes, but these numbers… I don’t think so.
Now, if it was just this, we would not have called it the “most dangerous substance”. However, the story doesn’t just end here.
Another major concern with alcoholism is that, even if a person tries to stop, the withdrawal symptoms make it extremely hard to overcome. And this is not, in any way, a symbol of a safe substance, right?
But do you know cannabis may help you with alcoholism? I’m serious!
As per experts, cannabis has the ability to treat many different health conditions, including pain, stress, anxiety, etc. And the latest research suggests it may help with alcohol withdrawal symptoms too.
But how true is this? Is it worth it to get a medical 420 card to manage your alcoholism? Let’s try to understand it deeply.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms and its Conventional Treatment
There are a number of symptoms that we can associate with alcohol withdrawal. And they actually differ from person to person. The most common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include anxiety, nausea, insomnia, irritability, nervousness, etc. And at an advanced level, the person may experience seizures, tremors, increased heart rate, and in some cases even hallucinations. Over the very long term, an abuser may also develop some chronic diseases. This may include alcoholic hepatitis, liver diseases, cirrhosis, or some type of cancer or kidney disease, etc.
In terms of treatments, one of the very common ways of dealing with these symptoms is admitting the person in a detox center. Here, the victim is given all the support, both medical as well as emotional, that he needs to live a happy, alcohol-free life again. And to help the person deal with the symptoms of pain, anxiety, nausea, etc., doctors usually prescribe medicinal drugs.
However, due to various reasons, including financial, professional, or personal, a lot of people feel that these facilities are often very impractical. And this is why so many of them are turning to cannabis. Cannabis is far more convenient and cheaper than detox centers and prescription medications. Plus, it also gives people a chance to self medicate with specific products as per their unique condition.
Alcohol and the Brain
Before we understand how cannabis may help people to manage their withdrawal symptoms, let’s first see how alcohol actually works with our brain to form neurological reliance.
To put it simply, alcohol has its effects on the reward structures of the brain. Let’s understand how.
In a healthy individual (a non-abuser), these reward structures have a very important role to play in making the person implement a normal behavior of self-care when needed. In simple terms, if we are not happy, these reward structures let us know. However, in the case of an alcoholic person, the alcohol bypasses this need of self-care behavior. This is the reason why it is so difficult to fight alcoholism. It makes you ignore the reward structure in your brain, which is telling you to change your behavior. And instead, you drink even more.
Alcohol and the Endocannabinoid System
The most important thing you need to understand is that the reward structures of the brain contain a significant amount of CB-1 receptors. And these receptors have a very crucial role to play in generating feelings of satisfaction, reward, and happiness.
However, the relationship between alcohol and CB-1 receptors isn’t very good actually.
In a study in 2014, it was found that the prevalence of these CB-1 receptors in alcoholics, even after a long time they’ve stopped, is very low. This means that alcohol has a direct negative effect on the brain mechanism that is responsible for the reward behavior. It supersedes the role of the brain’s natural endocannabinoids and establishes itself to communicate with the reward structures of the brain.
Cannabis for Alcoholism
The most difficult part of leaving alcohol is that, after the prolonged use, there aren’t enough endocannabinoids left in the brain to help you manage the withdrawal symptoms of alcohol, including anxiety and stress. However, that is where cannabis comes into the picture.
As per the experts, CBD, a prominent cannabinoid of the cannabis plant, has the ability to naturally replenish the supply of endocannabinoids that were diminished after the prolonged use of alcohol. Furthermore, cannabis also has the ability to help people manage the symptoms of nausea, tremors, anxiety, etc. And these, as we saw above, are very common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.
Research on Cannabis for Alcohol
You should note that cannabis has been an illegal drug for so many years. And therefore, the research on it isn’t very extensive. However, we do have some studies that suggest cannabis may be useful in helping people with alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
For instance, in an animal study conducted in 2018, researchers gave transdermal CBD to the rats that had an addiction to cocaine and alcohol. They were given the CBD at an interval of 24 hours for around seven days.
The results of this study were actually phenomenal. The researchers saw a very significant reduction in drug temptations due to stress or anxiety in these rats. Furthermore, even when the CBD was detectable for only three days in their body, the behavior of these rats was in control even after five months of the experiment.
In another study in 2015, it was found that the CBD has the ability to communicate with the brain’s reward system when the body’s natural endocannabinoids aren’t enough.
A paper published in 2014 also suggests that cannabis can work as a protective shield against alcohol caused damage.
All these studies prove that cannabis has the ability to help you manage the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal efficiently.
The Bottom Line
Until now, the studies have shown that cannabis has the potential to help you with alcohol withdrawal symptoms. However, you should note that cannabis has just recently got legal status and that too in some states only. And due to this, the research we have is still at a very initial level.
In the end, if you are thinking of getting a medical 420 card to deal with alcohol withdrawal symptoms, you can definitely do that. However, due to the limited research and the fact that it has different effects on different people, we recommend you talk to a doctor first