Abstinence Syndrome and Medicinal Cannabis

Abstinence Syndrome and Medicinal Cannabis | Kalapa Clinic


  • Effects addiction to Benzodiazepines
  • Effect on Opioids
  • Effect on Alcohol Addiction
  • Decreased anxiety
  • Decreased stress

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What is Abstinence Syndrome?

When a person stops using an addictive substance that his or her body has grown accustomed to, one undergoes a series of physical and psychological reactions. The body is altered due to a lack of consumption and enters a phase of addiction to the substance, causing severe discomfort to the person.

The abstinence syndrome, can occur not only from drugs, but from substances such as snuff, alcohol, coffee , etc., as well.

Effects of CBD in the face of an Abstinence Syndrome

For people who have withdrawal symptoms, cannabinoids can help reduce anxiety and stress generated after an inadequate intake of addictive product. It helps in the case of addiction to benzodiazepines, opiates and alcohol.

Medicinal Cannabis Treatment for Abstinence Syndrome

Several documented cases have shown that the use of cannabinoids may be an effective way to combat withdrawal symptoms occuring in people addicted to benzodiazepines, opiates and alcohol. Specifically, cannabinoids are used for reducing physical symptoms to better manage the stress and suffering that comes with getting over an addiction.

Some cannabinoid receptors (CB1, CB2, TRPV, etc.) and biochemical mechanisms that generate cannabinoids are present in areas of the brain that control emotional behavior, mood, sleep, stress, irritability, etc. Several trials using mice and other animals have clearly demonstrated that the activation of cannabinoid receptors in the brain that help to reduce the associated anxiety and panic coming along with withdrawal by controlling the heart rate and decreasing blood pressure.

A 2012 study found that cannabidiol inhibited the rewarding effect of morphine in rats [4], and a 2017 study found the same in mice. This means that the part of the brain that is activated when receiving the addictive substance is also activated when taking CBD, this means that cannabidiol could be used in an alternative therapy for those who want to treat their drug addiction.

Another potential use of CBD in the treatment of drug addiction is as a palliative for withdrawal symptoms. CBD has pain-relieving properties and may help people who experience headaches and pain as a result of withdrawal [5]. In addition, CBD has anxiolytic properties [6] that may help treat anxiety that may be related to drug addiction.

For opioid-related addictions, many studies have already been conducted on the benefits of using CBD as a palliative for long-term chronic pain problems, as there are few negative side effects and a low risk of addiction. It has also been found that CBD has a very limited potential for abuse because it has no psychoactive properties. There is still much to be studied about medical cannabis and drug addiction [7] However, what is known so far is very promising.

Bibliography on Abstinence Syndrome and the use of Medicinal Cannabis

[3]Prud’homme, M., Cata, R. and Jutras-Aswad, D. (2015). Cannabidiol as an Intervention for Addictive Behaviors: A Systematic Review of the Evidence. Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment.

[4]Katsidoni, V., Anagnostou, I. and Panagis, G. (2012). Cannabidiol inhibits the reward-facilitating effect of morphine: involvement of 5-HT1Areceptors in the dorsal raphe nucleusAddiction Biology, [online] 18(2), pp.286-296.

[5]Russo, E. (2008). Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat painTherapeutics and Clinical Risk Management, [online] Volume 4, pp.245-259.

[6] Crippa, J., Derenusson, G., Ferrari, T., Wichert-Ana, L., Duran, F., Martin-Santos, R., Simões, M., Bhattacharyya, S., Fusar-Poli, P., Atakan, Z., Filho, A., Freitas-Ferrari, M., McGuire, P., Zuardi, A., Busatto, G. and Hallak, J. (2010). Neural basis of anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in generalized social anxiety disorder: a preliminary reportJournal of Psychopharmacology, [online] 25.

[7]Hurd, Y., Yoon, M., Manini, A., Hernandez, S., Olmedo, R., Ostman, M. and Jutras-Aswad, D. (2015). Early Phase in the Development of Cannabidiol as a Treatment for Addiction: Opioid Relapse Takes Initial Center StageNeurotherapeutics, [online] 12(4)

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