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Using CBD to treat alcoholism in 2022

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a condition in which a person has a need to drink alcohol even if doing so negatively affects their life. Research suggests that cannabidiol (CBD) could help decrease alcohol consumption and reduce alcohol-related liver damage.

In 2019, 5.3% of people aged 12 years or older in the United States had AUD, previously known as alcoholism. About 1.7% of children and adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 years had this condition.

AUD can cause alcohol-related liver disease, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. It can also lead to emotional, interpersonal, and financial difficulties. Despite this, only about 7.2% of people with AUD receive treatment in any given year.

Although the research is in its early stages, using CBD for AUD intervention looks promising.

This article explains what CBD is and looks at how it may help reduce alcohol consumption and AUD-related conditions.

Visit our CBD hub to learn more about this substance.

Is CBD legal?The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. This made some hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3 percent THC federally legal. However, CBD products containing more than 0.3 percent THC still fall under the legal definition of marijuana, making them federally illegal but legal under some state laws. Be sure to check state laws, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the FDA has not approved nonprescription CBD products, and some products may be inaccurately labeled.

CBD is one of the many active compounds present in cannabis. It is different than tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the compound that causes euphoria or a “high.” People who use CBD are unlikely to experience a high.

Learn about the differences between CBD and THC here.

Research has shown that CBD may have the following benefits:

Research on whether CBD can decrease alcohol consumption in humans is limited.

However, to 2019 study on mice found that CBD may decrease alcohol consumption. The researchers noted that CBD administration made the mice less motivated to drink ethanol, a component of alcohol.

A small-scale study involving 120 adults who used both cannabis and alcohol found that people may be less likely to consume as much alcohol if they use CBD.

The research into using CBD as a treatment for AUD is in its early stages. Some early studies suggest that CBD can reduce alcohol consumption and may protect against liver and brain damage due to excessive alcohol use.

However, researchers are still considering several factors that may help establish effective procedures for using CBD for AUD treatment. The questions that they are looking to answer include:

  • What dosage of CBD is most effective?
  • How long should the treatment last?
  • What is the best way to administer CBD?
  • What formulation of CBD is most effective?

Learn more about CBD dosages.

animal studies suggest that CBD can reduce stress-related alcohol consumption, withdrawal convulsions, and impulsive alcohol use. These findings indicate that CBD may reduce alcohol cravings.

Learn more about alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Other animal studies have shown that CBD can lower the motivation to drink or seek out alcohol.

Research has also found that combining CBD and naltrexone, a medication that treats substance misuse, can reduce the urge to drink alcohol.

However, researchers need to conduct more studies involving people to check whether these findings are applicable to humans.

Initial research involving animals shows that CBD could help alcohol-related liver damage by reducing inflammation and slowing the development of fatty liver.

Another study found that treating mice with CBD helped by:

  • improving liver damage due to excessive drinking
  • inhibiting inflammatory responses
  • limiting the buildup of fat in the liver

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), mixing alcohol and CBD has potential risks because mixing these two substances can significantly increase the effects of both drugs. Combining the two may lead to a person:

  • feeling very drowsy or sleepy
  • having difficulty coordinating their body and their senses
  • losing track of time

People should never drink alcohol, use CBD, or both before performing activities that require focus and attention and have the potential to cause harm, such as driving or operating heavy machinery.

Research indicates that CBD is generally safe.

However, the FDA states that CBD can cause liver damage and reduce fertility in males.

Additionally, this substance can have short-term side effects, such as drowsiness or lightheadedness. It may sometimes cause gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea.

CBD also has the potential to interact with a range of prescription and nonprescription medications.

Before using CBD, a person should consult a doctor. This professional can review their general physical condition and make sure that they are not using any prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, or supplements that might interact with CBD.

Healthcare professionals often use a standard list of questions to diagnose AUD. They may ask whether a person has been:

  • drinking more, or for longer, than intended
  • trying unsuccessfully to stop or reduce their drinking
  • spending much of their time either drinking or recovering from alcohol use
  • experiencing a powerful need for a drink
  • finding that drinking interferes with important parts of their life, such as family, work, or school
  • continuing to drink even though it causes issues with family or friends
  • cutting back on activities they previously enjoyed to drink instead
  • getting into dangerous situations after drinking
  • continuing to drink even though it interferes with their physical or mental health
  • having withdrawal symptoms when alcohol wears off, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, and sweating

Learn how to help someone with AUD.

Anyone who is concerned about the amount of alcohol they consume or the effect the alcohol is having on their life should discuss alcohol use with a healthcare professional.

Healthcare professionals can work with a person to outline a treatment strategy that can help reduce the amount of alcohol they consume and reduce the risk of long lasting adverse effects.

Alcohol use disorder affects many people aged 12 years and older in the US

Although there is only limited research involving humans, animal studies and early investigations suggest that CBD is a promising treatment for AUD. CBD may help lower alcohol cravings and reduce alcohol consumption.

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