Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) and Medical Cannabis

Sarah Walker

by Sarah Walker

October 22, 2019 05:01 pm ET Estimated Read Time: 3 Minutes
Medically reviewed by Dr. Abraham Benavides Fact checked by Kymberly Drapcho
More studies conclude that CBD can assist in alcohol use disorder, commonly referred to as alcoholism. It reportedly alleviates alcohol cravings, but it is also an anti-inflammatory, which can help with brain swelling caused by alcoholism. There is also research that suggests CBD might protect against cell damage created from alcohol consumption.

What is Alcoholism?

Defined, alcoholism is the psychological and physical dependency on alcohol. The notable addiction disorder can become fatal, with up to six people overdosing from alcohol poisoning a day, according to the Center for Disease Control. Furthermore, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism report in 2018 up to 14.4 million Americans ages 18 and older suffer from the addiction disorder while 401,000 adolescents also had AUD.

Symptoms of someone who suffers from AUD vary. Notable signs include drinking more than intended despite the negative impact and becoming immune to the amount of alcohol needed to become elevated. Since alcohol slows down the central nervous system, it affects all parts of the body, including the brain, liver, pancreas, heart, and immune system. There are also several physical signs of AUD: excessive sweating, vomiting, rapid weight loss or gain, and unexplained bruising.  

Treating Alcoholism with Medical Cannabis

A 2019 study published in Frontiers in Pharmacology that CBD could prove to help alcohol-related brain and liver damage and disease. According to the study, “by reducing alcohol-related steatosis processes in the liver, and alcohol-related brain damage, CBD could improve both hepatic and neurocognitive outcomes in subjects with AUD, regardless of the individual’s drinking trajectory.”

Another 2019 study titled “Cannabidiol as a Novel Candidate Alcohol Use Disorder Pharmacotherapy,” reports that CBD could successfully heal alcohol-related disorders, and addiction phenotypes offer hope to the future research and discovery in AUD pharmacotherapy. In 2018, the journal Neuropsychopharmacology reported that study with rats that have a history of alcohol or cocaine self-administration. The rats received transdermal CBD at 24-hour intervals for a week. 

The study results support the potential of CBD to prevent alcohol relapse in at least two ways, including resilient effects with short-term treatment. “To further substantiate this putative large-spectrum treatment potential, it will be essential to extend the characterization of CBD’s ‘therapeutic’ profile in the future,” according to the study summary. 

Meanwhile, the success of CBD treatment for AUD has gained such popularity that specific oils are noted to assist in alleviating the addiction disorder. Additionally, CBD-infused beverages are helping heavy drinkers put down alcohol to pick up the much healthier drink. 

Until further studies prove that CBD continues to aid in AUD and other addictive behaviors, present progress with alcoholics who have used CBD and medical cannabis to reduce drinking is hopeful. 

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