Updated Research on CBD and Alcohol Addiction, Withdrawals, and Tolerance
We were only able to touch base on research specific to alcohol addiction.
It's time to correct that.
Estimates show that 50% of alcohol is consumed by 10% of drinkers.
Roughly 40% of the risk is associated with genetics (there are clues there)
Alcohol is very different from other addictive drugs in how it works in the brain.
We'll also look at WHY some people are drawn to alcohol in the first place.
This is key to unraveling the tolerance side as well as the original reason to drink chronically (self-medication essentially).
Otherwise, addressing addiction is likely to fail without first addressing what hole alcohol was filling in (with less and less effect over time).
Finally, we'll touch base on research specifically to CBD's effect on addiction pathways specific to alcohol.
It turns out that it directly impacts the two main "channels" that alcohol stimulates (GABA and serotonin).
We'll also touch on NAC and psilocybin, two substances (one common, the other coming around the bend) which are showing profound effects on addiction.
Here are the sections we'll cover:
- The key pathways of alcohol addiction
- Dopamine and alcohol addiction
- The process of alcohol tolerance
- Estrogen and alcohol (listen up ladies)
- Neurogenesis and alcohol addiction
- The genetics of alcoholism
- Research on CBD and alcohol addiction
- A quick look at NAC and psilocybin for alcohol addiction
- How much CBD for alcohol addiction
- How long does CBD take to work
- What's the best CBD for alcohol addiction
Let's get started!
The key pathways of alcohol addiction
It may be the oldest addiction.
Alcohol is different from many of the other drugs because of its simplicity chemically.
Technically, it's a depressant (go figure). This just means that it suppresses activity in the brain.
This speaks to its primary means of action on the GABA and glutamate pathways.
GABA is our brain's "brake pedal". It slows activity both within and between neurons.
Alcohol's direct effect is to boost GABA activity very much like benzos (see CBD versus benzos).
Hence, the term depressant.
You can see this directly with slowed motor skills, thought processes, etc.
Also, GABA and glutamate have downstream effects on different brain areas and other neurotransmitters!
For example, if you calm down activity in neurons or brain areas that monitor and control inhibition, you can see the opposite!
Loss of inhibition or self-control, recklessness, and even aggression!
It's like the brake has been turned off on your monitoring systems.
GABA is probably the keyhole to fill with alcohol.
Think of what too little GABA looks like:
- Poor sleep
- Panic attacks
In fact, the tie in with GABA's opposing force, glutamate, is showing across almost every mental health issue.
This is the new wave of research right now.
We did a full review of Glutamate and mental health since it's so fascinating.
GABA and glutamate are inseparable...two sides of the same coin.
Brake pedal. Gas pedal.
If someone has a deficit in GABA (or too much using it up...stress, trauma, infection, etc), alcohol is going to feel a little too good.
In fact, there's a 29% co-risk between alcohol abuse and anxiety disorders!
Then there's serotonin.
In humans, for example, the levels of serotonin metabolites in the urine and blood increase after a single drinking session, indicating increased serotonin release in the nervous system
Serotonin is a master regulator of mood. In fact, it lies at the heart of all human behavior.
It's generally called the "feel good" neurotransmitter but that's not quite accurate.
Since GABA/Glutamate are the throttles for every other neurotransmitter, you see effects across many pathways including acetylcholine (focus), norepinephrine (arousal), opioid receptors (pain/pleasure), and more.
There's one in particular though that we need to look at when it becomes an addiction.
Dopamine and alcohol addiction
People think of dopamine as a pleasure generating thing but it doesn't have that effect.
It's more like "do that again".
Generally, it promotes food, water, and sex (let's call it ambition) but drugs like alcohol have a very specific effect there.
You could argue that they wouldn't be addictive without this dopamine.
People don't get addicted to broccoli.
Here's the difference.
An average dopamine range might be around 0-30 pg/mL.
After starvation of deprivation of water, and then subsequent food or drink, this may jump to 50-80 pg/mL.
Addictive drugs have a side hustle (beyond the GABA and serotonin boost) of spiking dopamine.
There's a rush of dopamine with alcohol intake way higher than 50-80 range above.
In fact, when researchers blocked dopamine neurons and gave rats alcohol long term, they consumed less than rats without the block...
In order to pinpoint the specific mechanism, Lanca performed fetal dopaminergic transplants of the ventral mesencephalon and found increased DA levels and a 40 to 50% reduction in voluntary alcohol intake; in contrast, this effect was not observed in rats receiving a sham-operation with dopamine-poor transplants
Here's the issue with all these players (GABA, serotonin, and dopamine).
As we use alcohol more and more, our brain pushes back the other way to offset this artificial spiking.
This leads us to tolerance.
The process of alcohol tolerance
People may be drawn to alcohol initially to fill holes in GABA or serotonin but tolerance is key to stopping it (along with finding other ways to fill those holes!).
Here's the deal.
Alcohol is boosting GABA and serotonin. This feels great especially if you're running low.
So you drink more and more.
The brain sees this outside spiking and it pushes the other way by reducing both receptor sensitivity and even numbers long term.
One night of drinking won't lead to this...just the handover of these being depleted/exhausted.
Long term or chronic use of alcohol, however, will lead to actual changes in the brain.
That's why long term drinkers who stop cold turkey can actually have seizures (excess glutamate "gas pedal" and not enough GABA).
Since the brain is getting bombarded with GABA, it suppresses the natural pathway.
When the alcohol drops off, there's virtually no GABA function, and seizures can occur (anxiety at the least).
Same thing for serotonin (low levels tied to depression, etc).
Then there's dopamine.
As the brain deeps downregulating dopamine function, you get to a point where the alcohol just barely makes you feel normal (the 30 pg/mL range).
This is the process of tolerance.
We'll look below on how long it takes to reverse this because, without a change, withdrawals are brutal.
- Take away GABA - anxiety, irritability, insomnia
- Take away serotonin - low mood, depression, many behavioral issues
- Take away dopamine - no energy or motivation, can't get out of bed
See what we're facing? We'll need something to help address this (look at CBD and NAC below).
Let's take a quick detour for the ladies with a fascinating tie in with alcohol.
Estrogen and alcohol (listen up ladies)
In our CBD and perimenopause review, we looked at how hormones directly drive GABA and serotonin.
Progesterone is a huge supporter of GABA via its metabolite pregnenolone (see our review on pregnenolone - the key behind the new blockbuster postpartum depression medication albeit 1000's of times cheaper).
Estrogen is a major supporter of serotonin pathways.
Goodness, women are losing progesterone starting in their 30's - down to about 50% at age 40.
Estrogen drops off a cliff around age 47.
No wonder women are the new drinkers and the mid to late '40s is the induction period.
Of course, they suffer from the same tolerance effects above.
Many doctors will just write a script for benzos (boosts GABA) or SSRIs (boosts serotonin) but those suffer from their own versions of tolerance, addiction, and short term effectiveness.
We also did a full review on the safety and science behind estrogen since there's so much misinformation out there since the WHO study in the early 2000s.
Finally, we looked at this whole self-medicating effect on our Alcohol and perimenopause.
These are critical hormones for women and this intersection with alcohol's effects on GABA and serotonin is uncanny.
Finally, working our way to how we retrain the brain away from alcohol.
Neurogenesis and alcohol addiction
Let's explain the work neurogenesis so we don't lose anyone.
This is too important not to understand especially for addiction.
Neurogenesis is the ongoing process of how your brain repairs, rewires and builds new connections.
It's a physical process...actual branches spreading out and connecting with others.
You can see it on scans!
It's also the remodeling of pathways such as GABA and serotonin above.
Neurogenesis is the basis for all types of learning.
Any addiction including alcohol abuse is a kind of learning.
Just like learning a language, learning an addiction takes repetition.
For some people, they learn this very quickly while others may take years or decades.
This is part of why it's so hard to quick.
There's a deeply established "river" cut through the bank linking cues, cravings, use, and relief for alcohol (or any drug really).
The process of allowing this river to dry up and wither away requires neurogenesis!
Otherwise, water (behavior) will always flow to the lowest point (drinking).
To make matters worse, drugs like alcohol can actually hamper the brain's ability to "un-learn" their addiction:
Alcohol is a pharmacologically promiscuous drug capable of interfering with adult neurogenesis through multiple mechanisms.
No wonder it's so hard to "forget" drinking.
In fact, outside of the dopamine reward system, this little trick of blocking dynamic change in the brain may be what makes a drug addictive versus one that isn't.
Cocaine definitely has this effect as it suppresses the "unlearning" pathway of the brain.
Look what happens during abstinence:
In the new study, senior co-author Crews and co-author Nixon found inhibition of neurogenesis, or brain cell development, during alcohol dependency, followed by a pronounced increase in new neuron formation in the hippocampus within four-to-five weeks of abstinence. This included a twofold burst in brain cell proliferation at day seven of abstinence.
We just have to get past that initial withdrawal period so the brain can regain its ability to rewrite itself.
Exercise, mindful meditation, and psilocybin all have powerful effects on this pathway.
One last stop before CBD with clues that bolster everything above.
The genetics of alcoholism
Two groupings of genes are prominent with risk for alcohol addiction.
One set deals directly with the enzymes that break down alcohol.
This is the basis for the extreme risk of alcohol addiction for Native Americans who may not have this gene at all.
Furthermore, many Asians may have one copy and therefore have the flushing effect as alcohol's toxic metabolite, acetaldehyde is unable to break down.
The theory is that alcohol hits the brain at a much more potent level thus greatly accelerating the process of addiction.
The second gene suite is fascinating.
You guessed it...GABA pathway.
This coincides with the risk for anxiety and alcohol use as GABA is a major player in all anxiety disorders.
It also explains why women who are losing progesterone are becoming the drinking demographic in their 40's and beyond.
We're finally there.
What about CBD and alcohol addiction?
Research on CBD and alcohol addiction
Let's zero down to alcohol abuse.
We'll first cover the reasons that people may self-medicate with alcohol (as chronic use is key to addiction):
- CBD and GABA/Glutamate for alcohol abuse
- CBD and serotonin for alcohol abuse
We'll then look at CBD and alcohol research specifically
- CBD and alcohol tolerance
- CBD and alcohol withdrawals
- CBD and alcohol addiction
- CBD and alcohol recovery
Let's get started. At the beginning of the course (the reason for the 2nd and 3rd drink).
- CBD and GABA/Glutamate for alcohol abuse
- What does CBD do for the GABA and glutamate balancing act?
First, after drinking for a long period of time, our GABA/glutamate system is completely out of balance due to tolerance.
This is why people can have seizures if they stop cold-turkey. Same as benzos (which is a clue).
One interesting study looked at differences in GABA/glutamate in people with autism where that system is operating differently. This gives us great insight into CBD's bi-phasic (different results depending on the state) results.
This is what they found:
Across regions, CBD increased GABA+ in controls, but decreased GABA+ in ASD; the group difference in change in GABA + in the DMPFC was significant.
Let's translate, please.
Why would there be different results?
First, CBD would increase GABA in the control group but a decrease in people with autism.
The key piece is where this was most pronounced...the prefrontal cortex (dmpfc).
Research is showing that people with autism have reduced activity in this area which leads to deficits in social interaction and cognition.
After all, this area governs much of our more complex thought.
CBD actually INCREASED activity in this area for the people with autism!
We have to really understand how CBD works to get to the bottom of this.
CBD appears to work like a feedback system on key pathways.
This is why we don't see overdoses at very high levels or even negative side effects with increasing doses (tested up to 1500 mg).
Nowhere is this more apparent than with cancer.
CBD can have three different effects:
- Healthy cell with low inflammation - no effect
- Health cell with high inflammation - CBD reduces inflammation
- Cancerous or infected cell - CBD INCREASES inflammation
This makes sense once you understand that inflammation or oxidative stress is how the body naturally gets rid of faulty cells.
Chemo and radiation are just giant doses of oxidative stress.
Back to GABA/glutamate.
The researcher's response:
CBD modulates glutamate-GABA systems, but prefrontal-GABA systems respond differently in ASD.
"Modulate" is the keyword there. Not boost. Not drop. Manage.
Remember, we need to recover our original GABA/glutamate levels from before we drank but we may also need to support them further since that may be the reason alcohol felt so good, to begin with.
An initial GABA deficit.
Read why this might occur at our CBD and GABA pathway review along with other research.
CBD and serotonin for alcohol abuse
This may be CBD's secret weapon.
Serotonin is directly involved in all human behavior and we can include craving, compulsion, risk decision making, etc under its command.
Sounds relevant to alcohol addiction.
In fact, serotonin is a key player in the withdrawal effects of alcohol:
During alcohol withdrawal, serotonin release in the nucleus accumbens of rats is suppressed and this reduction is partially reversed by self-administration of alcohol during withdrawal.
We have to unwind this or we'll never get past addiction.
So...what does CBD do with serotonin?
Let's further unravel the "bi-phasic" results we saw in the autism study above for GABA.
Technically, CBD is a negative allosteric modulator of serotonin.
Goodness….what does that mean?
- Some substances will increase activity in a pathway (called an agonist)
- Some will reduce it (antagonist)
- Others will block it (called an inhibitor)
Usually, this is a signal from neuron to another - one direction - which causes the result.
CBD is the opposite of serotonin.
It's a message sent back the other way (neuron B back to neuron A).
A feedback mechanism!!
- We're fine over here...stop sending.
- We're running low...keep it coming!
That's simplified but it speaks to why CBD doesn't result in overdoses up to 1500 mg.
You can definitely overdose on SSRI's (an agonist). It's called serotonin syndrome and it's very dangerous (see CBD and serotonin syndrome).
Let's look at research on balancing this system which has been whipsawed by alcohol for a period of time now.
Two studies come to mind since we're talking about re-balancing serotonin.
First, a study on CBD after an injury was caused to rats.
This injury causes heightened pain sensitivity (also under serotonin's control) and imbalance along this pathway.
What was CBD's effect?:
Seven days of treatment with CBD reduced mechanical allodynia, decreased anxiety-like behavior, and normalized 5-HT activity.
5-HT is short for serotonin. The keyword there is "normalize". That's exactly what we want after alcohol's tolerance effect on serotonin.
The reduced anxiety and pain are side-benefit which is key to getting through withdrawals.
The second study shows the variability of CBD depending on the state (very important with serotonin since too little or too much is very bad).
Don't worry...we'll decipher:
In vivo microdialysis revealed that the administration of CBD significantly enhanced serotonin and glutamate levels in vmPFCx in a different manner depending on the emotional state and the duration of the treatment.
There's the prefrontal cortex again (PFC) which is critical to human behavior.
The fascinating piece is "different manner depending on emotional state".
CBD's effect would differ depending on the serotonin pathway state at that time.
We don't want to just juice serotonin-like SSRI's (which build tolerance by the way).
They were looking at anti-depressant effects but the next statement is so valuable for rescuing serotonin function after prolonged periods of alcohol use:
Moreover, adaptive changes in pre- and post-synaptic 5-HT1A receptor functionality were also found after chronic CBD.
People...this is the CORE of tolerance.
The brain will literally reduce receptor sensitivity and numbers after a period of alcohol exposure.
This means that your serotonin (the "feel-good" neurotransmitter) is even lower than when you first started drinking.
Alcohol might just bring it to normal after a period of time or even below normal.
At some point, with enough alcohol for enough time, you're just drinking not to feel terrible!
We have to "rescue" this pathway and this is done via neurogenesis and the "adaptive changes" in the receptors noted above.
Okay...we've been looking at the two key pathways and CBD.
Let's now go to alcohol addiction itself.
CBD and alcohol tolerance
Tolerance is the process of diminishing returns.
If a chemical is pumping levels of key neurotransmitters (like GABA and serotonin), the brain will push back the other way by reducing sensitivity (flow) and numbers of receptors in that pathway.
This is a gradual process but an increasing one.
The key is to speed the process of normalization so withdrawals are shorter, less pronounced, and not a deal-breaker.
- Without GABA, anxiety, insomnia, irritability, racing thoughts, and even seizures are the result.
- Without serotonin, low mood, depression, irritability, sleep, and sexual disturbances are the result.
That's quite a list to fight against!
Studies on THC addiction (see CBD and cannabis addiction) show that the receptors start to come back within a few days with full normalization by 4 weeks.
Neurogenesis is the key here as any physical change in the brain falls under its jurisdiction.
Let's start there.
Let's zoom into the hippocampus, our seat of memory, and emotional control.
Remember how we said cocaine was especially tricky in that it affect our ability to "unlearn" it's use?
Look at this study:
we found extensive hippocampal gene expression changes common to both cocaine-addicted and alcoholic individuals that may reflect neuronal adaptations common to both addictions.
We have to disarm these adaptations in the hippocampus.
From the THC study, looked at CBD's effect:
Our findings suggest a restorative effect of CBD on the subicular and CA1 subfields in current cannabis users, especially those with greater lifetime exposure to cannabis.
That's a major area of the hippocampus.
"Restorative effect". In fact, they found that CBD countered the negative reduction in hippocampus volume from chronic THC use.
That's just one example but you learn more at CBD and neurogenesis or brain repair.
We want to re-balance our key pathways as fast as possible.
CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and other treatments for alcoholism basically use a slow-motion version of neurogenesis.
Slowly building new brain pathways (the rivers from above) from repetition.
CBD, exercise, and mindful medication are just a faster way to do so (may even speed the effects of the various treatment).
Check out CBD and BDNF to understand what's at the heart of this remodeling process.
We did a full review of CBD and tolerance (it doesn't build tolerance).
We have to survive this "transition" phase in the meantime. What about withdrawals?
CBD and alcohol withdrawals
The withdrawal effects of alcohol addiction are your garden-variety list of living hells.
We have a great study on CBD and opioid withdrawals to use as a benchmark since many of the symptoms are the same and the opioid system is also in play with alcohol.
More importantly, they share the laundry list of bad withdrawal symptoms although alcohol tacks on seizures (another clue for CBD).
Here are the results from the opioid and CBD study:
Acute CBD administration, in contrast to placebo, significantly reduced both craving and anxiety induced by the presentation of salient drug cues compared with neutral cues.
The really interesting piece is that this effect lasted for 7 days after 3 days of CBD use!
In addition, CBD reduced the drug cue-induced physiological measures of heart rate and salivary cortisol levels. There were no significant effects on cognition, and there were no serious adverse effects.
This is the heart of cravings. That revved up feeling that literally shows in your heart rate.
Cortisol is our primary stress hormone (see CBD and cortisol) so that's a critical piece.
As for the other symptoms, check out:
Finally, we did a full review of CBD and withdrawal. CBD doesn't cause withdrawal since it doesn't build tolerance!
Okay...let's dive into CBD and alcohol addiction research.
CBD and alcohol addiction research
We'll start with the animal studies with alcohol.
The first study looked at craving for alcohol in a breed of mice designed to overdrink:
The first study in male C57BL/6J mice, an ethanol-preferring strain, demonstrated that the administration of CBD reduced reinforcing properties, motivation, and ethanol relapse
The key point is that increasing doses caused more reductions in ethanol consumption.
They even drilled down to the genetic level:
CBD treatment was associated with changes in gene expression of key targets closely related to AUD.
Another study looked at mice which were induced to chronic alcohol use and relapse:
CBD reduced the number of responses during context-induced reinstatement (∼50% decrease) on sessions (days) 1, 4, and 7 of the treatment phase.
Context induced reinstatement means responding to cues for alcohol.
This is the situation where you see a bottle of wine or go to a restaurant and are offered beer.
This starts the whole process (that's wired into the brain until we unwind it).
Speaking of neurogenesis (remodeling brain pathways):
CBD effect was long-lasting since the 50% reduction was still visible 3, 18, 48, and even 138 days (sessions) after the CBD treatment phase.
That's amazing! Look...a simple adjustment of neurotransmitters won't show 138 days later (or even a 138 minutes later).
This speaks to neurogenesis for such long term effects!
One final piece to this study which is really fascinating and speaks to a deep underlying issue with drug addiction.
Delayed gratification. Putting off pleasure now for a reward later. This is a deep personality trait that has been shown to be the key to drug addiction and even success in life!
Preference for delayed large reward was significantly lower in rats with ethanol history compared to ethanol-naïve rats and this effect was fully reversed by CBD.
CBD offset the impulsivity for immediate gratification!
Now humans are more complex but....we still share this reward now versus wait for more effect.
There are clinical trials as we speak for CBD and alcohol use in humans for the addiction question.
In the meantime, we have studies on how CBD offsets some of the damage of alcohol use for the brain and liver.
This one opens an interesting new avenue that most people (or even doctors) think about:
CBD significantly reduces alcohol-induced neuronal loss after a binge and chronic ethanol exposure in preclinical studies, possibly through immunomodulatory properties involving regulation of the cerebral adenosine system, and antioxidant
Okay, avoiding brain damage (loss of neurons) is indeed important but we're fascinated with the "immunomodulatory" effects.
What on earth would our immune system have to do with alcohol use disorder?
Oh, just you wait!
A fascinating study found a vicious cycle where alcohol use would increase inflammation (IL)-1β while reducing IL10 anti-inflammatory agents) and another study showed that increased inflammation (IL-1β) would drive alcohol consumption.
The full description is here (at about 15 minutes):
This is pretty groundbreaking research. The immune system is becoming a key player in all mental health including addiction.
A study of CBD and Alzheimers speaks directly to (IL)-1β:
Cannabidiol in vivo blunts beta-amyloid induced neuroinflammation by suppressing IL-1beta and iNOS expression.
In fact, it calms all inflammatory agents and increases the anti-inflammatory IL10 referenced in the study above.
People, this is groundbreaking and brand new research.
We look forward to future clinical trials with humans.
Finally, how might CBD help with the long term process?
CBD and alcohol recovery
Let's break this down into short term and long term concerns.
- Short term, there's withdrawals and craving.
- Long term, there's is the process of remodeling the old addiction pathways
We can't get to the long term without surviving the short term part.
Let's look at that first.
The main symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are:
- Racing heart rates
- Seizures, hallucinations, and more serious issues
A grab-bag of nasty.
You can directly tie a great deal of this (anxiety, tremors, seizures, etc) to a sudden drop in GABA (brake pedal) and boost in glutamate (gas pedal).
Serotonin fills in the holes nicely (fever, depression, nausea, irritability, heart rate, etc).
Interestingly, CBD is showing powerful effects along these lines.
- CBD and anxiety
- CBD and depression
- CBD and nausea
- CBD and irritability (via perimenopause...a drop in estrogen which leads to drop in serotonin)
- CBD and heart rate (same perimenopause effect)
As for seizures, we've haven't done a deep dive yet but this is literally how CBD was discovered.
Seizures are a great proxy here since it's primarily a function of imbalance in GABA and glutamate.
The opioid withdrawal study had similar effects with a well-crafted study on CBD (double-blind, placebo) for those symptoms (just missing the seizures).
If we can survive or even get relief during the short term (we'll speak to dosage below), we might get to the long term recovery.
Neurogenesis is key here. We have re-write (over-write really) those existing pathways that feel so natural.
CBD's effects here are well established here.
Let's look at two additional tools...one that speaks to the GABA/glutamate balance and the other to boost neurogenesis.
Welcome to the new research on alcohol recovery.
A quick look at NAC and psilocybin for alcohol addiction
Look...we focus on CBD here and with good reason. It's very fascinating.
That being said, if we come to cross compelling research on other substances, we're going to go all in.
If it reduces suffering, it's worth it.
NAC and psilocybin are such cases.
Full reviews are here:
Notice how mental health and addiction go hand and hand (self-medicating for pathways not functioning properly)?
A quick recap...we'll leave the heavy research to those reviews.
NAC (N-acetylcysteine) is a safe, cheap, and readily available supplement (buy here).
It boosts glutathione, our body's natural anti-oxidant, and scavenger of bad things.
Glutathione has an interesting side role as a reservoir for excess glutamate!
Glutamate is the new star of emerging research on every mental health issue and addiction.
Check out glutamate for mental health and addiction if you want us to back that up!
People who drink should look at NAC anyway since glutathione is tasked with dealing with the damage of alcohol in the body. Especially the liver.
Our main focus is the glutamate and GABA pathway. Half the equation with alcohol.
Then there's psilocybin.
This is the psychoactive chemical behind magic mushrooms.
Goodness, the research on psilocybin and addiction is fascinating.
It's slowly becoming legal (following the cannabis trajectory) but check out the review.
Psilocybin has two powerful means of action.
It's an explosion of neurogenesis.
It also "resets" brain networks.
That last part may sound fantastic but check out the research.
There are studies (before it was made illegal) where one user had a profound effect on addiction and just about every rigidity in the mental process you can find.
We expect this to replace antidepressants in the next decade. Good riddance (see CBD versus SSRIs).
Also, check out mindful medication and exercise for neurogenesis.
Our net take away for now is NAC and CBD are potentially powerful allies with alcohol abuse disorder and we look forward to future human trials.
Some practical questions.
How much CBD for alcohol addiction
This gets back to the short term and long term phases of alcohol recovery.
Research is pointing to higher amounts for more serious issues.
For example, the opioid withdrawal study was based on up to 800 mg of CBD.
Studies on other more acute issues (psychosis, etc) are usually in the 600-800 mg ranges.
This would point to higher doses for the first phase of withdrawals.
The opioid study lasted for 3 days with effects carrying on for 7 days.
We'll get into how long it takes to work in the next section.
Then there's the second phase.
Studies have shown that peak neurogenesis appears around 300 mg doses per day.
Once the hardcore withdrawal symptoms slow down, this 300 mg reflects maximum brain rewiring.
Two phrases jump out of the research.
Let's look at durations.
How long does CBD take to work
Research leads the way.
The key is when do the receptors get back to their normal state.
Remember that GABA and serotonin have been pounded for a while now and the brain has downregulated these pathways right down to genetics.
In studies on benzo withdrawals and addiction, it took 6-8 weeks to fully recover function.
In studies on THC and anandamide receptors, they started to normalize within 2-3 days and fully recovered 4 weeks later.
Studies on alcohol withdrawals directly reflect these general trends:
The mild-moderate form of AWS is often self-managed by patients or disappears within 2–7 days from the last drink
That's just the withdrawal side so this intimates that the higher dose CBD would be for about 7 days.
Say...600-800mg daily for 7 days.
Afterwhich, 300 mg (peak neurogenesis) for 4-8 weeks depending on the duration of alcohol, age, and status of GABA/serotonin pathways.
This is all based on the research available.
As for NAC, the studies pointed to 1800-2000 mg daily (see review here).
Of course, work with your doctor or naturopath with any supplement and/or alcohol recovery.
The risk of seizure after prolonged use of alcohol is a serious one and would likely point to a gradual approach.
CBD's effects on seizures are well documented so if anything, it's a positive on this note.
Again, the research points to GABA (which is at the heart of alcohol recovery):
The differential effects of CBD suggest that the cannabinoid acts to inhibit seizure spread in the CNS by an action on GABA, but not glycine, mechanisms.
NAC can take 6-8 weeks to work and this speaks to a long term effect on neurogenesis (see review here).
What's the best CBD for alcohol addiction
There are some basic requirements that are essential:
- Organically grown in the US at an FDA registered farm
- CO2 processed
- 3rd party tested
- No solvents
- No heavy metals
- No pesticides
- No mold
We actually test ours twice since our whole family uses it.
That's just the start.
We focus on CBD isolate (as opposed to full-spectrum) for two reasons.
First, all the research is based on CBD isolate. Not full spectrum.
More importantly, 40-60% of the population has histamine or allergy issues.
This number goes up as you get older and for women...two critical demographics for alcohol abuse.
Remember how inflammatory markers can increase the consumption of alcohol?
Histamine response is a form of inflammation and we want to avoid it.
People can actually get allergic reactions to full spectrum that make them feel similar symptoms to alcohol withdrawal (anxiety, nausea, fever, etc).
That's the wrong direction. We want to calm this response and you'll see it in our reviews.
Finally, there's cost.
Look...the research is pointing to higher levels (300 mg to 800 mg).
We have to be able to afford this.
Many companies are ripping people off. Plain and simple.
For that reason, we price our 6000mg bottle (that's about 20 doses at 300 mg) at the lowest cost per mg of CBD we can find on the market.
About 2-3 cents per mg BEFORE the different discounts (up to 30%).
Why? We've been there. If you read the founder's story, it was one of suffering due to brutal perimenopause.
The goal is to educate people on exactly how CBD works and try to make it as accessible as possible.
That's our penance for finding our way out of that perimenopause.
Addiction is a different prison no doubt but they may share a similar key.
Be well. Take care of yourself. Help others.
Always work with a doctor or naturopath with any supplement!
The information provided here is not intended to treat an illness or substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified healthcare provider.