CBD against alcohol addiction?


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On the legal position of CBD in the Therapeutic Products Advertising Act:

There are numerous studies that provide evidence that CBD has various therapeutic properties and can provide support for many ailments. Since cannabidiol is currently covered by the Therapeutic Products Advertising Act, we are not allowed to make any therapeutic claims at this point. We would also like to point out that our products are not considered as medical preparations.

For many people, an after-work beer, a glass of red wine in the evening or white wine with lunch is part of everyday life, so to speak. What never becomes a problem for some can have serious consequences for others: It is not uncommon for alcohol abuse to occur, resulting in a dependency disorder. If this is the case, the treatment of an alcohol disorder always belongs in medical hands. Now studies indicate that CBD (cannabidiol) can have a calming and anxiety-relieving effect, so that the question arises whether the cannabinoid can help support addiction management. Furthermore, preliminary studies show that CBD may have therapeutic potential for the consequential damages caused by alcohol.

Types and symptoms
How do addictive disorders develop?
How are addictive disorders treated?
How can CBD work against withdrawal symptoms?
CBD for addiction
Effect of CBD on liver damage
Can CBD also be an addictive substance?

When do we speak of an addiction? Addiction is described as a psychological or physical dependence on a behaviour or a substance. A psychological addiction occurs when there is a compulsive, irresistible desire for a substance or a behaviour. A physical dependence disease is only spoken of when people develop a tolerance to the substance or behaviour and suffer from discomfort during withdrawal, provided the substance is withdrawn from the body. Often the dependence disease has negative consequences on the body, the psyche and social life.

Types and symptoms

The types of addiction are nowadays very diverse and are therefore basically divided into substance-related and non-substance-related addictions. The most common substance-related addictions include nicotine, alcohol, cannabis, cocaine, heroin and sleeping pills or tranquillisers. Non-substance-related addictions include, for example, internet addiction, gambling addiction, sex addiction, shopping addiction, work addiction or eating addiction.

An addiction is present if at least three of the following symptoms are evident:

  • strong craving for the addictive substance
  • Increased tolerance to the addictive substance
  • loss of control over the amount and frequency of consumption
  • repeated withdrawal symptoms when consumption is reduced or stopped
  • loss of interest in other activities
  • Continuation of consumption, although the person concerned is aware of the physical, psychological and social damages

How do addictions develop?

There are different approaches to the development of addiction. The so-called triad model comprises three different elements that interact with each other. The model states that both the person, the social environment and the addictive substance can contribute to an addictive disease.

The first component, the human being, comprises the individual life history and personality development. However, the physical and psychological aspects also play an important role. When a certain addictive substance is consumed, it affects the reward system in the brain on a physical level and triggers feelings of happiness. This creates the incentive to consume the substance again. With regular use, the body gets used to the feelings of happiness that result and develops an uncontrolled craving for the addictive substance.

From a psychological point of view, people can develop an addictive disorder due to a lack of self-esteem. Those who find it difficult to cope with grief, anxiety or mental illnesses such as depression are more likely to develop addiction. In this case, the consumption of the addictive substance is seen as therapy or relief against the inadequacies.

Furthermore, the social environment can trigger addiction, for example in the form of peer pressure. If, for example, the person concerned cannot withstand the stress, pressure to perform or competition at work, this can also promote addictive behaviour. Addictive disorders in the family can also increase the risk of addiction.

Research results show that the addictive substance and its use can have different physical as well as psychological effects and are therefore more or less addictive. Furthermore, both the accessibility and the effect of the addictive substance have an influence on the likelihood of whether and how often the addictive substance is used.

How are addictive diseases treated?

The treatment of an addiction depends on the type and severity of the addictive disease. However, the goal of every treatment is the same: abstinence, i.e. the complete renunciation of the addictive substance. Furthermore, the therapy aims to improve the health of the patient.

GPs or addiction counselling centres are often the first point of contact. They hold talks with the patients to motivate them to change their behaviour. Afterwards, different therapy approaches are suggested and often combined with each other:

  • Detoxification (alcohol withdrawal): Detoxification often takes place in a specialised clinic under the supervision of doctors. The addictive substance is first gradually weaned off and the symptoms are often treated with medication until consumption is finally completely stopped.
  • Drug substitutes: The affected person is given other (substitute) substances to facilitate weaning from the addictive substance.
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy: This therapy focuses on restructuring thoughts and actions. Different techniques are practised and repeated until they are mastered. The aim is to help people improve self-control and identify triggers that can lead to relapse.
  • Self-help groups: Self-help is based on voluntary associations of people who exchange information with each other about, for example, their alcohol consumption.

How can CBD work against withdrawal symptoms?

Before going into the topic of cannabidiol (CBD), it must be explicitly mentioned that alcohol addiction is a serious disease and that it cannot be treated with freely available CBD products (e.g. CBD oils). Various studies indicate that the cannabinoid from the hemp plant can be used to support various complaints such as inner restlessness or anxiety.

Fears play a significant role in overcoming an addiction. This is because there is a great fear of relapsing. Often, those affected also relapse when they get into a stressful situation. In this respect, it could help those affected if they reduce their fears and stress. According to a study, CBD has the potential to have a supportive effect.

The researchers investigated whether CBD can reduce the relapse rate in alcohol- and cocaine-dependent rats. While one group was treated with CBD oil once a day, the other group received no active substance. Afterwards, the rats were exposed to stressful situations to increase the risk of relapse.

The result states that the CBD group relapsed less often than the untreated rats. In addition, the rats that received the CBD were less anxious and also less impulsive.

It is particularly interesting that the CBD group still showed a lower relapse rate in terms of drug and alcohol use than the control group even five months after the last CBD administration. Although the exact mechanisms of action are not clear, CBD could have the potential to be integrated into drug therapy as a support, according to the researchers.

CBD for addiction

Cannabidiol (CBD) is not a miracle drug and cannot eliminate the pressing craving for alcohol consumption and the risk of relapse, if anything it can have calming and anxiety-relieving effects. People suffering from alcoholism need professional therapy in which, among other things, they also work out strategies against the craving. In addition, one's own will to overcome alcoholism is always decisive in order to be able to achieve success.

Effect of CBD on liver damage

Cannabinoids from the hemp plant such as THC and CBD are considered to have a broad therapeutic potential. Although science is still in its infancy, research results so far are very promising - also with regard to the effect of CBD.

Regular alcohol consumption has a negative effect on health, but especially on the liver. Alcohol-related liver damage is very common. In a study, the researchers state that increased oxidative stress is a possible trigger for alcohol-related steatosis. Therefore, they examined the effects of CBD, which also functions as a radical scavenger (antioxidant), on mice. The research results showed that CBD could protect the liver from acute alcohol-induced steatosis.

In addition, researchers found in a laboratory experiment that CBD might have the potential to have positive effects on alcohol-induced damage (neurodegeneration) in the brain. However, many more studies are needed to confirm the preliminary results and to derive a possible treatment.

Can CBD also be an addictive substance?

The UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) has reclassified cannabis with its intoxicating cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Previously, cannabis was equated with heroin and opioids. Now, cannabis is classified with a similar abuse and dependence potential as drugs such as morphine and oxycodone.

In this context, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated, following the submission of various reports, that certain cannabis-derived medicines such as cannabidiol (CBD) have no abuse or dependence potential, are generally well tolerated and have a good safety profile.


What does addictive disorder mean?

An addictive disorder is a disease that shows symptoms of a compulsive craving for a certain substance or activity. This arises when the particular addictive substance activates messenger substances that trigger euphoria and the brain thus perceives the addictive substance as a positive stimulus. Thus, this disorder is based on a dysfunction of the brain's reward system.

Does CBD help against alcohol addiction?

If there is pathological alcohol abuse, professional therapy should always be sought. CBD can be used as a supportive measure if necessary. However, CBD alone is not suitable for treating pathological alcohol consumption.

Is CBD addictive?

Basically, everything in life can be addictive, be it alcohol, cigarettes, sweets or shopping, for example. In this respect, cannabidiol (CBD) can also be "addictive" in purely theoretical terms. However, the WHO classifies CBD in such a way that there is no potential for abuse or dependence. Nevertheless, CBD can cause side effects and interactions with medicines, which is why a doctor should be consulted before taking it.