Can Cannabis Help with Alcohol Withdrawal?


cannabis for alcohol withdrawal

One of the most common addiction problem that faces many across the world is the addiction to alcohol. The reduced restrictions that apply to alcohol in comparison to other substances that are actively known to create addiction has played a major role in the widespread of this addiction and the subsequent health problems associated with it.

Alcohol is readily accepted and consumed largely across different parts of the world which has seen the problems of people dealing with alcohol withdrawal taking preeminence too in different places as well following addiction. Once alcohol is being consumed continuously in large quantities, stopping becomes an issue as a certain level of dependency on alcohol is already being attained thus making  it difficult to stop. When the cessation of alcohol consumption is not properly mediated for a person that has developed a certain level of dependency, problems of alcohol withdrawal begin to develop which can have severe consequences. For chronic alcoholics, the need to stop the dependency on alcohol seems to be very great however, a serious problem lies ahead if the cessation is not properly mediated. For those wondering if ‘alcohol withdrawal’ is a thing, it is! And it’s no joke.

What  is Alcohol Withdrawal?

Alcohol withdrawal is described in the medical world as delirium tremens which describes a series of changes in the nervous system on the account of abrupt cessation of alcohol consumption after long periods of alcohol consumption. Delirium tremens occur when the alcohol cessation happens to fast and a breakdown of normal functions of the system begins to ensue which impairs the ability to perform normal social bodily functions.

The effects of delirium tremens are both physical and mental in nature and these effects can prove to be very problematic and life-threatening in some cases. Symptoms that are associated with delirium tremens include nausea, vomiting, insomnia, headaches, seizures, anxiety, disorientation, panic attacks, hallucinations, and mood swings.

Cannabis and Alcohol Withdrawal

The million dollar question, how can the problems of alcohol withdrawal be modulated, avoided or addressed has been a hot topic for a while now. Medical cannabis has shown promise in this area by putting cannabis forward as a suitable answer to both act as a substitute for alcohol and to limit the alcohol cravings and symptoms of delirium tremens and slowly chart the way to recovery. This position has been strengthened by studies that have gone into the application of cannabis to remedy alcohol withdrawal problems and one of such studies was shown in a paper by the Journal of Neuroscience which elucidated the ability of cannabis to protect nerves in the brainstem from the damage of alcohol.

The relationship between alcohol and cannabis has to do with some neurotransmitters in the brain, endocannabinoid receptors, and the cannabinoids present in the cannabis itself. Intake of alcohol has to do with mediating the balance between two neurotransmitters in the brain namely GABA and dopamine. However, alcohol also has an effect on the endocannabinoid system by reducing the activity of CB1 receptors and reducing the effect and action of the endocannabinoid system. This is what CBD in cannabis corrects by creating a necessary balance with respect to the endocannabinoid system and ensuring balance is reached when cessation leads to imbalance.

Cannabis and Delirium tremens symptoms

An increase in the use of medicinal cannabis can be all that is needed to ensure that cessation of alcohol is properly modulated. The cravings that are associated with an immediate cessation of alcohol can be catered for with the use of edibles and consumables made of cannabis. These will help to reduce the pangs of the cravings as the presence of CBD in the system ensures a calming effect and ensures relaxation. The cravings preempt relapse and promote a return to dependency on alcohol which is where the application of cannabis rich in CBD will be of tremendous help. The same applies to insomnia, seizures, and headaches as the calming and sedative effect of CBD rich cannabis strains initiates restoration of activity at the CB1 receptors.

Other mental symptoms of delirium tremens such as depression, panic attacks, and anxiety are also modulated by using cannabis in different ways. Diets can easily be enriched with CBD to limit the effect of such mental effects of delirium tremens. It is important to still note that the cannabis strains that will ensure the best of results for these are strains that have a low concentration of THC and high concentration of CBD. The non-psychoactive nature and sedative nature of CBD make it perfectly suitable to ensure that it can be used by people dealing with alcohol withdrawal.

Though the benefits are very much evident to see, there is still a need to stress that conscious studies are still being carried out to fully illustrate and show the benefits of using cannabis to deal with the effects of alcohol withdrawal. For every patient suffering from alcohol withdrawal, seeing a physician cannot also be overemphasized.

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