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Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States. Every year there are more than 480,000 deaths caused by smoking, that’s about 1 in every 5 deaths. The National Institute on Drug Abuse released a report in 2015 with these statistics, and it also found about 35 million smokers want to break their nicotine habit. For the people who do try to quit the habit, 85% of those who try to stop using tobacco products end up having a relapse within the first week of quitting.
Why is it so difficult to quit?
The studies show cigarette smokers think a lot about quitting, with many making several unsuccessful attempts to quit. Relapses are extremely common, and some find it can take up to 30 attempts to kick the habit for good.
The NIDA’s report found that nicotine stimulates the release of dopamine into the pleasure circuits of the brain. The brain then continuously craves this release, and the pattern has been formed. It comes as no surprise this study found nicotine can be as addictive as cocaine and heroin, and knowing this, it’s no surprise the difficulty people face when trying to quit smoking.
There is hope with CBD!
Cannabidiol, or CBD for short, is the main cannabinoid found in hemp plants, and is non-psychoactive. Unlike THC, CBD does not give you a buzz or get you high. With CBD’s anti-anxiety effects, along with its minimal side effects, researchers decided to take a closer look at how this cannabinoid can affect quitting smoking. The recent studies are showing great promise with using CBD to help quit smoking cigarettes. With a regular regimen of an oral CBD option or by using CBD vapes, researchers are finding smokers are cutting down the number of cigarettes they smoke.
Research Study 2013
Led by Dr. CJ Morgan of the Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit at the University College of London, this research study chose 24 smokers to participate. The group was split into two equal groups, and all were given an inhaler with instructions on how to use it. The participants were not told to not try to reduce or stop their smoking habit. Instead, for a period of one week, anytime the participant felt the urge to smoke they were to use the inhaler instead.
This was a blind study, with half of the group received inhalers that contained CBD, while the others only had a placebo, neither group knowing which they received. The group that received the placebo inhalers had no major difference in how many cigarettes they smoked during that week. The group that received the CBD inhalers reduced the number of cigarettes consumed by 40%! This huge drop was attained without the participants even trying to reduce their smoking.
Dr. CJ Morgan thinks this incredible result may be due to how memories associated with smoking are altered by CBD. A smoker is often triggered when they see or smell or cigarette, or if a stressful situation arises. These triggers remind the brain on how good it feels to have the pleasure portion of the brain stimulated by the dopamine that’s released by the nicotine. With CBD altering how these memories come up, these triggers affect the person less and less.
Research Study 2018
During this double-blind cross-over study at the University of College London, 30 smokers were given either 800mg CBD orally, or a placebo the morning after not smoking overnight. The participants were then shown pictures of tobacco cues. The researchers repeatedly measured withdrawal, craving, side effects, blood pressure, and heart rate.
During this double-blind cross-over study at the University of College London, 30 smokers were given either 800mg CBD orally, or a placebo the morning after not smoking overnight.
The participants were then shown pictures of tobacco cues. The researchers repeatedly measured withdrawal, craving, side effects, blood pressure, and heart rate.
The study found that the tobacco cues had reduced appeal to the group given the CBD. These ‘cues’ would typically give the participant the urge to smoke a cigarette. One of the researchers of the study, Dr. Tom Freeman of the Kings College London Senior Academic Fellow, concluded that
“These findings suggest that cannabidiol has promise as a novel treatment for tobacco addiction. It might be particularly effective when abstinent smokers are exposed to cues that trigger relapse, such as when they are with a friend who lights a cigarette or in a particular place they associate with smoking.”
Research Study 2009
Another study worth noting is one done on CBD’s effects of addiction. Rats that were placed on a self-serving regimen of heroin were then given an injection of CBD. The rats heroin-seeking behavior was reduced, even two weeks after exposure. More research needs to be done, but one theory on why CBD is effective for reducing addiction is how it regulates the AMPA and cannabinoid receptors in the brain the are associated with addiction mechanisms.
The results of these studies are huge for those looking to quit smoking cigarettes. The director of the Addiction Institute at New York’s Mount Sinai hospital, Professor Yasim Hurd says, “Taken together, these studies suggest that CBD could play a key role in helping people quit smoking.”
Are you or a loved one interested in quitting cigarette smoking? Try starting a regular regimen of CBD! Before your first smoke of the day, try taking some CBD oil to help reduce those cravings. During the day, taking a puff or two off a CBD Vape. These two things combined could really help kick that habit!