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Can CBD Help You Quit Smoking?

Posted by Lewis Olden on
Can CBD Help You Quit Smoking?

The negative connotations associated with smoking are now almost universally known. Smoking can damage your long-term health in a variety of ways. The prevalence of smokers within the UK has dramatically fallen in recent years resulting in less than 15% of people in England classing themselves as a smoker.

No matter the known dangers of smoking, giving up smoking and nicotine if you are a smoker of many years can be incredibly difficult. Nicotine is estimated to be as addictive as substances like Heroin & Cocaine. Overcoming the desire to smoke can be extremely difficult.

Smoking is responsible for 90% of all Lung Cancer deaths and it has several other side effects that have a negative effect on a user’s life. These include, but are not limited to:

  • The premature ageing of the skin
  • Heart Disease
  • Damaging Oral Health
  • Weakening of the immune system
  • Cancers
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Intense cravings
  • Anxiety

How could CBD help people quit smoking?

A study in 2013 found that the preliminary findings of CBD reducing the cigarette consumption of tobacco smokers was positive. The study was carried by University College London and researchers used a double-blind placebo-controlled methodology to assess whether CBD could be an effective treatment for nicotine addiction. Of the 24 smokers that took part in the study, 12 were given a CBD inhaler and the other half were given a placebo. Patients were advised that when they felt the urge to smoke, they should instead use the inhaler. The amount of times each group smoked over a weeklong period was measured.

The amount the members of the placebo group smoked was no different and there was no change in how many times they felt the urge to smoke. However, in the CBD group, the number of cigarettes smoked decreased by 40%.

While these findings appear to be positive, two vital factors need to be taken into consideration. The first of which is that the study only took place over a weeklong period and the withdrawal effects of nicotine can take up to a month to fade. The typical side-effects of nicotine are cravings, depression, irritability and anxiety. The sample size of the study was very limited, there are over 1 billion people who smoke around the world so much larger studies are needed. 

Another study carried out by University College London in 2018 sought to break the behaviours of the participants and the attentional bias exhibited by cigarette smokers. Attentional bias is when actions are lined together after experiencing a series of cues which the body learns to recognise over an extended time period. For example, many smokers have their first smoke with their morning tea or coffee. The brain gradually associates the two actions, meaning every time a smoker has a tea or coffee, they crave a cigarette.

Participants were given an 800mg oral dose of CBD or a placebo before being shown photo cues to encourage them to smoke. The CBD control group experienced a reduction in the pleasantness of the cigarette cues. While the placebo group’s experience remained the same. The results of this study suggest CBD targets the neurocognitive processes associated with nicotine.

False perceptions of anxiety alleviation amongst smokers 

A significant portion of smokers initially turn to smoking in an effort to help ease their anxiety or to calm their nerves. Studies imply that the nicotine within cigarettes exacerbate anxiety and in fact can have a negative impact on the smoker’s mood. 

Giving up smoking is not an easy thing to do. It is extremely difficult from a physical perspective, but it also comes with an array of emotional issues too. Giving up smoking can be a frustrating task and many smokers eventually cave into their desires. 

CBD and Addiction 

Cannabinoid’s perceived anti-anxiety effects is a key component in CBD prospectively being a treatment for nicotine addiction. Despite the need for much larger scale research, there is promise that CBD could be a useful aid for those trying to give up smoking. The World Health Organisation claims that “tobacco kills up to half its users”. Statements like this are terrifying and illustrate the need for effective nicotine treatments.

The cycle of addiction can impact a smoker in numerous different ways. Smokers are particularly susceptible to triggers in the environment and at times it can feel like everything reminds them of cigarettes and smoking. The human brain has a natural desire to constantly create links between actions. The first coffee or meal when trying to give up smoking can instigate the brain into connecting the action to smoking. 

Giving up cigarettes can take an enormous amount of effort and self-control, continuing to stay away from smoking can be equally as challenging. While there’s yet to be studies on CBD oil’s effect on nicotine addiction specifically, ongoing research is producing promising results as far as using cannabidiol to stave off relapses. A 2018 study on rodents addicted to alcohol found that “CBD attenuated context-induced and stress-induced drug seeking without tolerance, sedative effects, or interference with normal motivated behaviour.” With these results in mind, CBD oil may help you manage the urge to reach for a cigarette in especially triggering or stressful situations.

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