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Opiates are an extremely dangerous category of drugs, with 130 people in the United States losing their lives to opioid overdose every single day according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). [1]

This represents a 30 percent increase in opioid-related overdose deaths in 45 states in just over a year’s time, with a 54 percent increase in 16 of them. Sadly, Midwest states have fared the worst, with a 70 percent increase in the same amount of time.

It is statistics such as these that have caused some to say that we’re in the middle of an ‘opioid crisis’ or ‘opioid epidemic.’ And part of what makes opiates so problematic for many Americans is that they come with a high risk of abuse and addiction, two factors that can easily lead to drug overdose.

Understanding Opioid Abuse and Addiction

In some cases, these drugs are prescribed for pain management purposes for people struggling with acute injuries or chronic pain conditions, offering them a certain level of pain relief. Other times, codeine, morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and other opioid medications are given to patients in an effort to control post-surgical pain.

However, the NIDA reports that as many as 29 percent of those who are prescribed opiates for pain-based conditions don’t take them as directed, with approximately one in ten users (somewhere between 8 and 12 percent) ultimately developing an opioid use disorder.

What is particularly distressing is that sometimes this prescription drug misuse leads to the use of another type of even more dangerous, not to mention illegal, opiate: heroin. Case in point: four out of five heroin users (80 percent) admit to previously misusing prescription opioids.

The Mayo Clinic adds that certain people tend to be at a greater risk of engaging in opiate abuse or developing an opiate addiction than others. This includes those with a personal or family history of substance abuse, those who have previously been involved in addiction treatment for drugs or alcohol, and those who have struggled with severe bouts of anxiety or depression. [2]

Traditional Opioid Addiction Treatments

Traditionally, treatment of opioid addiction and/or misuse has involved the use of prescription medications to ease opiate withdrawal symptoms and cravings, as well as attending counseling or behavioral therapy designed to change the addict’s attitudes and behaviors surrounding opioid use. [3]

Other treatments, such as Narcotics Anonymous, require patients to participate in peer support Some also mandate that patients undergo testing for hepatitis or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)—two viral infections that tend to be higher in those with drug abuse [4]—while also offering the recovering addict assistance with housing, transportation, and employment.

While all of these can be effective remedies for those who are addicted to either prescription painkillers or heroin, research is also finding that CBD may help as well.

CBD: What It Is and How It Works

CBD stands for cannabidiol, which is a chemical compound found within the cannabis plant that has been linked to numerous health benefits. These benefits include chronic pain relief, reduced anxiety and depression, and protection against neurological disorders. CBD has also been found helpful when treating major medical conditions like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. [5]

This isn’t a new remedy either as cannabis use for medicinal purposes dates all the way back to 2727 B.C. according to the Drug Enforcement & Administration, with an estimated 3.5 million people legally using medical cannabis (also known as medical marijuana) today. [6] [7]

CBD works by stimulating cannabinoid receptors within the body’s endocannabinoid system. This system’s ultimate goal is to maintain homeostasis in the body and plays an important role in the development of the central nervous system, which also means that it impacts mood, memory, appetite, stress, sleep, metabolism, and more. [8]

CBD and Opiate Research

According to research, CBD’s interaction with the endocannabinoid system may be beneficial in helping those with some level of opioid dependence.

For example, a May 2019 study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry involved individuals who had previously abstained from heroin use, but still struggled with two common symptoms of opioid withdrawal: anxiety and cravings. [9]

Each participant was given either 400 or 800 mg of CBD once a day for three days. Data was then collected at variable intervals—1 hour, 2 hours, 24 hours, and 3 days after the treatment, as well as 7 days after CBD administration ceased—to determine what effect, if any, it had on anxiety and cravings at these times.

After analyzing the data, researchers found that the immediate effects were significant compared to the placebo, with participants experiencing lower rates of anxiety and reduced cravings 1 hour, 2 hours, and 24 hours after the first dose was given. These positivie impacts were still noted seven days post-treatment, with no adverse side effects.

This suggests that CBD products have an additional medical use, which is a more successful recovery from opiate withdrawal. At a minimum, this cannabis compound can potentially help recovering addicts by improving their quality of life during their sobriety, simply by reducing these symptoms.

Spruce Lab Grade CBD Oil

Which Type of CBD Products is Best?

Like many other supplements, CBD products come in many different forms. This includes capsules, tinctures, edibles, medical marijuana, and more. That said, one of the most effective cannabidiol products available is CBD oil. Specifically, lab grade, full spectrum CBD oil.

Lab grade means that the product has been tested by a certified lab, ensuring that it meets basic purity and potency standards, whereas full spectrum indicates that the product contains health-promoting compounds from the entire cannabis plant—which includes other cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds—as opposed to offering users only CBD. [10] This second type is commonly referred to as a CBD isolate.

If you’re new to using CBD, it’s best to start with a low dose of lab grade, full spectrum CBD oil. This enables you to see what effect this product has on your opiate withdrawal symptoms without risking adverse effects. Then, only increase that dose if necessary, until you achieve a therapeutic effect.


[1] “Opioid Overdose Crisis.” National Institute on Drug Abuse. Revised Jan 2019.
  [2] “How to Use Opioids Safely.” Mayo Clinic. Accessed May 23, 2019.
  [3] “Opioid Abuse and Addiction Treatment.” MedlinePlus: U.S. National Library of Medicine. Accessed May 23, 2019.
  [4] “What’s the Relationship Between Drug Use and Viral Infections?” National Institute on Drug Abuse. Revised May 2019.
  [5] Kubala, J. “7 Benefits and Uses of CBD Oil (Plus Side Effects).” Healthline. Feb 26, 2018.
  [6] “Cannabis, Coca, & Poppy: Nature’s Addictive Plants.” Drug Enforcement Administration Museum & Visitors Center. Accessed May 23, 2019.
  [7] “Number of Legal Medical Marijuana Patients.” May 18, 2018.
  [8] “Human Endocannabinoid System.” UCLA Health. Accessed May 23, 2019.
  [9] Hurd, Y. et al. “Cannabidiol for the Reduction of Cue-Induced Craving and Anxiety in Drug-Abstinent Individuals with Heroin Use Disorder: A Double-Blind Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial.” The American Journal of Psychiatry. May 21, 2019. Doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2019.18101191.
  [10] Goedeke, R. “Full Spectrum CBD VS CBD Isolate: Which CBD Should I Take?” Ministry of Hemp. Nov 29, 2018.