Nicotine addiction is a widespread problem affecting millions of people worldwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as 40 million adults in the United States smoke cigarettes. Each year, the U.S. also spends more than $225 billion on healthcare to address smoking-related diseases. In 2020, the National Institute on Drug Abuse revealed that among people as young as 12, about 8.5% (or 23.6 million individuals) had nicotine dependence.
Despite the health-endangering risks of smoking, evidently, many find it challenging to break free from their addiction. From applying nicotine patches to seeking counseling, numerous methods encourage smoking cessation, and researchers are always looking for new and effective approaches. In particular, cannabidiol (CBD) may be another promising solution for nicotine addiction.
In this discussion, Urbal Activ will (1) highlight the studies exploring how cannabidiol may help curb nicotine addiction and (2) answer the question, "Can CBD help you quit smoking?" Let's begin.
The Science Behind Using CBD to Quit Smoking
Cannabidiol or CBD is an active ingredient derived from the hemp plant. It does not cause a high and is non-addictive. CBD interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is responsible for regulating several physiological functions, including pain, mood, appetite, and sleep.
CBD may have the potential to modulate brain regions involved in reward or salience processing – a key player in addiction. Tobacco activates the same "reward system," increasing dopamine levels in the brain and creating pleasurable sensations that reinforce smoking habits.
Below are the studies delving deeper into the link between CBD and nicotine addiction.
1. CBD May Reduce the Urge to Smoke
A preliminary study published in 2013 determined the effects of ad-hoc CBD use on individuals who longed to quit smoking. Morgan and his co-authors gave 24 smokers an inhaler containing either cannabidiol or a placebo. For one week, the participants used the inhaler whenever they felt the urge to smoke.
The study found that smokers treated with CBD significantly reduced the number of cigarettes smoked by 40% during treatment. Results also showed some maintenance of this effect during a follow-up session. These preliminary conclusions, along with the preclinical rationale for using cannabidiol, suggest that CBD may be effective against nicotine addiction.
In 2018, another study found similar results. Hindocha et al. examined the effects of overnight nicotine abstinence among dependent cigarette smokers. They investigated whether 800 milligrams of oral CBD, compared to a placebo, would affect the smokers' attentional bias (AB), pleasantness of cigarette-related stimuli, cravings, and withdrawals.
The researchers observed that, within 24 hours, CBD decreased the salience and pleasantness of cigarette-related cues. However, due to time constraints, the overnight experiment did not find changes in tobacco cravings and withdrawals.
These studies indicate that CBD has the potential to alleviate smoking urges among those who want to quit. Additional investigations are necessary to validate these conclusions, although the preliminary outcomes are hopeful.
2. CBD May Reduce the Triggers for Smoking
In 2020, Perski et al. found that 43.2% of 1,135 adult smokers use tobacco products to relieve stress. Data from the CDC also shows that 45.3% of adults with severe anxiety, 34.2% with moderate anxiety, and 30.4% with mild anxiety smoke cigarettes.
Nicotine is a stimulant that creates an instant sense of calm and relaxation, which is why people presume it lessens their stress and anxiety levels. Unfortunately, these effects are fleeting and quickly replaced by withdrawal indications and a surge in nicotine cravings.
In a previous article, we talked about how CBD can help with stress and anxiety. Because these feelings trigger smoking in many adults, the appropriate CBD dosage may help address nicotine addiction by relieving stress and anxiety.
Anxiety, fear, and depression are physiological aspects of the stress response. Two clinical trials demonstrated that CBD for stress alleviation was non-inferior to pharmaceutical drugs. The trial results are backed by the common use of CBD by more than 10% of the population – of which ⅓ to ⅔ use CBD for stress relief – and an astounding 90% reported its efficacy.
Therefore, while further research is necessary to strengthen these findings, CBD may be a viable solution for mitigating stress-induced smoking triggers.
3. CBD May Help Manage Nicotine Withdrawals
If you or someone close to you has been smoking for years, you would know how difficult it is to quit. In fact, although 30% to 50% of American smokers attempt to quit in any given year, only 7.5% succeed. The collection of mental, emotional, and physical symptoms associated with nicotine withdrawal contributes to this low success rate.
Research suggests that CBD may ease nicotine withdrawal symptoms. However, keep in mind that scientists conducted most of these preclinical trials on animals.
In particular, a 2021 study supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and other leading organizations provided preclinical evidence of the therapeutic effectiveness of CBD on nicotine withdrawal syndrome. The researchers reported a reduction in somatic symptoms (shortness of breath, weakness, or pain) and hyperalgesia (increased sensitivity to pain) in nicotine-dependent rats.
4. CBD May Stop Nicotine Cravings
In 2023, a breakthrough discovery on the link between CBD and nicotine addiction emerged. The study, published in the Chemical Research in Toxicology journal, revealed that low doses of CBD significantly inhibited CYP2A6 – an enzyme associated with metabolizing nicotine in the human body, which could prevent cravings.
The acclaimed researchers intend to conduct a larger study on CBD and nicotine addiction, but the initial results show great promise.
How to Use CBD to Quit Smoking
Using CBD to curb nicotine addiction is a topic of ongoing research, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. However, here are some guidelines that may be helpful:
- Consult a healthcare professional: Before using CBD to quit smoking, it's important to speak with a medical professional who can provide guidance on dosages and potential interactions with other medications.
- Choose the right delivery method: As CBD products come in various forms, there are different ways to use them, too. For instance, you can take our CBD Water Soluble Drops sublingually, which allows you to regulate your dosage effectively.
- Determine the right dosage for you: CBD dosages can vary depending on the individual, their needs, and the delivery method used. With water soluble drops, we recommend starting with a low dosage and monitoring your response before gradually increasing it to find the level that works for you.
- Track your progress: Keep a close eye on how CBD affects your efforts to quit smoking. If you still crave nicotine or experience withdrawals, speak with your healthcare provider about adjusting your dosage.
- Add CBD to a more comprehensive treatment plan: Although CBD may help reduce nicotine cravings, it's crucial to include other intervention techniques into your treatment plan. For example, seeking professional counseling and joining support groups can help you learn how to control your smoking urges.
Quitting smoking is a challenging process that requires utmost patience and dedication. It's important to work with a medical professional and use a comprehensive approach to improve your chances of success.