Decades of misinformation and propaganda against cannabis has given it a reputation of a “drug of abuse.” In fact, cannabis compounds like CBD and THC can help individuals overcome addiction and ease their withdrawal symptoms.
Some scientific publications have even proposed that medical professionals should start using the term “exit drug” with regard to cannabis and addiction (1).
Evidence from studies shows that pharmaceuticals having an affinity with CB2 receptors may be used in treating opiate and cocaine addiction (2). Some observational studies have also found a link between cannabis use and decreased alcohol or nicotine use (3).
More people decide to ditch nicotine gums and patches in favor of taking CBD oil throughout the cessation period. They are turning to CBD because this cannabinoid has remarkable relaxing and anti-anxiety properties while being non-intoxicating and safe for consumption.
But can CBD really replace tobacco? Should you mix CBD with nicotine to slowly get off the latter?
Read on to find out!
Nicotine 101: What You Need to Know About the Active Ingredient in Tobacco
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco smoke contains high levels of nicotine and at least 69 cancerous agents (4).
Using tobacco makes for the leading preventable cause of death globally, harvesting around 6 million lives each year and causing large economic losses of more than half a trillion dollars (5).
The Global Tobacco Surveillance System, which gathers information from 22 countries that represent almost 60% of the global population, there are 1,300 million tobacco smokers in those countries. 205 million of those individuals had tried to kick their habit in the past 12 months (6).
Only 4–7 people can go cold turkey without medicines or counseling, while 25% of nicotine tries to manage their withdrawal symptoms with over-the-counter medication (7).
How Strong Is Nicotine Addiction?
80% of people who have been addicted to specific substances recover from their addiction during their lives (8).
Tobacco has the lowest cessation rates, which is quite surprising considering the above statistics.
Does nicotine really get you hooked on it that much? Or does it reach beyond the physical aspect of addiction?
Despite being associated with a brain disorder caused by a pharmacological substance, nicotine addiction is strengthened by the habit that makes it easier to fall into addictive behaviors.
When people get that habit in place, they focus on the behaviors leading to consuming the substance rather than the substance per se.
In other words, the fact that you regularly hold a cigarette in your hand, or the habit of inhaling smoke or vapor, can be more powerful than the actual addiction to nicotine.
Scientists have found it difficult to train animal models to get addicted to nicotine. And more interestingly, the success rates of people who use pharmacological means to overcome nicotine addiction (gums, patches, and pills) are disturbingly low.
Can You Use CBD Instead of Nicotine?
CBD modulates the human endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is our body’s largest regulatory network.
The ECS maintains a balance between all critical processes within the body. It controls the memory, mood, sex drive, fertility, appetite, body temperature, sleep cycles, immune function, cognitive performance, pain signaling, and more.
It also plays an important role in addictive behaviors.
The exact relationship between CBD and the endocannabinoid system is yet to be fully revealed, but according to recent research on the role of CBD in treating addiction, “CBD has been associated with many neural circuits involved in the acquisition of addiction and subsequent drug-seeking behaviors, making it an interesting pharmacological candidate to treat substance-use disorders.” (9)
Let’s dig deeper into the studies investigating this mechanism.
Studies on CBD and Nicotine
Only one study has tested the role of CBD in overcoming nicotine addiction.
According to a pilot clinical study that investigated the efficacy of CBD in comparison to a placebo in the treatment of tobacco addiction, CBD can effectively curb nicotine cravings and reduce anxiety associated with substance withdrawals.
It was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study with 24 participants who smoked more than 10 cigarettes on a daily basis.
12 participants received an inhaler with CBD, and the other group got an inhaler infused with a placebo. The treatment lasted for seven days; during this period, the research team recorded participants’ cravings for nicotine and their anxiety levels each day.
Then they conducted a follow-up interview 21 days after the treatment. They found that cigarette consumption in the CBD group was down by 40%. These numbers contrasted with the placebo group, although both groups reported the same decrease in anxiety and cravings over the treatment’s duration.
After 21 days, the participants returned to the initial state. The authors of the study indicated the need for more research with longer follow-up to assess the conclusions of this pilot research (10).
How Could CBD Help with Nicotine Addiction?
As we said, we haven’t yet fully understood the “why” behind the effects of CBD on addictive behaviors. However, the authors of the said study came up with a few explanations, based on how CBD engages with the ECS.
One theory includes the action of CBD on the CB1 cannabinoid receptor. As a weak reverse agonist, CBD is able to inhibit the enzyme that breaks down anandamide (FAAH), a cannabinoid produced by the body that regulates the mood, sensations of pain and pleasure, and addiction.
By doing so, CBD may dampen the stimulating properties of nicotine, bringing relief from psychological symptoms of the addiction, such as anxiety, irritation, and poor stress management.
Are CBD Vapes a Good Alternative to Smoking Tobacco?
As people become more aware of the health risks of smoking, they decide to switch their means of consumption to vaporization.
Vaporization is a process in which the substance is gently heated to specific temperatures where it starts to release vapor. This vapor contains concentrated amounts of the active ingredient, delivering it straight to your lungs.
Vaping is considered safer than smoking because it doesn’t involve combustion.
Indeed, the health risks of smoking derive from the combustion of the ignited material, rather than from the product itself.
Unfortunately, switching from smoking tobacco to vaping only changes the consumption method. Keep in mind that you will still inhale the same addictive substance.
Many tobacco smokers have found relief in CBD vapes, touting this product as an effective solution to their addiction. Some researchers have suggested that vaporizers can reduce tobacco and cannabis co-administration, leading to lower tobacco dependence and dangers linked to its abuse.
If vaping CBD becomes more popular in the future, the next generations might never be exposed to tobacco smoke or nicotine E-cigs in the first place.
What’s the Difference Between CBD Oil, Vape Oil, and Juice?
The terms “CBD oil” and “CBD vape oil” (or vape juice) are often used interchangeably, although only two of them refer to the same product.
CBD vape oil and CBD vape juice are both the same. You can also come across names like CBD e-liquid.
The above terms are used to describe CBD oil that has been thinned down with substances like vegetable glycerine or propylene glycol (or a mix of both). In this form, CBD vape oil can fuel a cartridge and be attached to the battery of a vape pen — a special device designed for vaping CBD liquid.
The CBD oil that you see in glass bottles with droppers isn’t appropriate for vaping. It is too concentrated (and thick) to be consumed in a vape pen. Doing so can destroy your vape pen.
Can You Use CBD and Nicotine Together?
Studies analyzing the potential adverse effects and drug-drug interactions with CBD use showed that interactions between CBD and nicotine might result in weight loss, reduced appetite, and sleep problems.
Sleeping disturbances may also derive from mood swings and elevated anxiety, which should also be managed with professional counseling and behavioral therapies on top of CBD and other treatments.
Long story short, we suggest that you don’t mix CBD and nicotine.
Key Takeaways on Interactions Between CBD, Nicotine, and Other Stimulants
- According to Smokefree.gov, a government-run website, people smoke tobacco to manage stress or cope with other unpleasant sensations. Unfortunately, nicotine, carbon monoxide, and tar are also released when you light up a cigarette (11).
- Meanwhile, CBD can effectively reduce anxiety, helping users manage stress and regulate emotions without intoxication associated with smoking marijuana, as long as you take hemp-derived CBD (12).
- Although we don’t have specific data on CBD-nicotine interactions, one study found that CBD taken with stimulants can cause weight loss, sleep disorders, and reduced appetite (13).
- A 2013 study published in the Addictive Behaviors journal found that CBD may be a promising treatment for tobacco addiction (14).
- If you want to incorporate CBD oil into your daily routine, it’s best to consult a doctor expert on CBD and cannabis, in general, to establish the right dosage and avoid potential drug interactions.
Connecting the Dots: Can You Use CBD to Treat Nicotine Addiction?
Nicotine addiction is a serious problem, and giving up cigarettes may sound like a challenge. However, it is one of the best things you can do for your health if this habit has been accompanying you for years.
As reported by the University of California, San Francisco, 70% of smokers want to quit their addiction. However, many of them postpone it until they develop a serious tobacco-related disease, such as heart disease, stroke, or cancer.
Fortunately, the habit of smoking, as well as the very addiction to nicotine, are treatable. Don’t become disheartened if you don’t succeed in your first attempt. Those who receive proper medication and counseling during cessation are more likely to overcome their addiction than those who only claim to be “strong-willed.”
CBD exerts several actions on the brain that can help those addicted to nicotine. Cannabidiol can reduce tobacco cravings and ease the most common withdrawal symptoms of going cold turkey, such as irritation, anxiety, sleep disorders, and weight gain.
Although no study has yet recommended CBD as a nicotine replacement, current findings suggest that it can help manage a person’s addiction and live a tobacco-free life using complementary therapies.
Have you tried CBD for nicotine addiction? Does it work for you?? Let us know in the comments!
- Wiese, Beth, and Adrianne R Wilson-Poe. “Emerging Evidence for Cannabis’ Role in Opioid Use Disorder.” Cannabis and cannabinoid research, vol. 3,1 179-189. 1 Sep. 2018, doi:10.1089/can.2018.0022
- Morales, Marisela, and Antonello Bonci. “Getting to the core of addiction: Hooking CB2 receptor into drug abuse?.” Nature medicine, vol. 18,4 504-5. 5 Apr. 2012, doi:10.1038/nm.2722
- Reiman A 2009. Cannabis as a substitute for alcohol and other drugs. Harm Reduction Journal. 6:35. doi: 10.1186/1477-7517-6-35
- The World Health Organization. “A guide for tobacco users to quit.” (2014). Available at: https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/112833/9789241506939_eng.pdf;jsessionid=C620EAFB64304F2C98A6FF8058A88A59?sequence=1
- WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2013.
- Global Adult Tobacco Survey (The GATS Atlas) – section_read
- American Cancer Society. “How to Quit Smoking or Smoke Less Tobacco?” Available at: https://www.cancer.org/healthy/stay-away-from-tobacco/guide-quitting-smoking.html
- Lopez-Quintero, C., Hasin, D. S., de los Cobos, J. P., Pines, A., Wang, S., Grant, B. F., Blanco, C. 2011. Probability and predictors of remission from life-time nicotine, alcohol, cannabis, or cocaine dependence: Results from the national epidemiologic survey on alcohol and related conditions. Addiction, 106(3), 657-669; doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2010.03194.x;
- Prud’homme M, Cata R, Jutras-Aswad D. 2015. Cannabidiol as an intervention for addictive behaviors: A Systematic Review of the evidence. Subst Abuse. 9:33-8. doi: 10.4137/SART.S25081.
- Morgan, Celia J A et al. “Cannabidiol reduces cigarette consumption in tobacco smokers: preliminary findings.” Addictive behaviors, vol. 38,9 (2013): 2433-6. doi:10.1016/j.addbeh.2013.03.011
- Smokefree.gov. Stress and Smoking. Retrieved from https://smokefree.gov/challenges-when-quitting/stress/stress-smoking.
- Julien, R., Advokat, C., & Comaty, J. (eds.). (2011). A primer of drug action (12th ed.). New York: Worth Publishing.
- Crippa et al. Neural basis of anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in generalized social anxiety disorder: a preliminary report. J Psychopharmacol. 2011 Jan;25(1):121-30. doi: 10.1177/0269881110379283. Epub 2010 Sep 9. DOI: 10.1177/0269881110379283; Pellati F, Borgonetti V, Brighenti V, Biagi M, Benvenuti S, Corsi L. Cannabis sativa L. and Nonpsychoactive Cannabinoids: Their Chemistry and Role against Oxidative Stress, Inflammation, and Cancer. Biomed Res Int. 2018;2018:1691428. Published 2018 Dec 4. doi:10.1155/2018/1691428.
- Brown JD, Winterstein AG. Potential Adverse Drug Events and Drug-Drug Interactions with Medical and Consumer Cannabidiol (CBD) Use. J Clin Med. 2019;8(7):989. Published 2019 Jul 8. doi:10.3390/jcm8070989.