All right, friends, now for Part II of my discussion on opioid abuse disorders (OUDs). As this is the second part in a series, I recommend putting this post on hold while you read Part I, if you haven’t already.

Now, here’s a little statistical recap for you:

In 2017, 20.3 million American adults battled substance abuse disorders (SUDs)—a 600,000 person increase from the previous year.[1]
In 2018, an estimated 2 million Americans had an opioid-specific dependence and a total of 47,600 Americans died from opioid overdoses.[2]
In 2017, 91 Americans died each day from opioid overdoses.[3]
In 2018, over 130 people died each day from opioid-related drug overdoses—a significant and unfortunate increase from the previous year.[4]
There have been more than 300,000 opioid-related deaths in the United States in the past decade.[5]

I said it in the last post and I’m going to say it again: What in the actual f*ck is happening in our society? Those are some scary facts, and each year the numbers seem to be rising as more and more people turn to substance use. Things need to change in order to quell the opioid epidemic. While there are undoubtedly larger underlying issues at hand (i.e. the state of mental health in the US), I can only cover one issue at a time, and that issue happens to be inextricably linked to our society’s dangerous ties to Big Pharma. I believe one step to right this wrong is to make available less harmful addiction treatment options—i.e. CBD and kratom. As I've said before, baby steps are still steps.

Big Pharma is a major negative factor in this discussion about kratom’s harm reduction potential. Now don’t get me wrong, pharmaceuticals are necessary in many cases. Prescription drugs like antibiotics, insulin, vaccines, and even some opioids in controlled environments, are necessary and have saved many lives—it's not my intention to discredit their benefits to contemporary societies. But the opioid prescription rate is entirely too high and addiction recovery programs still use opioids (methadone and buprenorphine) to treat OUDs—lots of eye rolling going on over here. These facts are outrageous. Clearly the excessive opioid prescription rate is a contributing factor to the current opioid epidemic, and you’d think recovery programs would be using more nonopioid medications for treating OUDs considering the proven dangerous side effects of using opioids, not to mention their highly addictive properties. But nope, methadone, a dangerous synthetic opioid, is still commonly used to treat OUDs and that’s a really big problem. Let me remind you of methadone’s potential adverse effects: difficulty breathing or shallow breathing; feeling lightheaded or faint; hives or a rash; swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat; chest pain; fast or pounding heartbeat; hallucinations or confusion.[6] Seems like an effective “harm reduction” medication, eh? Well, as demonstrated in Part I, researchers indeed have given us one nonopioid harm reduction option: CBD—a plant with no adverse effects. Now let’s take a look at another potential nonopioid option.

In addition to methadone, buprenorphine is another opioid commonly used to treat opioid addiction. Both synthetic medications “work on the same opioid receptors as heroin and other opioids.”[7] Well, I’ve got news for you—kratom, a botanical substance, also works on the same opioid receptors, but it’s a partial agonist at the mu-opioid receptors (the same receptors on which pharmaceutical opioids work) and acts with a much lower potency than prescription opioids.[8] In other words, it’s not a full opioid agonist like heroin, methadone, buprenorphine, oxycodone, morphine, etc. Kratom is another nonopioid alternative (although many people mistakenly classify it as an opioid) that could potentially help opioid addiction recovery symptoms. In fact, I personally know people who have been successful in their addiction recovery because of kratom. So, what is kratom, you ask? According to the American Kratom Association (AKA): Mitragyna speciose, more commonly known as kratom, comes from “a tropical evergreen tree in the coffee family native to Southeast Asia whose leaves have been used for centuries as an herbal supplement in traditional medicines. Kratom is not a drug. Kratom is not an opiate. Kratom is not a synthetic substance. Naturally occurring Kratom is a safe herbal supplement that behaves as a partial mu-opioid receptor agonist … Kratom contains no opiates, but it does bind to the same receptor sites in the brain. Chocolate, coffee, exercise and even human breast milk hit these receptor sites in a similar fashion.”[9]

Before we get to discussing the potential benefits of kratom, I need to bring to light the controversy surrounding the use of kratom as an herbal medicinal supplement. Chances are, if you do your own research, you’re going to find a lot of negative reports, so let’s clear some things up. There are tons of reports on the dangers of using kratom, especially here in the US as use of the plant has expanded from its native countries. According to a Drug and Alcohol Dependence review of kratom, written by Marc T. Swogger and Zach Walsh, US government and press sources have created a sort of drug hysteria around kratom use due to a lack of scientific data. The CDC claims that kratom may cause psychosis or death, but much of the reported apparent risks of kratom are biased, and again, the claim lacks scientific data.[10] The fact of the matter is, kratom’s apparent risks are understudied and “Case studies present a relatively low level of evidence due to overrepresentation of extreme events, unknown validity and generalizability, and other potential biases” (134). Meaning, there may be some extreme events, and those are the ones being publicized, likely with misrepresented and biased data, which heightens the drug hysteria surrounding kratom’s potential as an alternative medication. Overrepresented extreme events detract from the benefits of the plant, benefits seen in Thailand and Malaysia for centuries. This is not to say cautions are unwarranted, because caution is always necessary when using any kind of substance, whether botanic or synthetic. It’s just to say that more scientific evidence is needed to determine if there are indeed severe risks associated with long-term use of kratom. But the government is essentially trying to prohibit that.

Swogger and Walsh state, “dangers of drug hysterias include the tendency toward the adoption of blunt and reactive strategies that risk inhibiting scientific study and thus deprive the public of useful medicine” (emphasis added, 135). And they’re exactly right. If Southeast Asian countries have reaped the benefits of the plant for centuries, then why wouldn’t the US government conduct more studies to determine its potential benefits instead of overrepresenting and skewing only a very few extreme events? Why indeed are they inhibiting scientific study? Some sites and articles claim kratom is a threat to public health, but if you check out the kratom subreddit,[11] which was created in 2009 and has almost 85,000 members, you’ll see hundreds of thousands of testimonies praising kratom for its ability to help people abstain from drugs and alcohol. In fact, One World Herald (OWH) recently published two separate articles discussing the results of US surveys showing an increase in kratom use by NYC residents to curb habitual alcohol use[12] and withdrawal symptoms from opioids and other drugs.[13] While reddit and online news publications may not be scientific authorities, anecdotal evidence is important and should not be ignored. Scientific studies presenting empirical data are even more important than anecdotal evidence, though, and some have, in fact, been published over the last several years.

Swogger and Walsh’s review of kratom studies has brought to light “The need for evidence-based policy to manage the growing adoption of kratom in North America and Europe [which] makes this a critical time for evaluating risks and benefits” (135). Instead of the press publishing theoretical and biased information, likely as a clickbait tactic—insert another eye roll here—the plant needs to be seriously studied by researchers to determine its use as a potential nonopioid harm reduction tool, to develop evidence-based policy. Especially since “informal use [of kratom] as a supplement has increased in the U.S. over the past decade to an estimated 5 million users,” according to a 2019 study published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs (Smith et al.).[14] The same study states, “there is no reliable information on the extent of its uptake by people with a history of SUD,” which is likely due to the fact that many people are wary of disclosing illicit opioid use to medical professionals (312). Again, take a look at that subreddit and keep in mind the longstanding use of kratom in Southeast Asia, specifically for battling symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Chances are, a very large percent of the reported 5 million kratom users have a history of SUD. Also, Smith et al. discuss the findings of a 2015 study which reported that the main reason for long-term kratom use is to abstain from using a variety of substances, meaning people are using kratom as a harm reduction tool to successfully stay away from more dangerous pharmaceutical and/or illicit opioids and other addictive substances. Smith et al. also highlight some very disturbing statistics about opioid prescribing rates: “In 2012, the annual opioid prescribing rate peaked at 81.3 per 100 persons, and although it has since declined, it remains high with a prescribing rate of 58.5 per 100 persons as of 2017” (emphasis added, 312). This is the exact freaking problem I’ve highlighted several times throughout these posts. I mean, come on. This is a major problem! Yeah, it’s great that the prescribing rate has dropped, and for all I know it may have dropped even more since 2017 (not likely considering the opioid substitutions used in treatment programs), but the damage has been done and the current standing of the opioid epidemic is testament to the dangers of Big Pharma. The government needs to wake up and start taking these potential nonopioid alternatives seriously—public health is more important than money. But, I won't even go there.

In response to an FDA claim that kratom has caused 44 deaths globally, Jane Babin, Ph.D. (molecular biology), Esq., conducted an independent analysis in 2018 for the AKA, which states:

"A review of the available FDA data reveals the overwhelming majority of the cited deaths fails to provide a cohesive or reasonable scientific basis to conclude any of the deaths was caused by kratom, nor does the information released conclusively support any conclusion that kratom was associated to the cited death other than coincidentally. Only one case report released by the FDA suggests that the only substance detected in the decedent’s blood was kratom, but that report provides no substantive detail other than the decedent’s age and ethnicity, and provides no data on any underlying health condition that may have caused the death."[15]

Again, we see evidence of “exaggerated claims, discredited research, and distorted data that fails to meet the evidentiary standard for placing kratom as a Schedule I controlled substance.”[16] Yup, that’s right. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has been trying to classify kratom as a Schedule I substance—the same classification as heroin—based on exaggerated claims and distorted data. And it seems these 44 alleged kratom-related deaths globally is their sole justification. Like, GLOBALLY. Not even restricted to one country or even one continent. And worse, out of those 44 deaths, only one decedent had only kratom in his/her system, so who knows what other drugs the other decedents had in their system. Or, who knows what underlying medical issues the decedents might have had. Talk about exaggerated claims causing drug hysteria, eh? Now, take a look at this adverse events chart:

“This analysis is drawn from the FDA Adverse Events Reporting System (FAERS: Public Dashboard." American Kratom Association.[17]

As previously stated, the 44 kratom-related deaths (“Mytragynine/herbal” per chart) have been regarded as exaggerated claims, but the above chart demonstrates the minuteness of the statistic in comparison to other pharmaceutical pain management therapies. The ibuprofen statistic is surprising and really puts things in perspective—for me, anyway. But I digress. According to the NIDA, “Drug overdose deaths involving prescription opioids rose from 3,442 in 1999 to 17,029 in 2017” (emphasis added).[18] These deaths include that vile opioid substitution: methadone. To be clear, I’m not in any way trying to dismiss death from any drug overdose, because clearly any drug-related death—or untimely death by any means—is tragic. But if the alleged kratom-related deaths were indeed true, 44 deaths globally over a nine-year period is a significantly smaller statistic than the confirmed 17,029 deaths localized to just the US in one year. Can’t argue with the facts.

Despite the myriad negative reports surrounding kratom potential as an alternative medication, you can see there are indeed some substantial empirical data supporting its use in treating addiction. But many factors could further limit research on kratom’s potential for harm reduction, including the US government continuing down the path of a potential prohibition or the DEA continuing its pursuit of classifying kratom as a Schedule I drug. According to the DEA, “Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use,” a classification that makes it is much harder to get approval for research on substances in that schedule.[19] If kratom is placed within Schedule I, research will be further inhibited—if not prohibited—thus depriving the public of potentially useful medicine, just as Swogger and Walsh stated. It would mean the government is ignoring all anecdotal and empirical evidence highlighting kratom's potential medical benefits. Also, Smith et al. sharply point out that “the high rates of non-prescribed buprenorphine use … indicates that some people using heroin or prescription opioids may procure harm-reduction medications illicitly and independently of formal medical channels. In other words, denied access to kratom, people with a history of illicit drug use may still procure prohibited drugs” (emphasis added, 316-7). So basically, prohibiting the sale and use of kratom in the US will likely drive people with a history of SUDs to procure dangerous, illicit drugs, whether illicit opioids or other substances. Tell me, which seems like a safer alternative? Illicit opioid use or kratom use? The latter of which has been a pretty successful option thus far, according to anecdotal evidence. Instead of government agencies continuing this unwarranted witch hunt, it seems more logical to encourage scientific studies and to potentially regulate the quality of kratom for safety purposes. This would provide people battling SUDs more nonopioid medication options for addiction recovery.

Smith et al. make another great point worth noting: “Since short-falls remain in the availability of scientifically-informed OUD interventions in the U.S. … decrease in accessible harm-reduction avenues for people with OUD is concerning” (317). Concerning indeed. This speaks to my early point about outdated treatment programming principles (see Part I: CBD). Kristen E. Smith, the article’s main author is a Ph.D. Fellow at the NIDA. You know, the same government agency I harshly criticized in Part I. Well, she also seems to be criticizing similar government agencies. Not necessarily the NIDA, and certainly not in the same way I am, but she and her colleagues are certainly drawing attention to the potential consequences that will result from government agencies (i.e. DEA, FDA, and CDC) ignoring scientific advancements and prohibiting the availability of nonopioid harm reduction medications, such as kratom. Though she and her colleagues do not mention CBD in their article, the same could be said for CBD as a potential harm reduction avenue. Their study could also help draw much needed attention to the potential dangers of using opioid substitutions in opioid addiction recovery programs.

So, I’ll leave you with this: do your research and don’t believe everything you read. If you’re looking for more authoritative sources, head to your local library and jump on their journal databases. Use keyword searches such as, ((kratom AND addiction)) or ((CBD AND addiction))—you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you find. Also, the American Kratom Association is a great advocacy group and their website has plenty of resources for you to comb through. Check out the Netflix documentary A Leaf of Faith. Listen to some podcasts. Don’t jump on your local news outlet website because you’ll get a lot of biased and skewed reports. Don’t put blind faith in government agencies because, as I’ve demonstrated, their websites and policies advocate full agonist opioids as harm reduction tools for opioid addiction. I know, it sounds really freaking absurd when put like that, but it's the truth.

As always, GV Alternatives is here to help. We’re here to answer any questions you might have on this topic, and if we don’t have an answer for you, rest assured we will find the answer and it will be reliable. Promise.

#kratom #cbd #alternativewellness #nonopioidalternative #substanceusedisorder #opioidusedisorder #opioidepidemic #harmreduction

All right, folks. My posts thus far have been fairly light and breezy. We’ve discussed some pretty exciting topics, from the skincare and pain-relieving benefits of CBD to all the smell-good-products GV Apothecary has in stock. It’s all been very positive because, let’s face it, there are so freaking many positive aspects of CBD. This post (Parts I & II) will be exciting in a way, but I won’t be discussing a light and breezy topic. Right now, I’m here to talk about a very real and very scary public health issue: substance abuse disorders (SUDs). First thing’s first, I am not a medical professional. I am merely an academic with two advanced degrees, neither of which are in any way related to the medical or behavioral health fields. So, I’m not here to give full on medical advice, though I am guilty of self-diagnosing periodically. But I’m not going to do that with you. As an academic, my only job is to present and analyze facts in order to provide an analytical argument. My argument: opioid use needs to stop, and that includes the excessive opioid prescription rate and using opioid substitutions in addiction recovery programs. That starts with considering nonopioid alternatives as harm reduction tools to aid in addiction recovery. CBD is an excellent starting point. But first, let’s take a look at some disturbing statistics. (Don’t let that adjective scare you away. I need you first to understand the gravity of the situation at hand before getting to the more positive stuff.)

We all know someone who has struggled with addiction. Many of us even know people who are currently struggling with addiction. Unfortunately, there likely aren’t many people left in our society today who don’t know someone who has died from substance abuse. It’s a sad fact and a very real problem. Substance abuse is so widespread in today’s society: friend, family member, significant other, maybe even yourself. Addiction does not discriminate. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 20.3 million American adults battled SUDs in 2017—that’s a 600,000 person increase from the prior year.[1] In 2018, an estimated 2 million Americans had an opioid specific addiction, 47,600 Americans died from opioid overdoses, and over 130 people died EVERY DAY from opioid-related drug overdoses.[2] In 2017, only 91 Americans died each day from opioid overdoses.[3] I was hesitant to use “only” as an adverb there, since it suggests a small number, which isn’t at all the case, and I don’t want to seem dismissive of such a critical problem. But I suppose it’s appropriate relative to the significant increase in just one year. And judging by that increase, the problem has gotten significantly worse. To put things into perspective even more, there have been more than 300,000 opioid-related deaths in the United States in the past decade (Hurd et al. 911).[4] That’s a tough pill to swallow—pardon the unintended pun. I mean, really. What in the actual f*ck is happening in our society right now?

Photo: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Anyway, I’m not here only to throw heartbreaking statistics at you. I’m here to give you some more positive information from a recent study that shows how CBD may effectively help people battle symptoms of addiction recovery. I’m going to do this, promise. But first, I want to talk to you about something else that really grinds my gears.

On top of the current opioid crisis, our nation is faced with another dire problem: our ties to Big Pharma. In regard to the issue at hand, I wholeheartedly believe that Big Pharma is partly responsible—but I’m not here to give my opinions, I’m here to give you some facts. Well, one disappointing fact is that prescription medications are used in many addiction treatment programs to “help” people battle SUDs. Like, what?! The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) uses scientific research from as far back as the 1970s to form the basis of “effective” treatment programs, and one of their key principles is administering medications.[5] That principle doesn’t quite jive with me. Like, okay, you’re treating prescription addictions with more prescriptions? So, tell me, NIDA—how do you expect to prevent relapse if you’re providing these poor people with more prescriptions that could potentially breed another addiction? I mean, the NIDA states that the goals of addiction treatment are to stop using drugs and to stay drug free, so I must be missing something. I’m a pretty freaking intelligent person, but this doesn’t make any sense to me. Every year we see more and more scientific advancements, so why is the NIDA using research dating back to the ‘70s to develop “effective” treatment programs? Why isn’t our government focusing on current research studies, studies that show there are effective alternatives to prescription medications for treating addiction recovery symptoms? These are some very good questions, to which I have no answers. But I do have information about one of those current research studies. This is where things start to get more positive.

As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts: CBD (cannabidiol) is derived from the hemp plant. Hemp is in the cannabis plant family, but unlike marijuana, hemp is very low in THC so using hemp-derived CBD products will not produce a high. And CBD can be extracted from the hemp plant to produce a THC-free product called isolate. Great, right? All the medicinal benefits but no psychoactive effects. There are so many conversations happening right now about the benefits of CBD for potential treatment of, well, basically everything from epilepsy and anxiety to inflammation and insomnia. So, it comes as no surprise that doctors and scientists are now investigating CBD’s potential for treating addiction recovery symptoms, specifically concerning opioid addiction. In fact, the American Journal of Psychiatry published a 2019 study discussing just that, titled “Cannabidiol for the Reduction of Cue-Induced Craving and Anxiety in Drug-Abstinent Individuals With Heroin Use Disorder”.[6] The article’s main author, Yasmin L. Hurd, Ph.D., Director of the Addiction Institute at Mt. Sinai, also published an article in 2015 on using CBD to treat addiction. So, this isn’t some rubbish scientists are just now considering. No, this science-based recommendation has been a long time coming and it could help so many people. So, what’s the article say, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you.

Hurd et al. introduce a staggering fact in the article’s objective: despite the opioid epidemic, caused by the widespread availability of heroin and prescription opioids, “limited nonopioid medication options have been developed to treat this medical and public health crisis” (emphasis added, 911). In fact, the most commonly used medications to treat opioid addiction are OTHER OPIOIDS. This is what I’m talking about, people. Again, what in the actual f*ck is happening? Methadone, a synthetic opioid, is one of the predominant medications used to treat opioid addiction. I know, it sounds insane to me, too. Methadone is synthetic. It’s fake, artificial, cooked up by chemists in a lab. CBD is a plant. It’s natural, organic, grown from the same soil from which your vegetables grow. Just saying.

Now, back to my point about methadone. This stuff is bad news. Not only for the fact that it’s an opioid being used to treat opioid addiction—insert eye roll here. But also because of its side effects. The government-run Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) lists its side effects: difficulty breathing or shallow breathing; feeling lightheaded or faint; hives or a rash; swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat; chest pain; fast or pounding heartbeat; hallucinations or confusion”.[7] Doesn’t that make you want to trust this medication to help your loved one overcome their addiction? Unbelievable. And the list follows this disclaimer: “Side effects should be taken seriously, as some of them may indicate an emergency.” WELL, DUH. But, thanks to leading researchers like Dr. Hurd and her colleagues, we’re well on our way to incorporating nonopioid medication options into addiction treatment programs. Now, back to the study.

A treatment gap exists for a large number of people with opioid use disorder (OUD) because of the predominant addiction treatment principle of pushing more opioids. The opioid substitutions are potentially addictive—again, duh—so many people diagnosed with OUD aren’t taking advantage of treatment programs, which “highlights the urgent need to develop novel therapeutic strategies that do not target the mu opioid receptor” (911). According to Hurd, et al., “environmental cues are one of the strongest triggers for craving, which is a core component of opioid use disorder,” creating another treatment obstacle (912). Basically, in order to avoid relapse, to be successful in overcoming addiction, people diagnosed with OUD need to figure out a way to reduce their responses to environmental triggers. Enter CBD. The researchers initially conducted an animal study—I know, poor animals, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles in the field of science—and that study suggests CBD, which does not target the mu-opioid receptor, can potentially help prevent relapse due to environmental cue responses. They also found that in animals, “the reduced heroin-seeking behavior is maintained for weeks following CBD administration” (912). That’s huge! So, to put this preclinical evidence to the test with humans, they conducted a clinical trial at Mount Sinai of 42 participants (men and women) with a history of opioid use, but none were current users. The participants completed four test sessions over a two-week period. The researchers hypothesized that “CBD would reduce cue-induced craving and anxiety in heroin-abstinent individuals with heroin use disorder and have minimal adverse effects” (912). And how right they were.

During cue sessions, researchers “assessed the effects of CBD administered at doses of 400 mg and 800 mg,” and they also used a matching placebo that “was identical in appearance, taste, and composition except for the active ingredient of pure CBD” (912, 913). The researchers used Epidiolex, the first and only FDA-approved prescription CBD medication.[8] It’s listed on the market as treating seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. I'm not advocating its use, especially considering the wide availability of safe, reliable, lab-tested CBD products that can be purchased from local wellness shops, likely at a much lower cost. I’m just pointing out the fact that the government is finally starting to recognize the potential medicinal benefits of CBD. About freaking time. Anyway, cue sessions consisted of both neutral and drug-related cues. For instance, they exposed participants to neutral objects and videos of nature, as well as “heroin-related paraphernalia (e.g., syringe, rubber tie, and packets of powder resembling heroin) for 2 minutes” and a three-minute video of IV or intranasal drug use (913). Each session evaluated the effects of cue-induced cravings and anxiety at different periods of time after CBD or placebo administration. I’m trying not to sound too technical here, so hopefully you’re all still following. I want to give you all the facts as clearly and descriptively as I can. Basically, the researchers were using neutral and drug-related cues to try to measure the intensity of participants’ cravings and anxiety in order to determine whether the CBD administration was effective in reducing those cue-induced responses. Right, now let’s talk findings.

Researchers found that “Across all sessions, individuals receiving placebo reported significantly greater craving after the drug cues … compared with participants in either of the CBD groups … [and] There was no significant difference in craving scores between the groups of participants administered the two CBD doses, indicating that both doses equally reduced craving” (emphasis added, 916). WOW. So, 400 mg and 800 mg doses of CBD equally and significantly reduced craving compared to the placebo group. And anxiety was also significantly decreased in the CBD groups compared to the placebo group. None of the participants in either of the CBD groups experienced elevated heart rates when exposed to the drug-related cues. The placebo group, however, did experience elevated heart rates. Which means, CBD can indeed reduce responses to environmental cues. And since reduction in craving and anxiety-related responses to environmental cues is a major factor in avoiding relapse, then CBD—a nonopioid alternative—could potentially reduce addiction recovery symptoms and increase recovery success. Exciting, right?!

Now, I’m sure many of you are likely thinking CBD was shown to reduce cravings in response to environmental cues, but what about other symptoms of recovery, like withdrawal symptoms? Well, I’d assume detox is the first step in the recovery process. I’m not an expert by any means, but I know some common withdrawal symptoms are headache, insomnia, anxiety, heart palpitations, nausea, and muscle aches. CBD has been known to help all of those things. So, who knows, maybe CBD could indeed aid in that portion of recovery, as well. Also, as the researchers noted, response to environmental cues is one of the most common reasons for relapse. I mean, I can’t even imagine how taxing it must be for people battling addiction to see something that triggers a craving. It takes a very strong-willed person to fight that cue-induced response and not to succumb to the urge. Of course, I don’t know this from experience, but I’d imagine the environmental cues trigger a sort of PTSD response. If CBD can be used in addiction recovery programs to help people fight against those urges and, in turn, help them avoid relapse, then I’d say that’s a pretty freaking HUGE deal, considering the alternatives: more opioids. CNN also published an article discussing this clinical trial, in which Dr. Julie Holland, a New York psychiatrist states, “CBD not only manages the anxiety and cue/craving cycle, it also diminishes the original pain and inflammation that leads to opiate use in the first place.”[9] In other words, many people become addicted to opioid medication simply because they need pain/inflammation relief. And it’s widely known today that CBD reduces pain and inflammation, which can significantly improve quality of life. If more people start using CBD for relief of pain/inflammation, then maybe we can decrease the annual number of first-time opioid users and start the decline from widespread addiction. Baby steps are still steps.

Also, behavioral therapy is an essential component of addiction recovery, and opioid substitutions are typically used in combination with therapy. So, why not keep using the ever-effective behavioral therapy as the most common form of treatment[10] and just replace the opioid medications with CBD? Who knows, exposure therapy similar to what participants experienced in this clinical trial might be an effective therapy option, as well. By the final session, “the drug cue no longer increased heart rate in any group,” including the placebo group (919). This suggests that prolonged exposure—in a safe and controlled setting—to drug-related cues even without CBD can decrease cravings and anxiety in people battling OUDs. Imagine how many people could benefit from this kind of therapy in combination with CBD administration. But I’m not a doctor, so I’ll leave that decision to the pros. Point is, opioid medication options like methadone don’t seem to be necessary. Like, at all. Especially considering “no serious adverse events were noted in association with CBD administration throughout the duration of the trial” (919).

Hurd et al. state, “the potential of CBD to reduce cue-induced craving and anxiety, along with its safe pharmacological profile, low mortality risk, and lack of hedonic properties, indicates that [CBD] holds significant promise for treating individuals with heroin use disorder” (920). Now, do me a favor and compare that analysis of CBD to the side effects of using methadone. Let me remind you: difficulty breathing or shallow breathing; feeling lightheaded or faint; hives or a rash; swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat; chest pain; fast or pounding heartbeat; hallucinations or confusion. The Mayo Clinic also reports the following potential methadone side effects: convulsions, fainting, nausea or vomiting, sweating, trouble sleeping, unusual bleeding or bruising, anxiety, and so many more.[11] The Mount Sinai study showed no adverse reactions to using CBD, and CBD, in fact, has been shown to help anxiety and trouble sleeping, as well as many other ailments. So, doesn’t it just make more sense to choose CBD over methadone at this point? The final sentence in the study really says it all: “A successful nonopioid medication would add significantly to the existing addiction medication toolbox to help reduce the growing death toll, enormous health care costs, and treatment limitations imposed by stringent government regulations amid this persistent opioid epidemic” (920). And no, these researchers don’t seem to be advocating methadone and other opioid substitutions for addiction recovery. Likely that is not what they mean by the existing addiction medication toolbox. It can’t be what they mean because at the beginning of the article they call attention to the need for nonopioid treatment medications. Well, they’ve given us one option, haven’t they?

Please, do your own research before blindly accepting government recommendations for addiction recovery. The rising death toll and current state of the opioid epidemic are testament to the dangers of Big Pharma. If you want unrestricted access to the American Journal of Psychiatry article, “CBD for the Reduction of Cue-Induced Craving and Anxiety in … Heroin Use Disorder,” you can likely access it from your local public library. Schenectady County Public Library, specifically, subscribes to a health journals database: Health Reference Center Academic provided by NOVEL. All you need to do is either go to a library branch and use one of their computers, or you can even access the article from home by clicking on the above link and entering your library card barcode number. Easy-peasy! Also, a news release published by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai—posted on both HealthDay[12] and WebMD[13]—sums up the findings quite nicely, if you’d prefer to read a quick recap instead of the entire research article itself.

If you have any questions on the topic of CBD, please reach out to us or stop into a GV Apothecary store. We’re here to help. Our staff are super knowledgeable, and our readers and customers are our top priority. All of our CBD products are third-party lab tested and come from some of the top hemp farms in the country. In other words, they’re safe and reliable, and they can help. That’s a fact you can trust.

Stay tuned for Nonopioid Alternatives for Addiction Recovery Part II: Kratom.

#cbd #nonopioidalternative #substanceabusedisorder #opioidusedisorder #opioidepidemic #harmreduction #alternativewellness

‘Tis the season to be jolly

Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la

Be grateful you only had to read that—no one wants to hear this girl sing, trust. Though my shower hasn’t kicked me out yet, so I’ve got that going for me.

Anyway! Anyone who knows me knows that Christmastime brings me all the joy and I’m like, literally the jolliest person this time of year, but I am so not immune to the stress that inevitably comes with holiday shopping. Gift giving is inarguably one of the most joyous activities—I mean, how great is it to see your loved ones faces light up when they open your carefully thought out, full-of-love gifts? I know, it brings on all the feels! But, have you ever spent a ridiculous amount of time searching for a parking spot within the same zip code of the mall you’re trying to get into? Fat chance, right? And even worse, have you ever spent hours wandering around overwhelmingly crowded stores hunting for that perfect gift? Ugh, I’m breaking out in hives and breathing into a paper bag just thinking about it—insert soul-deep shudder here. Fear not, my friends! I’m about to share with you the perfect holiday shopping guide that will help you avoid those high-stress mall shopping experiences that threaten to transform you from Cindy Lou Who into Ebenezer Scrooge—no ba humbug-ing allowed here, folks.

Okay now, step away from the cliché Christmas candles and socks. While those are perfectly acceptable gifts—I, myself, enjoy candles and socks just as much as the next person, maybe even more—I’m suggesting something even better for your loved ones this year...give them the gift of wellness! (Or gift yourself some wellness if you prefer. Treat yo self, you deserve it!) Come on into GV Apothecary to stock up on our magical CBD products for those special gifts that will translate to all age groups. I mean it, young, old, and everyone in between. Trust me, you’ll get that twinkle-in-the-eye-I-love-you-so-much-you’re-the-best look that will warm your soul through the New Year! You’re welcome in advance.

All right, all right. By this point you’re all probably begging me to stop my candy cane induced blabbing and get to the good stuff, eh? Well, I aim to please, so let’s get to breakin’ down the goods!

To start, I need to tell you about our holiday gift bundles. These bundles were created through careful consideration to provide customers of all ages with the products that work best together to provide maximum benefits. And to top it off, you’ll be saving up to 25% on each bundle so you won’t have to max out those credit cards that have likely already taken a beating this month. Again, you’re welcome.

Bundle 1

(choose from three different tincture options)

o Eu4ia Pain Stick or Roller AND 500mg Full Spectrum Tincture—$85

o Eu4ia Pain Stick or Roller AND 1000mg Full Spectrum Tincture—$108

o Eu4ia Pain Stick or Roller AND 2000mg Full Spectrum Tincture—$151

Let me tell ya, this bundle packs one heck of a maximum benefits punch! Eu4ia’s Pain Stick is an all-natural lotion bar that contains 200mg of CBD and a proprietary blend of essential oils to ease muscle tension and inflammation. Ylang ylang and lavender oils are both used to alleviate stress and relieve pain, while peppermint oil provides a mild analgesic effect. You all briefly learned about my obsession with essential oils from my last post, so I think you can trust me when I say, these are some of the best oils to enhance the already unbelievable benefits of CBD.

If you suffer from chronic pain (arthritis, fibromyalgia, etc.), you might consider the Pain Relief Roller instead—that’s right, this bundle (and two others) lets you choose one of the two products! The Roller is unreal. It’s easy to apply and provides nearly instant relief from muscle, nerve, bone and joint pain! Okay now, let’s talk oils again. Eucalyptus and peppermint oils provide a mild analgesic effect, providing that fast acting pain relief, and what could be better than that, you ask? WELL LET ME TELL YOU: FRANKINCENSE! The fact that it’s been used in Ayurvedic medicine for hundreds of years speaks to its very real benefits, like reducing joint pain caused by arthritis. Also, remember that biblical story from the Gospel of Matthew about the Three Wise men who presented gifts to the baby Jesus on the night of his birth? Well, one of those gifts was frankincense. So, maybe I’m reaching here, but this Roller is really in keeping with Christmas tradition. Don’t even try to tell me otherwise. Not sure about you, but I’ll be applying my Roller on Christmas day and giving Jesus a happy birthday shout out. Y’all with me?

Bundle 2

(choose from three different tincture options)

o Eu4ia Pain Rub or Pain Lotion AND 500mg FS Tincture—$66

o Eu4ia Pain Rub or Pain Lotion AND 1000mg FS Tincture—$88

o Eu4ia Pain Rub or Pain Lotion AND 2000mg FS Tincture—$122

This bundle is similar to the first, in that it’s also a pain relief inspired bundle, but we wanted to offer our customers a bundle with a slightly lower price point. This bundle is less expensive than the first because the Pain Rub and Lotion have a lower concentration of CBD (100mg/bottle), so these products are ideal for people with minor aches and pains. For example, the Rub is my jam when I’m suffering from post-workout muscle aches. I’m a big ole baby when it comes to muscle aches and tension, so the Rub is an actual life saver. I mean it. It literally saves me from being murdered by friends and family who are sick and tired of hearing me complain about how sore I am. Hi, my name is Jessica and I’m a hypochondriac and merciless complainer. But I digress.

Both the Lotion and Rub contain the same essential oils: black pepper to provide deep warmth, peppermint to provide a cooling effect, and lavender to help relax your muscles, all working together with CBD’s powerful anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. Think of these products as the more effective, better smelling cousins of IcyHot. What makes these two products different, you ask? Well, the Rub is oil-based, making its consistency similar to Vicks VapoRub. Being that it sits on top of your skin and doesn’t soak in immediately, the effects tend to last a bit longer than the Lotion, which is water-based. The Lotion soaks into your skin just as quickly as any other lotion, so it’s perfect for daily use at work or when you’re on the go and would prefer not to walk around with slightly greasy skin.

NOTE: The lower concentration of CBD in the Rub and Pain Lotion (100mg) in comparison to the higher concentration in the Pain Stick (200mg) and Roller (300mg) should not deter people suffering from chronic pain. In fact, many of our customers (including my own momma!) use the Pain Rub/Lotion specifically for arthritis. Our staff here at GV Apothecary would recommend the stronger products for more intense pain, as the higher concentrations will provide greater relief and likely won’t need to be reapplied as frequently as the Rub/Lotion. Whichever you choose, though, you will not be disappointed, promise!