One of these reasons may be the extent to which conventional wisdom in our society ascribes tobacco addiction to the pharmacological effects of nicotine. If attributing addiction to the substance used is a problem for understanding drug addiction in general, in the case of tobacco addiction it becomes especially paradigmatic. The problem with drug addiction in general, and tobacco addiction in particular, is, as we have explained, the problem tends to be attributed to a disorder of the brain caused by a pharmacological agent, when at the base of all addictive behaviour, what is actually introduced is a habit. And this habit is established, not so much by the effects of the substance itself, as by the behaviours involved in seeking and consuming the substance. And it is these habits, as forms of conduct, that are difficult to correct. Indeed, in the specific case of nicotine it is very difficult to train animal models to be addicted to the substance. And as we have seen, the rates of tobacco cessation by pharmacological means (including patches, gum and any other nicotine-based pharmaceutical preparation) are distressingly low 12 . Therefore, of all the reasons for which tobacco proves addictive for so many people, the fact that it contains nicotine is probably the least significant. It is precisely the fact that it is a habit, which is generally established over a long time –in most cases over several years– that makes it so difficult to correct. As humans, we establish our everyday behaviour by means of habits and the more ingrained a habit is, the more difficult it is to change. This is all the more true, insofar as the habit –as in the case of tobacco– offers such versatility for that the individual can indulge it when engaged in an animated conversation, in a state of depression or when waiting for a bus – in short, in nearly every aspect of his or her life, except sleep. This versatility and generalisation make the habit of smoking so especially difficult to correct.
As cannabis users increasingly become aware of the health dangers of smoking, some of them are trying to replace the smoking of cannabis (which involves combustion) with vaping (which does not). Indeed, it is well known that the risks of smoking derive precisely from the combustion of the material smoked, rather than the products smoked. Even so, surveys on preferred methods of consumption indicate that the immense majority (more than 90%) of cannabis users still prefer smoking, even though they recognise that vaping is the most effective way of reducing the harm 13 . Even in states like California, whose citizens are famous for their worship of healthy lifestyles, the preferred means of consuming cannabis in medicinal marijuana dispensaries is by smoking (86.1% of those interviewed), far ahead of vaping (used by 21.8%) 14 . These results may be somewhat skewed by the fact that so many of those surveyed started out as tobacco consumers who when they subsequently began to use cannabis, also preferred to smoke it. It is also well-known that many consumers manage to give up smoking not only “joints” but also tobacco when they start vaping cannabis. In a recent letter to the journal Addiction, Hindocha et al. set out a series of examples in which vaping cannabis is accompanied by a reduction in tobacco consumption. According to these researchers: “ there could be reason to be optimistic about the potential of vaporizers. If vaporizers can reduce cannabis and tobacco co-administration, the outcome could be a reduction of tobacco use/dependence among cannabis users and a resultant reduction in harms associated with cannabis. Indeed, if vaping cannabis becomes commonplace in the future, the next generation of cannabis users might never be exposed to nicotine or tobacco in the first place” 15 .
José Carlos Bouso is a clinical psychologist and a doctor of pharmacology. His areas of interest are psychopharmacology and the therapeutic properties of entactogens, psychedelics and cannabis. He has conducted therapeutic research with MDMA, pharmacological research with several substances of plant and synthetic origin and has also performed studies on the long-term neuropsychological effects of substances such as cannabis, ayahuasca and cocaine. He is author of the book “Qué son las drogas de síntesis” [What are synthetic drugs?], and co-author of “¿La marihuana como medicamento? Los usos médicos y terapéuticos del cannabis y los cannabinoides” [Marihuana as medicine? The medical and therapeutic uses of cannabis and cannabinoids] and “Ayahuasca y salud” [Ayahuasca and health]. His research has been published in scientific journals. He is currently the director of scientific projects at Fundación ICEERS.
Nicotine addiction or tobacco habit?
According to a report published in 2014 by the World Health Organisation (WHO) 5 , tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemical substances, of which at least 250 are known to be harmful for health and at least 69 are known to cause cancer. According to this report, the spectrum of medical problems that can be caused by smoking include: shortness of breath, exacerbated asthma, respiratory infections, cancer (larynx, oropharynx, oesophagus, trachea, bronchus, lung, acute myeloid leukaemia, stomach, pancreas, kidney, ureter, colon, cervix, and bladder), coronary heart disease, heart attacks, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, osteoporosis, blindness, cataracts, periodontitis, aortic aneurysm, atherosclerotic peripheral vascular disease, hip fractures, infertility and impotence.
Only one study has researched the role of CBD as a treatment for addiction to tobacco smoking. In a pilot clinical study, the effectiveness of CBD was compared against a placebo in treatment of tobacco addiction. (A pilot study is one with a small number of subjects, used to test a working hypothesis before moving on to a larger, and therefore more economically costly, sample). It was double blind (neither researchers nor subjects knew who received what treatment), randomised (patients were assigned one or other treatment at random) and placebo controlled (the active pharmaceutical was compared with an inactive one). 24 subjects were recruited who smoked more than 10 cigarettes per day and given an inhaler to be used whenever they felt the urge to smoke. Twelve subjects (6 females) received an inhaler containing CBD and the other twelve (6 females) received an inhaler with a placebo. Treatment lasted one week. During this time, they recorded their cravings for tobacco and anxiety on a daily basis. A follow-up interview was conducted 21 days after treatment. Following the treatment week, cigarette consumption in the CBD group had fallen by 40%, a significant contrast with the placebo group, but these differences were not kept up after 21 days. Both groups reported the same reduction in craving and anxiety over the 7 days the treatment lasted, but, again, by day 21 they had returned to the initial conditions. The authors conclude: “the preliminary data presented here suggest that CBD may be effective in reducing cigarette use in tobacco smokers, however larger scale studies, with longer follow-up are warranted to gauge the implications of these findings. These findings add to a growing literature that highlights the importance of the endocannabinoid system in nicotine addiction” 18 .
According to another WHO study, tobacco continues to be the principal preventable cause of death in the world, killing approximately 6 million people each year and causing economic losses estimated at over half a trillion dollars 6 . The latest report of the Global Tobacco Surveillance System, which gathers data from 22 countries representing nearly 60% of the world’s population, shows that there are approximately 1,300 million smokers in those countries, of whom 205 million had made some attempt to quit smoking in the last 12 months 7 . According to the American Cancer Society, only 4-7% of people are capable of giving up smoking in any given attempt without medicines or other help while around 25% of smokers using medication manage to stay smoke-free for over 6 months. Psychological counselling and other types of emotional support can boost success rates higher than medicines alone 8 .
In their article, the authors of the study offer a series of explanations, based on the effects of CBD on the Endocannabinoid system, which might explain the results. These include the action of CBD on CB1 receptors (as a weak reverse agonist), and its properties as an inhibitor of the enzyme that breaks down the anandamide (FAAH). These actions may be related to a reduction in the boosting properties of nicotine. They also offer some speculation on psychological causes, such as the possible action of CBD in reducing attention on contextual cues that may be involved in maintenance of nicotine consumption.
More than just elevating mood, CBD oil can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of quitting cigarettes. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties , CBD oil may be able to reduce the headaches and other pains experienced when giving up nicotine.
CBD oil can activate the brain’s 5-HT1A receptor, which boosts the availability of serotonin in a similar way to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants. (CBD oil is also being researched as a potential aid in managing depression. ) So, CBD oil may help reduce the stress, anxiety, and irritability associated with attempts to quit smoking.
There are a few different delivery formats available for administering CBD oil. In general, they will all be effective but when it comes to quitting cigarettes, some will be better than others.
CBD Oil for Nicotine Withdrawal
When using CBD oil to quit smoking, the best delivery method may be a CBD vape. Part of what makes it so difficult to quit smoking is the reinforced habitual nature of it. The ritual of smoking—being able to step outside and bringing the cigarette to your lips—is a big part of what makes cigarettes pleasurable and difficult to give up. CBD oil vapes provide a way to ease out of nicotine addiction without having to break the physical habit of smoking.
In periods of sudden stress, when someone would ordinarily go have a cigarette, they can vape instead. The inhale-exhale action will be largely the same, but a nicotine-free CBD vape pen can deliver calming, relaxing effects in a matter of minutes. The effects do not last as long as with other CBD oil delivery formats, but vaping CBD oil is ideal for on-the-spot relief and sudden nicotine cravings. And as a bonus, CBD vapes produce practically no odor, so you’ll enjoy the act of smoking without that infamous, lingering cigarette smell afterwards.
In a 2013 study , researchers tested the efficacy of inhaled cannabidiol (CBD) on smokers who wanted to quit cigarettes. The study lasted a week and included 24 test subjects. Half the group was given CBD, and the other a placebo; when the test subjects felt the urge to have a cigarette, they were told to use the CBD or placebo inhalant provided to them first.
The cyclical and addictive nature of these serotonin peaks and troughs are one of the reasons nicotine users find it so difficult to quit.
It is important to note that CBD has not been approved by the FDA as a treatment for any condition other than epilepsy. For this reason, dosages and way of intake are not standardized, and need to be determined subjectively.
Cigarette smoking is a massive public health problem. In the US, although cigarette use has greatly declined since the days it was allowed on flights and in hospitals, there is still a concerning number of people addicted to tobacco. According to a 2017 CDC survey, almost every fifth American adult uses some tobacco product; over 41 million of those individuals are cigarette smokers.
Using CBD Oil to Stop Smoking
Biochemical damages of smoking aside, inhaling smoke which is the result of combustion of solid matter is genuinely bad for the body because our lungs are not made to withstand such heat. When a cigarette or joint is burned, the temperature at which the smoke is inhaled creates an environment of stress for all the organs it passes through – the mouth, the esophagus, and the lungs. In time, these organs can suffer irreversible cumulative damage, which is why smoking is associated with higher risks of developing chronic health issues.
If you haven’t, are you considering it? What are your concerns?
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