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Can I Use CBD if I’m in Recovery?

There is plenty of discussion around the legalization of cannabis in the United States. Part of the debate is due to the medical effects that the plant can have. The cannabis plant has two main active ingredients, THC and CBD.

THC is the main compound in marijuana, and it’s the one that gets you high.

CBD is the ingredient known for reducing anxiety and providing a very organic calming sensation. The important distinction here is that THC has psychoactive properties, while CBD does not.

In the last few years, CBD oil seems to have become a health industry buzzword. But is it okay to consume CBD products while in recovery from addiction?

Some people in recovery may frown on seeking this sensation, and classify it as relapse behavior, even if it is not itself a relapse. However, according to the World Health Organization, “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”

What Does the Law Say About CBD?

You may have seen it in pharmacies or wellness spas – even pet food and coffee shops are incorporating it into their products! But being a compound in marijuana, an illegal drug, how can CBD oil be so easily available?

Because it isn’t a psychoactive ingredient and has legitimate medical benefits, CBD can be purchased in most states without restriction, even though the federal government still classifies it in the same category as marijuana. It’s a strange and complex grey area, legally speaking. The sale and purchase of CBD is allowed under the 2018 Farm Bill if the CBD is extracted from hemp (a cannabis plant containing less than 0.3% THC). That said, CBD is only legal in 33 states.

We told you it’s complicated.

What Do Most Recovery Programs Say About CBD?

The question of whether or not you should use CBD when in recovery is related to the topic of using pain medication to treat extreme cases of pain. These cases are often associated with major injuries or terminal illness, or using drugs containing DXM. Whether or not someone should use CBD in recovery really depends on the person, and how strict they want their program to be.

The safest avenue would be to avoid the use of anything that can alter the mind, but then that steers us into the conversation of substances like tobacco and caffeine as having mind altering properties. It’s all relative, and at the end of the day, the decision of whether it is safe to use such substances is between you and your higher power.

Institutions that are focused on rehabilitating people from drug and alcohol addiction each have to draw a line in the sand as far as their stance on these types of “grey area” substances. While some programs may allow the use of CBD and DXM as needed to treat legitimate conditions, still others prohibit even the use of caffeine and tobacco because of their mind-altering properties. While these programs may be able to control the use of substances such as these within their walls, it all changes when a client leaves treatment. Then they have to make the decision of where to draw the line in the sand for their own program.

How to Decide What’s Best for You

A general rule of thumb is that everything is dependent on the nature of your spiritual condition. If there is a good connection with a higher power of your own understanding, then the decision of whether or not to use a “grey area” substance becomes very clear. Ultimately it is all a matter of intention, as it is with most questions surrounding recovery.

If it is your intention to use something like CBD for its medical purposes, rather than to try to experience a sensation that changes the way you feel, then there is safety in the truth of that intention. Consulting with your sponsor or another person working a strong program is always a good move, especially if there is some uncertainty.

In the end, a good rule to follow is to decide whether you really need it for something you are legitimately struggling with. If there are other, safer ways of dealing with those struggles, then you probably have no business experimenting with something that may jeopardize your recovery.

If you feel you have jeopardized your recovery and may be relapsing, get help as soon as you can. At Any Length, we specialize in helping men find lifelong recovery from their addiction. Give us a call at (512) 746-7036 today.

Let’s Talk

Any Length Retreat is a 5 acre ranch in Austin, TX where addicted men and their families find lifelong recovery through the application of the Twelve Steps. Contact us to tell us your story.

There is plenty of discussion around the legalization of cannabis in the US. But what about using cannabis products as a recovered addict?

Can I Use CBD In Recovery?

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CBD is popping up everywhere from coffee shops to doctor’s offices. But is it safe to use in recovery?

Can I Use CBD In Recovery?

The idea of using marijuana during recovery has sparked a lot of debate. Some people argue that it is an intoxicating substance and therefore has the potential to re-trigger a full blow addiction, or that using marijuana is itself a symptom of a continued addiction. Others say responsible, non-compulsive marijuana use is the total opposite of addiction, and even that it can help them manage some symptoms of opioid use disorder, like withdrawal and cravings. But the introduction of one substance has complicated this argument even further. That substance is cannabidiol, or CBD.

What Is CBD?

Like THC, the ingredient in marijuana responsible for those controversial intoxicating effects, CBD comes from the cannabis plant. But unlike THC, CBD doesn’t get you high. Which means the objection to CBD apparently comes from its source, and not the chemical itself. CBD is also responsible for a lot of the medicinal effects attributed to cannabis. For example, it was recently approved by the FDA to treat seizures and is being sold and marketed under the brand-name Epidiolex.

Although seizures are the only official, marketed use for the drug, many people believe CBD can also help with a host of other medical issues. For example, many people believe their anxiety can be relieved by a CBD regimen, and some studies back this, including anxiety related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It’s also thought to be responsible for the pain relieving effects commonly associated with marijuana, in conjunction with THC.

Best of all, it delivers these effects without an accompanying high. CBD is non-intoxicating. That’s because while it does affect the brain—hence its medicinal properties—it does not activate the receptors responsible for the intoxicating effects of THC. Similar to antidepressants or over-the-counter pain relievers, CBD changes the brain enough to diminish pain or anxiety, for example, but not in a way that delivers euphoria.

Is CBD Legal?

Unfortunately, CBD has an unusually complex regulatory status . Technically, it is not legal . It comes from cannabis, which is scheduled by the DEA—and they say that covers all the compounds that come from it, too. But that same plant becomes legal when the THC is bred out of it. At that point, it gets classified as hemp, making it legal under the 2014 Farm Bill for certain people to grow it. The general attitude from the DEA and other law enforcement agencies seems to be that if the CBD comes from hemp, it’s not really legal, but it’s tolerated. That’s why you will see it being sold without issues in stores around the country, regardless of their marijuana laws. When it comes to staying above the law during recovery, you’d have to stay away from CBD to be technically in compliance. But it’s extremely unlikely that you will catch a charge if you do buy a bottle of CBD from your local supplements store or vape shop.

Will CBD Show Up On A Drug Test?

The average urinalysis or other drug test typically tests for THC. CBD is a totally different metabolite and therefore won’t cause a test to pop positive for THC. But because they come from the same plant, some CBD products do contain small amounts of THC. Others intentionally add some THC into the product in order to potentiate the effects, especially those sold in states where recreational or medicinal marijuana is legal. If your CBD comes from a hemp source, it should contain .3% THC or less. And that should not make your test show up on the average test, at least not according to toxicologists I interviewed while covering the topic for Vice . Some users have claimed that the trace amounts of THC built up over time, after using CBD products daily for an extended time, and eventually caused them to come up positive for THC. That’s just anecdotal though—the official state is, currently, CBD products from reputable hemp growers won’t cause issues with your drugs test.

So What Does All This Mean For My Recovery?

Addiction recovery is individual. There will never be a straightforward answer to these kinds of questions, because ultimately it’s up to you. Some people feel that even the use of prescribed anti-depressants is an affront on their recovery, because it means they continue to be reliant on drugs. Most people are less strict, and recognize that we rely on many substances throughout our lives. If your use is not compulsive and continued despite negative consequences, it doesn’t meet the technical criteria for addiction. Because CBD does not produce euphoria, it is unlikely to lead to that type of use. And since it likely doesn’t carry significant negative consequences like a failed drug test or incarceration, you should feel pretty safe using it for anxiety, depression, pain, or another issue you are facing in recovery. But in the end, it’s up to you.

Elizabeth Brico is a freelance writer with an MFA in Writing & Poetics from Naropa University. Her blog, Betty’s Battleground, was recently ranked by Feedspot as one of the top 75 PTSD blogs. She is also a regular contributing writer for HealthyPlace’s trauma blog. Her work has appeared on Vice, Vox, Stat News, The Fix, and others. When she isn’t working, she can usually be found reading, writing, or watching speculative fiction.

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