Can You Use CBD in Recovery?
Currently, there is a lot of discussion about the legalization of cannabis in the United States. Part of this debate includes the medical effects and uses of the plant. Cannabis contains two main ingredients, THC and CBD. While cannabis has psychoactive and mind-altering properties, THC is the chemical responsible for the “high” that cannabis produces. On the other hand, CBD is the compound known medicinally for reducing anxiety and providing an organic calming sensation.
In the past few years, CBD has become a health fad due to its medicinal uses and organic properties. However, many individuals in recovery are unsure whether they are allowed to use CBD in recovery. Some people in recovery frown upon using CBD and classify its use as relapse behavior, even though CBD does not provide mind-altering effects. Although, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), “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.”
Taking care of your mental health in sobriety is extremely important. Some people in recovery claim that CBD is beneficial in soothing mental health-related issues, such as anxiety and PTSD. The resistance to using CBD in recovery comes from fact that it originates from a plant that individuals consume to get high, even though CBD does not have this potential. So, is it okay to use CBD in recovery? Let’s take a look at all of the facts.
What is CBD?
CBD is one of the ingredients found in the marijuana or cannabis plant. Unlike THC, CBD does not get you high. This means that the objection to using CBD in recovery comes from its source, rather than the actual organic chemical. Also, CBD is the chemical responsible for a majority of the medicinal effects associated with cannabis. For example, CBD was approved by the FDA as a seizure treatment and is being sold and marketed under the brand-name Epidiolex.
While seizures are the only official use for CBD, many people view CBD as an effective treatment for a wide variety of medical issues. For example, CBD is commonly viewed as an effective and organic treatment for anxiety. In fact, some studies back the medicinal value of CBD for anxiety, especially PTSD-related anxiety. This makes CBD attractive for recovering addicts suffering from anxiety disorders. Additionally, CBD is thought to play a part in the pain-relieving properties of marijuana, in combination with THC.
Fortunately, CBD is able to produce these positive health effects without getting the individual high. This is because while it may affect the brain, it does not activate the receptors responsible for the intoxicating effects of THC. This makes CBD similar to over-the-counter pain relievers or antidepressants, as CBD alters the brain enough to diminish pain or anxiety, but not in a way that induces a euphoria high.
What are the Laws Associated with CBD?
The legal status of CBD is, unfortunately, very complex and often lies in a grey area of regulatory laws. Technically, because CBD comes from the marijuana plant, it is not legal. However, when THC is removed from a marijuana plant, it becomes legal. Once THC is removed, the plant is classified as hemp, making it legal to be grown by certain individuals under the 2014 Farm Bill.
The general attitude concerning CBD from law enforcement and the DEA seems to be that if CBD comes from hemp, it’s not technically legal, but it is tolerated. This is why you will see CBD being sold in stores across the United States without any issues. With that being said, it’s really up to personal opinion whether CBD is morally safe for individuals in recovery. While it is not technically legal, it is not a concern of law enforcement agencies as it does not have psychoactive properties.
Does CBD Show up on Drug Tests?
Typical urinalysis tests or other drug tests usually only test for THC concerning chemicals found in the cannabis plant. However, CBD is a different metabolite, therefore, the use of this chemical won’t cause a test to be positive for THC. However, because CBD and THC come from the same plant, some CBD products contain trace amounts of THC. Other manufacturers may intentionally add some THC into the product to potentiate its effects, especially when sold in states where recreational or medicinal marijuana is legal.
If your CBD comes from a hemp source, it should only contain .3% THC or less. Keeping this in mind, CBD should not make your test show up on an average drug test. Some users claim that trace amounts of THC build up over time after an individual uses CBD products daily. This may eventually cause an individual to come up positive for THC. However, this is only anecdotal though—the official verdict is, currently, CBD products from reputable hemp growers won’t cause an individual to be positive for THC on drug tests.
Deciding What’s Best for Your Individual Recovery
A general rule of thumb is that everything is dependent on the status of your personal recovery. If you feel as if you are doing well in recovery, with no urges to abuse substances, then the decision of whether or not to use CBD is up to you and your sponsor, therapist, or addictions counselor. Ultimately, using CBD is a matter of intention, as it is with most questions surrounding recovery.
To explain, if your intention to use something like CBD for its medical purposes, rather than to try to change the way you feel or get high, then your intentions are safe, and using CBD should not be an issue. You should always speak with your sponsor, therapist, doctor, or another person in recovery before deciding on whether or not you will use CBD
If you or a loved one feel as if you have jeopardized your recovery, or have relapsed on marijuana or another substance, get help as soon as possible. CWC Recovery is here for you and all of your addiction and substance abuse treatment needs. Contact us today for more information.
Medically Reviewed: November 13, 2020
Medical Reviewer | CWC Recovery Staff
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.