Smoking is awful—bad breath, yellow teeth, respiratory problems, deteriorating heart muscle, cancer and, according to the Center for Disease Control, responsible “for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States.” No wonder people want to quit. Millions have, but millions more continually try to quit and fail.
Most smokers understand these dangers and the unpleasantness associated with tobacco use, but quitting is extremely difficult. Nicotine, tobacco’s physiologically addictive ingredient, is more addictive than heroin so it is no surprise that the body reacts so adversely when deprived of this powerful addictive substance.
In addition to nicotine, there are comforting factors provided by tobacco that must be replaced to successfully quit tobacco use. In adults, these factors include reducing stress and anxiety, providing pleasure and the physical movements involved in smoking. In addition to these factors, teens use tobacco as way to feel mature, be seen as cool and for just being rebellious.
“Cannabis helps overcome not just the physiological addictions of nicotine, but is also an effective alternative to tobacco’s comforting pleasures.”
This is where using cannabis medically can be of even greater help than all the pills, patches and gum substitutes combined. Cannabis helps overcome not just the physiological addictions of nicotine, but is also an effective alternative to tobacco’s comforting pleasures.
Research conducted in 2013 in the Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit of University College London and published in the Journal of Addictive Behaviors documented the role of the endocannabinoid system in nicotine addiction. In a randomized double blind placebo controlled study, researchers found that tobacco smokers who consumed CBD, one of the major endocannabinoids found in cannabis, reduced tobacco consumption by 40 percent. Significantly follow up studies showed a continued reduction in tobacco consumption.
Besides moderating the physiological addictive qualities of nicotine, cannabis can also mitigate the withdrawal symptoms smokers experience when they cease smoking tobacco. These withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, irritability, headache and hunger.
Relieving anxiety, irritability and headaches are ailments that have been treated for thousands of years by cannabis so it is not exactly breaking news that cannabis can successfully treat those withdrawal symptoms. Hunger is another matter. One of the problems associated with tobacco cessation is weight gain if for no other reason than food tastes and smells so much better when tobacco smoking is halted.
“As the CBD counteracts the effects of nicotine, the psychoactive cannabinoid THC counteracts the anxiety, irritability and other problems associated with nicotine withdrawal.”
This relationship between weight gain and cannabis use is more myth than reality. A 2013 study published in the American Journal of Medicine found that people using cannabis have 1-½” smaller waist sizes on average than non-cannabis users. Smaller waists mean lower weight along with being less likely to develop Type II diabetes and having higher levels of HDL cholesterol, the good cholesterol that lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease.
THREE SIMPLE, PLEASANT AND STIMULATING STEPS TO QUITTING TOBACCO
- Throw away all cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco containing products.
- Maintain an abundant supply of quality cannabis available either rolled as joints or ready for loading into a pipe or vaporizer. Edibles are less likely to be effective because of the long time delay before the cannabinoids kick-in.
- Every time the desire to smoke tobacco is felt, inhale cannabis.
As the CBD counteracts the effects of nicotine, the psychoactive cannabinoid THC counteracts the anxiety, irritability and other problems associated with nicotine withdrawal. Since the psychoactive qualities of THC may not be desirable in certain situations, such as at work, finding strains that are high in CBD and low in THC may be needed for those circumstances, although the effectiveness in mitigating withdrawal symptoms may be reduced.
Because nicotine and the comforting attributes of tobacco are so overwhelming, a prodigious amount of cannabis will be required to overcome their addictive powers. As the nicotine is weaned from the body and the cessation of withdrawal symptoms proceeds, the amount of cannabis needed to be consumed will significantly decrease.
“Since the psychoactive qualities of THC may not be desirable in certain situations, such as at work, finding strains that are high in CBD and low in THC may be needed for those circumstances, although the effectiveness in mitigating withdrawal symptoms may be reduced.”
Using cannabis as a substitute for tobacco will not work for everyone, but many will find its legendary medicinal and health benefits able to overcome the multiple withdrawal symptoms associated with tobacco cessation.
Adults will find its ability to mitigate anxiety, irritability, stress and nervousness key to ending tobacco use while teens will succeed in quitting as they experience an even greater rebellious thrill utilizing a forbidden pleasure that is far less dangerous than tobacco.