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Can You Take CBD If You're Sober?

With Father's Day approaching, I'm often reminded of that movie The Other F Word and how much life changed as I transitioned from wild punk rock kid to responsible (well, pretty responsible) dad. Back in the day I used to smoke, drink or snort pretty much anything I could get my hands on. Fortunately I never had any addiction issues myself, but there was a stretch back in the early 90s when - like the Stones tune "Monkey Man" - literally all my friends were junkies.  Although sadly a few acquaintances from that time didn't survive, most of that crowd eventually did get clean and sober, and are now living healthy, fulfilling lives surrounded by friends and family who love them. 

Having lived through that experience, I am extremely mindful of how important it is to bring a socially-responsible perspective to the CBD and Cannabis industries, especially with regard to addiction and sobriety issues. One thing we do know is that opiate-related deaths are down in states where cannabis is legal, which certainly suggests many people may be substituting more benign cannabinoids for harder drugs that can kill them. But that still doesn't take away from the fact that people who are trying to stay sober -  or people who don't want to take drugs in the first place - really do need to take a very hard look at whether or not cannabinoids may be right for them.

I don't think there's any argument about the fact that THC is a mind-altering substance, and for that reason alone my position is that people who are sober should avoid it. Period Full Stop. But what about CBD? Here's where I think the discussion needs to become a bit more nuanced. Is it possible that THC's non-psychotropic cousin CBD could have powerful mental health benefits, without leading to relapse or addiction?

In CBD products that contain only CBD and other minor cannabinoids, with THC levels that are either completely non-detectable or less than 0.03% THC by weight, I think it is safe to say these products will have no psychoactive effect on the user. In other words, Velobars will not get you high. But are they OK for people who are sober? I do have my own personal opinion on the matter, but before I share that let's take a look at what some prominent voices in the sobriety community have to say.

Nova Recovery Center puts it this way:

At this point, it’s safe to say that the risks of using CBD may very well outweigh its potential benefits, especially for someone who has struggled with substance abuse problems in the past. Although CBD may not be addictive in the same way other drugs like cocaine or heroin are, users could still develop an unhealthy relationship with CBD due to false beliefs about its medicinal qualities instead of developing coping mechanisms to deal with life’s circumstances.

As a counterpoint to that argument, an article from assesses the debate in this way:

I couldn’t understand why taking CBD therapeutically was so controversial for people in recovery. A quick look online and you can see people questioning others in recovery who take CBD and claiming they cannot take their sobriety seriously – that they’re risking relapse – despite scientific evidence to the contrary. There seems to be this overwhelming fear that the taking CBD might be triggering and lead to picking up another substance.

This articles continues with the results of a Facebook poll of its readers on the topic, and a review of comments in that forum about the mental, physical, and emotional benefits of CBD that its users had experienced. Based on that, the author concludes that CBD "could be used as a tool to enhance wellbeing in recovery."

Michael Pollen's best-seller How To Change Your Mind has brought the idea of using psychedelics and other psychotropic drugs in a clinical setting to battle a wide array of mental health issues - including substance abuse - into the mainstream. And for that reason we've recently seen a host of psychedelic reform measures at the state and local level. So at what point can we draw the line between substances that can help fight drug abuse, and substances that are just....drugs?

Clearly the jury is still out on this topic, and more research needs to be done. And we also need to re-examine a lot of our own biases -- you don't see this same level of soul-searching in the recovery community about smoking cigarettes or drinking coffee. 

If I was to express my own personal opinion, it would be that any substance that could possibly confer mental health benefits and help people lead healthier, more fulfilling lives without the fear of relapse or addiction could be considered a good thing for everyone, including people in recovery.

But at the end of the day, it's not about my opinion, it's about yours. You have to figure out what feels right to you. If you feel the CBD path is too risky to go down, then please!! Err on the side of caution and abstain. But (shameless plug alert!) if you want to give this whole CBD thing a try, you just might want to try a healthy CBD protein bar that's organic, vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, and tastes great. Just sayin! Order links are below ;)

Cheers everybody!


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