Search
Close this search box.

Can CBD Reduce Alcohol Cravings?

Alcohol cravings can occur for several reasons, including the formation of habits and the presence of triggers, such as stress, sadness, anger or visiting a place you often drink. While not everyone who experiences alcohol cravings has alcoholism, if you drink often or your alcohol use includes binge drinking five or more days in the last month, you might have an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). Indeed, 24% of adults in England and Scotland regularly drink over the Chief Medical Officer’s low-risk guidelines and, in England, there are an estimated 602,391 dependent drinkers, but just 18% receiving treatment.

For most, a typical craving might last for 3 to 5 minutes. However, for those with AUD, alcohol cravings can be harder to ignore. Although you can treat alcohol use disorder with rehabilitation, counselling, support groups or medication, there is a growing interest in natural alternatives to support alcohol misuse and addiction.

In recent years, the use of CBD has gained widespread attention for its potential therapeutic benefits. One interesting area of research is its impact on alcohol cravings, which suggest that CBD could be a natural alternative that helps to curb the desire for alcohol, and even combat alcohol addiction. In this article, we will explore the relationship between CBD and alcohol cravings, and what the existing scientific evidence says on the potential benefits. 

Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, is one of the compounds found in the cannabis plant. Unlike delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is a non-psychoactive compound and does not induce the “high” often associated with cannabis. Instead, CBD interacts with our endocannabinoid system (ECS) and influences its CB1 and CB2 receptors, which can help to regulate several of our cognitive and physical functions. This includes pain, mood, appetite and stress, but also the potential to regulate cravings, manager triggers, and combat addictive behaviours in the context of alcohol. 

Early animal studies suggest that CBD can help to reduce alcohol cravings, the motivation to drink, withdrawal symptoms, and the risk of relapse. In addition to this, studies suggest that CBD may also prevent liver inflammation and damage, and alcohol-related brain damage. However, further research on humans is required to establish CBD as a reliable intervention for individuals struggling with alcohol cravings and addiction.

A 2017 study on mice found that CBD decreased the motivation to drink alcohol, reduced alcohol consumption and intake, and prevented relapse. It was concluded that these results show that the administration of CBD reduced the reinforcing properties, motivation and relapse for ethanol, which “strongly suggests” that CBD may be useful for the treatment of alcohol use disorders. 

A 2019 study also concluded that CBD could be used for various purposes in alcohol use disorder as, in experimental animal studies, it reduced alcohol intake, motivation, relapse, anxiety and impulse. It also concluded that CBD reduces alcohol-related steatosis and fibrosis in the liver, as well as alcohol-related brain damage, which could improve hepatic and neurocognitive outcomes in subjects with AUD. 

A 2017 study also found that, in mice, CBD improved liver damage from excessive alcohol consumption, inhibited inflammatory responses, and limited the build-up of fat in the liver. Thus, it was concluded that CBD may have therapeutic potential in the treatment of alcoholic liver diseases associated with inflammation, oxidative stress and steatosis. 

Additional research from 2018 found that CBD helped decrease impulsive behaviour in rats with alcohol or cocaine addiction. The effects lasted up to 5 months after the last dose of CBD, which highlights the potential of CBD in relapse prevention. There are clinical trials being conducted on humans as you read this, such as a recent one on CBD for the Treatment of Alcohol Use Disorder that finished in December 2023, sponsored by the University of Colorado.

A 2021 study with 120 people who use cannabis and alcohol found that those who took CBD for 5 days had fewer drinking days and consumed less alcohol when they did drink compared with the other groups.

A 2023 study found that CBD regulates behavioural and brain alterations induced by spontaneous alcohol withdrawal, which suggest the usefulness of CBD in treating alcohol withdrawal. Specifically, CBD normalised the behavioural, somatic withdrawal signs and anxiety-like behaviours in mice.

Growing evidence also suggests that CBD could mitigate acute or protracted opioid withdrawal-related symptoms, and previous preclinical work on animals demonstrated that CBD reduced the tendency to use heroin in response to a drug-associated cue, which further demonstrates its potential effectiveness in treating addiction. Indeed, research from 2023 suggests that CBD could inhibit the metabolism of nicotine, which means that it could curb cigarette cravings and help individuals quit smokingmost smokers drink alcohol, and smokers are more likely to drink than are non-smokers.

CBD could also help with certain alcohol triggers, such as pain and stress, as well as physical withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, loss of appetite, depression, restlessness and insomnia.

  • Improved Mood: CBD can affect how your brain’s chemical receptors respond to the serotonin in your system (and other “happy chemicals”), which can reduce feelings of depression

  • Reduced Stress: Existing research has shown that CBD can reduce feelings of anxiety and stress; in one trial, researchers evaluated the effects of CBD treatment in 72 adults with either anxiety or sleep problems and, after 2 months, 78.1–79.2% of participants reported improvements in anxiety symptoms.

However, more research is required on the specific impact of CBD on alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

No, it is not thought that CBD is addictive. Unlike its well-known counterpart THC, CBD does not have abuse potential. In fact, CBD has a good safety profile and is is generally well tolerated without side effects.* In addition to this, some studies suggest that CBD can treat certain types of addiction.

* Reported adverse effects may be as a result of drug-drug interactions between CBD and patients’ existing medications.

As CBD is non-psychoactive and has little to no abuse potential, it is generally considered safe for those recovering from alcohol use disorder. Furthermore, CBD is a non-intoxicating substance, which means it shouldn’t impair your ability to function or make good decisions.

For this reason, it is often considered a great alternative to alcohol or natural aid for those trying to combat alcohol use disorder.

If you’re considering using CBD to help with alcohol cravings or alcohol use disorder, there are some key factors to keep in mind when choosing a product.

  • Medications: CBD has the potential to interact with certain medications, so it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before taking CBD.

  • Type of CBD: Broad-spectrum CBD is a great option for those who want to experience the effects of CBD without consuming THC, the psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant. Clinical reports suggest that broad or full-spectrum CBD may have a better effect due to the number of cannabinoids and other plant compounds they contain that work together, otherwise known as the entourage effect

  • Type of Product: CBD products come in various forms, such as oilstopicals, capsules, edibles, and vape pens. Choose a delivery method and dosage that suits your needs. 

  • Dosage: Finding the right dose and administration method can be a trial-and-error process as results can vary significantly from person to person. Start with a low dose and gradually increase it while monitoring its effects.

  • Source and Quality: Choose CBD derived from organically grown hemp, as this ensures minimal exposure to harmful chemicals. You should also look for third-party laboratory reports to verify how pure and potent your product is, and to ensure there are no contaminants.

  • Individual Variability: The effectiveness of CBD may vary from person to person; what works for one individual may not work for another.

These products have been tested by third-party, independent quality control analysts via a vigorous process, and the certifications are available to view on the specific product pages. In addition to this, the Banned Substance Control Group (BSCG) have awarded us gold certification meaning our oil is 100% THC-free and recommended for safe use in sports.

Need additional help? Take our CBD Quiz for product recommendations in minutes, or read our full guides on How to Choose the Right CBD Product and The Different Types of CBD. Want to learn more? Read our blog post on CBD Instead of Alcohol: Why CBD Mocktails Will Replace Alcohol.

We are Purity Hemp, the UK’s #1 Online CBD provider. Backed by science, and built on the principles of traceability, transparency & trust, we are dedicated to improving the health & wellness of people around the world. We are proud to be one of the only companies to guarantee full traceability from seed to shelf with our premium range of CBD products, tested by third-party, independent quality control analysts.

Alcohol Change UK. “Alcohol Statistics.” Alcohol Change UK, 2020, alcoholchange.org.uk/alcohol-facts/fact-sheets/alcohol-statistics.

“CTG Labs – NCBI.” Clinicaltrials.gov, 6 Dec. 2023, clinicaltrials.gov/study/NCT04873453.

De Ternay, Julia, et al. “Therapeutic Prospects of Cannabidiol for Alcohol Use Disorder and Alcohol-Related Damages on the Liver and the Brain.” Frontiers in Pharmacology, vol. 10, 31 May 2019, https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2019.00627.

Gasparyan, Ani, et al. “Cannabidiol Regulates Behavioral and Brain Alterations Induced by Spontaneous Alcohol Withdrawal.” Neuropharmacology, vol. 233, 1 Aug. 2023, pp. 109549–109549, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropharm.2023.109549.

Geneva. CANNABIDIOL (CBD) Critical Review Report Expert Committee on Drug Dependence Fortieth Meeting. 2018.

Giorgi, Anna, and Alina Sharon. “Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: Signs, Symptoms, and Diagnosis.” Healthline, 2013, www.healthline.com/health/alcohol-use-and-abuse.

Gonzalez-Cuevas, Gustavo, et al. “Unique Treatment Potential of Cannabidiol for the Prevention of Relapse to Drug Use: Preclinical Proof of Principle.” Neuropsychopharmacology, vol. 43, no. 10, 22 Mar. 2018, pp. 2036–2045, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41386-018-0050-8.

Hurd, Yasmin. “CBD Reduces Craving and Anxiety in People with Heroin Use Disorder | Mount Sinai – New York.” Mount Sinai Health System, www.mountsinai.org/about/newsroom/2019/cbd-reduces-craving-and-anxiety-in-people-with-heroin-use-disorder.

Karoly, H. C., et al. “THC and CBD Effects on Alcohol Use among Alcohol and Cannabis Co-Users.” Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, vol. 35, no. 6, Sept. 2021, pp. 749–759, https://doi.org/10.1037/adb0000706.

Kudrich, Christopher, et al. “Adjunctive Management of Opioid Withdrawal with the Nonopioid Medication Cannabidiol.” Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, 22 Oct. 2021, https://doi.org/10.1089/can.2021.0089.

MD, Shafik Boyaji. “CBD for Chronic Pain: The Science Doesn’t Match the Marketing.” Harvard Health Blog, 23 Sept. 2020, www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cbd-for-chronic-pain-the-science-doesnt-match-the-marketing-2020092321003.

Nasrin, Shamema, et al. “Inhibition of Nicotine Metabolism by Cannabidiol (CBD) and 7-Hydroxycannabidiol (7-OH-CBD).” Chemical Research in Toxicology, vol. 36, no. 2, 10 Jan. 2023, pp. 177–187, https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.chemrestox.2c00259.

NHS . “Overview – Alcohol Misuse.” NHS, NHS, 21 Aug. 2018, www.nhs.uk/conditions/alcohol-misuse/.

Shannon, Scott. “Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series.” The Permanente Journal, vol. 23, no. 1, 2019, https://doi.org/10.7812/tpp/18-041.

Shiffman, Saul, and Mark Balabanis. “Do Drinking and Smoking Go Together?” Alcohol Health and Research World, vol. 20, no. 2, 1996, pp. 107–110, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6876501.

Viudez-Martínez, Adrián, et al. “Cannabidiol Reduces Ethanol Consumption, Motivation and Relapse in Mice.” Addiction Biology, vol. 23, no. 1, 1 Jan. 2018, pp. 154–164, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28194850/, https://doi.org/10.1111/adb.12495.

Wang, Yuping, et al. “Cannabidiol Attenuates Alcohol-Induced Liver Steatosis, Metabolic Dysregulation, Inflammation and Neutrophil-Mediated Injury.” Scientific Reports, vol. 7, no. 1, 21 Sept. 2017, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-10924-8.

Like this article?

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Linkdin
Share on Pinterest

Leave a comment

Please provide your details below to download the ultimate guide to CBD

Directions for Use:

  • Shake well before use
  • Add dose directly to your pet’s food, stirring it in if necessary
  • Use up to twice daily – (See dosage table for guidelines)
  • Store in a cool dry place out of direct sunlight

Weight of Pet Regular Dosage Strong Dosage
Up to 20lbs/9kg 1 to 4 drops 4 to 8 drops
20 to 40lbs/9-18kg 2 to 8 drops 8 to 16 drops
Over 40lbs/18kg 4 to 20 drops 16 to 40 drops

Contains Zero THC, chlorophyll free

*This product is sold for use by pets only, as it contains CBD Isolate.

We recommend discussing the use of CBD with a qualified vet, especially if your pet is pregnant or nursing a litter.

Keep out of sight or reach of children.