How to Quit Cigarettes with Weed
Nov 24, 2018 | Kat Austin
Cannabis has become legalized for medicinal purposes and recreational use in many states for good reason. The plant’s untapped potential for treating symptoms of numerous diseases is incredible. Using marijuana to quit smoking cigarettes is one of the under-the-radar popular uses in the last few years.
In 2018, nearly 14% of U.S. population was reported to smoke cigarettes. In addition to cigarette smoking, tobacco is also used in the form of cigars, chewing tobacco, and vapes. The CDC website states that smoking is the leading cause of preventable death. This is what makes a natural solution like the cannabis plant a must-try for beating nicotine dependence and addiction.
How Does Cannabis Help Quit Smoking Cigarettes?
First, it is important to note that cannabis is not a miracle cure for addiction. It will not immediately curb your appetite for addictive substances, but it can still be very useful for helping you break an addiction to nicotine. Cannabis has several functions that work to make it a useful part of treatments for chemical addiction.
Nicotine addiction is at the heart of tobacco dependency. Nicotine is a drug that produces physical and mood-altering effects in users’ brains that are temporarily pleasing. The side effects of nicotine withdrawal include mood swings, night sweats, nausea or vomiting, and more.
The cannabis plant may be useful for treating addiction because its two main cannabinoids (THC and CBD) both feature therapeutic properties that help many people get relief from withdrawal symptoms.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) produces psychoactive effects. Quitting smoking is likely to cause a disrupt in pattern or change in mood. The effects of THC are usually calming and euphoric, which may help balance mood and calm nerves while transitioning away from nicotine.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is another cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant that may be useful for quitting cigarettes. It has a number of medicinal benefits that may make it useful for treating the nausea and sleep troubles.
Both cannabinoids can be taken separately, and there are many forms of products to choose from. THC is easy to get from almost any medicinal strain, but high CBD marijuana strains exist as well. Most people find them to have synergistic effects when taken together. A balanced combination can be found in many strains, tinctures, edibles, and other marijuana products.
Why Cannabis Makes it Easier to Quit Cigarettes
- Cannabis Mimics Nicotine’s Positive Effects
- Cannabis Relieves Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms
- Cannabis Helps Break Psychological Addiction to Cigarettes
- How to Use THC and CBD Supplements to Quit Smoking
Cannabis May Mimic Some of Nicotine’s Effects
People often turn to smoking cigarettes to relieve stress, improve mood, or act as a stimulant. On a chemical level, nicotine activates reward pathways and increases levels of dopamine (the “feel-good” hormone and neurotransmitter) in these circuits.
Dopamine affects focus, motivation, and reward, and is the neurotransmitter that is most often blamed for chemical addictions. The combination of the activation of the reward pathways and the increase in dopamine levels results in feelings of relaxation, happiness, and euphoria.
Cannabis causes similar effects and many users report improved focus, stable moods, lowered anxiety, and positive emotions. The euphoric high associated with THC can help control irritability. Some people experience a mild euphoric feeling when using CBD alone as well, although it does not create a high.
Many people use cannabis to help manage anxiety, which is another popular reason why people turn to cigarettes.
Cannabis Has Shown to Relieve Symptoms of Nicotine Withdrawal
Nicotine withdrawals can be uncomfortable, resulting in various uncomfortable side effects. Often, the effects of withdrawal are so nasty that smokers immediately reach for another cigarette to get relief. Studies show that cannabis may be useful for treating many of the side effects related to quitting smoking. These effects include:
Studies show that cannabis is an anti-nausea medication powerful enough to ward off nausea related to cancer and chemotherapy. This same rule can be applied to nausea that happens after you quit smoking.
One of the more common side effects, headaches, may be treated with cannabidiol as well. Many studies show that CBD is a powerful pain reliever. It works by disrupting communications that alert the brain of pain. Because it has also shown to have powerful anti-inflammatory effects, it may be twice as effective against headaches.
Some strains of marijuana (particularly sativas) may act as a mild stimulant, which helps fight the fatigue related to nicotine withdrawals. CBD alone may help fight fatigue if you need a morning boost but do not wish to get high. Some people even like to add cannabidiol to their coffee in order to boost energy and promote focus during the day. These effects, along with its potential to lower stress and anxiety levels, help cannabis ward off any irritability that comes along with withdrawal.
Some researchers say that cannabis may be useful for fighting stress and stabilizing mood when used in small doses. It is sometimes used to treat mood disorders and depression. Many users report positive mood shifts after using cannabis. For these reasons, it may be useful for treating the irritability related to nicotine withdrawal.
THC might induce a little case of the munchies, but in small quantities it can be avoided. However, CBD might help counteract the effects altogether.
A group of studies shows that cannabidiol may be a good option for fighting the weight gain associated with quitting smoking. Some studies show that cannabidiol can slow the production of fat cells, while others suggest that it can speed up the fat burning process. Some people even report a curbed appetite when taking CBD 20-30 minutes before a meal.
Breaking the Psychological Addiction to Cigarettes
One factor of cigarette addiction, the “psychological” factor, is the “habit” of smoking cigarettes. Psychological addiction does not involve nicotine or other chemicals found in the cigarettes. Many people that suffer from a psychological addiction to cigarettes use it as a crutch to calm anxiety or replace other nervous habits.
Aside from helping you break the chemical dependency on nicotine, there are several ways that cannabis may help you break (or replace) the habit as well. One main reason is its impact on anxiety and stress levels. This alone may help reduce the psychological need to smoke a cigarette or busy your hands, especially since most people feel the need when they are stressed out, anxious, or irritable.
If stress is not necessarily your trigger, there are other ways that cannabidiol can replace the smoking habit. One of the most popular cannabis alternatives to smoking is vaping. Vaping cannabis oil is one way to still get the hand to mouth feeling but without the nicotine.
Vaping cannabis means using a vape pen (like the Arizer Solo 2), which heats and vaporizes the oil. Then, you inhale the cannabis vapor into your lungs in a method that is similar to smoking. Vaping allows people to microdose weed , which helps them keep a constant flow of cannabis into their system to help treat nicotine addiction. Vaping cannabis offers the same benefits as other forms of the plant, but it is the most similar method to using cigarettes and is often the first choice of people trying to quit.
How to Use Cannabis to Quit Smoking Cigarettes
People are often satisfied with the effects of cannabis on nicotine addiction and the habit of smoking. However, it may not always be appropriate to use THC before going to work, school, or other daily events. Therefore, many people are benefitting from a combination of cannabis and supplements containing only cannabidiol.
Cannabis can be used when at home or at play, and cannabidiol may help fight the grips of addiction throughout the rest of the day. One popular cannabidiol product chosen by people trying to quit includes CBD vapes. These act similarly to the cannabis vapes, but with no psychoactive effects, which makes them useful for using during “cigarette” breaks at work.
CBD inhalers are popular among those trying to quit smoking as well. These inhalers deliver a strong dose of cannabidiol and may help satiate the hand-to-mouth fixation related to cigarettes as well. Cannabis inhalers are used just like a regular inhaler to get a cannabis dose as needed. They kick in fast, so they may be able to help curb a last minute cigarette craving.
CBD gum is another popular option. Many people use it similarly to the nicotine gum. Cannabidiol gum may be preferable because it offers all of the benefits of cannabidiol without the nicotine.
Many people prefer the gum because it slowly releases cannabidiol while chewing, which may help satiate cigarette cravings. Gum is also popular because it keeps the mouth busy, lessening the chance of a cigarette craving. Mint flavored CBD gum may help curb the appetite for menthol smokers.
Criticisms About Using Weed to Quit Smoking
While many people are in support of using cannabis to break the stronghold of addiction, it’s not without criticism. Cannabis has a long history of legality issues that have lead to misinformation. There are also some side effects related to cannabis and CBD, like any supplement, that may make them inappropriate for some users.
Cannabis is not for everyone, and you should use it to quit smoking at your own discretion and the discretion of a doctor. You should take a look at both the positive values and the common criticisms before choosing cannabis.
Is Cannabis Addictive?
The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that marijuana might be addictive in severe cases, generally after chronic use over time. However, the addictive properties are most often related to THC, the psychoactive component that causes the marijuana “high.”
Cannabis addiction is most often classified as a psychological addiction, meaning the person is addicted to the idea and habit of smoking, but not the chemical itself.
More research is needed to determine the possibility of forming an addiction to CBD. Because most CBD products typically contain no THC, many researchers think it is unlikely. If addiction to CBD is possible, the addiction is likely to be psychological, not physical.
“But You’re Just Replacing One Substance with Another”
Many people frown upon using cannabis to help break an addiction to nicotine, but it is likely that their cause is unjust. The most common thing you will hear is that using cannabis to kick nicotine is “replacing one substance with another.”
That is usually true with any medication or new habits formed in place of a cigarette addiction. People choose nicotine gum, patches, or other medications to replace cigarettes because it seems to be a lesser evil.
This is true with cannabis as well, but it is important to compare the two substances in order to see the benefits. While cigarettes and nicotine pose a serious threat to your health, cannabis actually has a lengthy list of potential health benefits. Plus, many studies show that cannabis is not an chemically addictive substance. This means that you can use it to withdrawal and detox from nicotine, and then reduce the amount until you’re no longer using cannabis. Quitting cannabis should be easy, unlike some other prescriptions meant to fight nicotine addiction.
The list of potential side effects to cannabis is mild, and most often adverse effects are rare. The list of side effects of cannabidiol is even shorter. One study that looked at the overall safety of cannabidiol reported that the most common side effects were tiredness, appetite changes, and diarrhea. Some people have complained about nausea or vomiting, but this is typically only linked to a very high dose.
Will Cannabis Cause Anxiety?
Many people claim that cannabis causes them to have anxiety. While the resulting anxiety may be very real and debilitating for some people, most studies show that it only affects a minority group of cannabis users. For many people, both THC and CBD have anti-anxiety effects instead.
Additionally, much of cannabis’ tendency to cause anxiety is placed on THC. THC is another cannabinoid found in the plant. This is the substance that produces psychoactive effects, and one of its main negative side effects is the possibility of anxiety.
Cannabidiol products exist that contain little to no THC. Many cannabidiol products are made from industrial hemp, which contains 0.3% THC at its source. Most products made from industrial hemp contain even less THC, so there is very little chance that you’ll suffer any side effects based on the psychoactive chemical alone.
Alternatively, studies show cannabidiol to be a great treatment for anxiety. One study shows that CBD reduces anxiety in up to 60% of patients. Cannabidiol is often chosen as a treatment for social anxiety, too.
Won’t Smoking Cannabis Make Me Want to Smoke a Cigarette?
Many people are afraid that the habit of smoking or vaping cannabis will cause them to crave a cigarette. While there is some science to back this claim, there are ways around the problem.
The hand to mouth habit may trigger the brain in a way that results in cigarette cravings. However, there are many ways to take cannabis besides smoking it. If smoking cannabis leaves you craving a cigarette, try alternative dosing methods like edibles, tinctures, or inhalers.
Should You Try Cannabis to Quit Cigarettes?
The American Cancer Society sums up the risks of smoking tobacco pretty well. They report that almost 500,000 people in the United States die every year from illnesses related to cigarettes.
In fact, they state that “Smoking cigarettes kills more Americans than alcohol, car accidents, HIV, guns, and illegal drugs combined,” and that it can take around 11-12 years off of a person’s life. If you’re a smoker, you probably know there are many benefits to quitting.
The trend of using cannabis as a treatment for addiction is still somewhat new, but it is catching on quickly. In fact, many people are using cannabis for all types of substance abuse and chemical addiction.
Cannabidiol alone is even more popular for treating severe addiction where the psychoactive effects may not be helpful. Many people are even using cannabidiol to wean off of harsh substances, like opiates or heroin.
There is definitely adequate evidence that cannabis could help you kick nicotine for good. You may even find that it benefits your health in other areas as well.
If you are considering trying cannabis, talk to your doctor first. He or she will be able to guide you in the right direction to choose a dosing method and amount. Cannabis may be your way out of an addiction to cigarettes, with many other benefits in store for you, too.
Kat Austin is an experienced content writer and author. Driven by her appreciation for cannabis’ positive impact on her family’s health, she takes pride in creating content that promotes cannabis re-education and legalization. As a Content Manager and Author for Save On Cannabis, she works to spread truth and diminish the unfair stigma placed on the cannabis plant. By doing so, she hopes to lead more people to the age-old path of natural healing.
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