I was a cigarette smoker for over 20 years, and though I tried many times to quit, I wasn’t successful until I became pregnant. During the smoking withdrawal process, I used CBD oil to help with the transition, but I still struggled with the physical habit of the hand to mouth routine.
It is a few years later, and while I remain nicotine-free, I decided to try hemp cigarettes, or hemp rolls, as an addition to my self-care. After smoking the first one, I could not help but wonder how having access to something like this earlier on could have helped quit on the first try. Unlike CBD, which has yet to cause a death, tobacco use is associated with 4 out of 5 of the most preventable deaths every year. Luckily, the health risks begin to reduce minutes after you quit, and the likelihood of related diseases continues to diminish over time.
One of the reasons smoking cessation is complex for everyone is that mental health management is a vital part of overall success. Dr. David G. Knox tells The News Station that CBD can help with some of those negative mental health impacts, because it triggers the release of serotonin.
Nicotine releases serotonin, so some of the addiction comes from a drop in serotonin driving the craving for that next cigaretteDr. David G. Knox
Dr. Knox noted that using CBD can result in reducing the number of cigarettes and amount of nicotine exposure over time.
Preliminary findings of a small study where 24 smokers were given CBD or placebo inhalers to use when the urge to smoke arose found some promise in cigarette reduction. Those who were given the CBD inhaler saw a 40% reduction during treatment. Additionally, those subjects saw some long-term maintenance of reduction after the study.
Furthermore, CBD can help relieve short-term and long-term withdrawal symptoms associated with nicotine withdrawal, such as focus problems, appetite suppression, anxiety, and other negative impacts to your mental health. Because of the anti-inflammatory, analgesic and therapeutic properties of CBD, it can also help alleviate withdrawal symptoms like headaches, sore throats, and stomach pain, says Dr. Knox.
“Many of these symptoms are not unique to withdrawal, but CBD has been well demonstrated to help regardless of the underlying etiology of the symptoms,” Knox says, making it clear that smoking anything still carries risks.
“Combustion of hemp produces most of the same tars and carcinogens that are in cigarette smoke, and some studies show even higher amounts in cannabis smoke. Smoking cannabis can contribute to chronic bronchitis, cough, and other respiratory symptoms, as any smoke acts as an airway irritant.”
Knox says that because cannabis users don’t typically smoke 20 joints in the same way a person smokes a pack of nicotine cigarettes a day, so replacing the habit 1:1 wouldn’t be recommended or beneficial. Smoking the same amount of hemp rolls may not be recommended, but swapping them in social situations would help many smokers quit for good on the first try without the withdrawal. For me personally, the social cues were the hardest to ignore during the withdrawal process.
Whether it be a social event or at work, smoking cigarettes was an easy icebreaker. Even after being cigarette-free for a day or two, I would fold once a friend nudged me hard enough about joining them for a smoke break. The habit was both a way to create connections and repel people; the smell alone was a cause for controversy in my own life.
No matter what I tried to diffuse the scent, people in my life who were against me smoking would continuously comment on it. I spent a lot of time and effort hiding the scent from every aspect of my life, especially at family events. The hemp rolls, on the other hand, have a pleasant scent that dissipates quickly instead of settling into my clothing and furniture.
It was the smell that struck me first when I tried the hemp rolls, but subsequently marveled on how it was affecting me physically. Unlike with nicotine, I felt real relief from my anxiety and a calming impact on my body. I slept better that night and found that I consumed less cannabis after I smoked the hemp roll.
I can’t speak to how the hemp roll can help with the path to total cessation, I can only reflect on how it could have gone, but Dr. Knox says that it can help more so in the short-term than long. He says that the most success is usually through complete abstinence from the behavior long-term.
“While CBD has great potential in helping with nicotine addiction, withdrawal, and smoking cessation, one still needs to question whether continuing to smoke, albeit with a hemp roll, is really the best way. CBD can be ingested in so many other safer ways, including vaping, mucosal application of tinctures or oils, and edibles.”
More research is certainly needed, but what does exist shows promise in making an exceedingly difficult process a bit easier. There are also programs available, depending on the state, that offer free smoking cessation resources and counseling services. Before choosing to use CBD as part of your cessation plan, contact your physician to ensure safety.