Can Cannabis Help You Quit Tobacco in the New Year?
New Year’s resolutions help us reflect on our daily habits and make a change for the better. Cannabis may serve as a valuable tool to help you establish new, healthier habits for your future self. From using weed for fitness goals to getting high before organizing the house, many people find value in incorporating cannabis into their goals. What about using cannabis to help quit tobacco, though?
January 31, 2022
It’s an interesting concept. Given many users smoke cannabis as their main method of consumption, it may be silly to consider stopping smoking by…well, smoking. But there are some good cases for its use. Let’s dive in.
First, the science
We’re going to start this off with a quick disclaimer: we don’t have definitive information to claim whether or not weed can help tobacco users quit smoking cigarettes. What we do have is anecdotal evidence and a selection of preliminary research. If you are looking to quit smoking cigarettes, you may want to discuss the process with a healthcare provider. Additionally, you will need to evaluate what will work best for you based on your specific needs.
Now on to the science. We have seen research that shows CBD may help treat nicotine addiction. While promising, this is in no way definitive. In fact, the particular study we are referencing only looked at 30 dependent tobacco users.
Researchers looked at 30 people who smoked normally or abstained from smoking cigarettes for 12 hours. They were given CBD pills or placebo pills on separate occasions.
They found that after one dose of CBD, heavy daily smokers were less drawn to smoking-related cues which tend to cause relapses (think seeing a friend smoke). Those who received CBD had a lower attentional bias to tobacco-related stimuli and rated smoking-related images as less pleasing than the placebo group.
This study is promising and highlights a need for more definitive studies on the topic. Keep in mind that it involved a small sample size and also only looked at one marijuana compound, CBD.
Now that we’ve dived a little bit into the science, we can take a look at the theories and anecdotal evidence for how cannabis can help tobacco users quit cigarettes.
Managing the withdrawals
Here’s where cannabis may shine for tobacco cessation: withdrawal management. When regular users quit using tobacco, they quickly experience nicotine withdrawal symptoms. The severity of the symptoms will vary on how strong a user’s nicotine addiction is, but tend to fade after a few days to a few weeks for most users.
Symptoms of nicotine withdrawal include:
- Cravings or urges to smoke
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleep troubles
- Anxiety, sadness, or depression
These symptoms are extremely unpleasant and are a major factor in many relapses. The feelings can get too overwhelming and users may cave in and have a smoke to put an end to the discomfort.
Most users just need a way to get through the withdrawals until they cease. If you can get through the nicotine withdrawal period without relapsing, you will have a much easier time staying tobacco-free.
So, in theory, cannabis may help users manage these withdrawal symptoms and stay nicotine free.
Take this response from a Quora query about smoking cannabis to quit cigarettes, where a user described their third day of not smoking. They had intense withdrawals that were mediated by weed.
“Feeling unable to concentrate…irritation and a creeping depressed feeling, yesterday evening I used about 30mg of potent weed. Today I had no cravings for cigs, was physically fit, and had better concentration and mood, my reasoning and functioning are not affected due to the low dose. I find that moderate use helps me a LOT.”
While anecdotal, this user’s experience mirrors what we have heard many times: marijuana may help users manage their nicotine withdrawal symptoms. It may not be for everyone, but it may be worth a shot for some.
Social aspects and urges to smoke
Social pressure to smoke is another reason some people relapse from quitting cigarettes. That doesn’t necessarily mean people are directly pressuring you to smoke, but rather being in the presence of others smoking can make it difficult to stick to your goals. Additionally, many people find it difficult to quit if they’ve been drinking. Between the lack of inhibitions from alcohol and the social aspect of being surrounded by smoke, it can be easy to cave in.
Mixing alcohol and marijuana isn’t recommended. But if you are out drinking with friends and can feel the social pressures creeping on, smoking a CBD cigarette may do the trick to curb the urge to smoke at the moment while also helping to relax your mind and body. Sticking to non-intoxicating CBD for cases like this is a good way to prevent getting crossfaded and having an unpleasant experience.
Smoking cigarettes is a ritual for many. You step outside, take some deep breaths and collect yourself, smoke, and keep your hands occupied while destressing. If you find yourself hankering for a smoke break, smoking a joint or CBD cigarette may help you to satisfy the urge without giving in to the nicotine
As we mentioned before, this is just a collection of anecdotal evidence and theories for using cannabis to quit smoking cigarettes. If you are struggling to quit your habit, you may want to talk to a healthcare provider or find another form of support to help you through the times.
There is no definitive evidence to show that cannabis can help quit nicotine, but we do have plenty of stories from folks who have shared that it has helped them on their journey. No two people are the same, though, and even though it works for some, it may not be the best choice for you. That’s for you to decide.
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