I love smoking cigarettes. Not that I do anymore. Like other toxic relationships, I’ve let this one go. Quitting cigs is hard though. Just like it can be hard to leave that relationship that is no longer working.
Ask anyone who smokes or has tried to quit or who has successfully quit. Quitting smoking sucks. Some will say it’s the hardest thing they’ve ever done in their lives. I agree…and I’ve faced some seriously hard shit. On my third attempt (third time’s a charm) though, I did things a little different.
I used CBD to quit smoking.
And it pretty much worked like magic.
My Personal Story of Using CBD to Quit Smoking
As a freelance writer, one of my steady gigs has been writing about weed. A few months before I quit smoking I wrote an article about how CBD can help smokers kick the habit. Intrigued, I thought I’d try it when I was ready to quit.
Not long after this, my mother was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. And I knew I had to quit. Like yesterday.
I invested in a vape pen and some CBD oil. Rather than quit cold turkey, I decided I’d cut down. I’d already cut down considerably and was only smoking like four cigs a day at this point. But I was still smoking every day. What smoker wants to give up that morning cig with their coffee? What smoker really wants to quit?
I started vaping CBD and continued to smoke 3-5 cigs a day. I wasn’t vaping CBD consistently at first, but then began to take my quest more seriously. That whole Stage IV lung cancer thing wasn’t ever far from my mind. I knew I wasn’t immune, and if I really wanted to quit, I really needed to make an effort to do so.
I began vaping when I’d get the urge for a cigarette, but still allowed myself to smoke. It was maybe a week or two in to vaping consistently that I started to notice a shift in my smoking habits. It would be 2 or 3 in the afternoon and I would realize I’d only had like one cig all day.
And then “that” day came. Where I decided to not buy another pack of organic American Spirits. The quit day that I hadn’t necessarily planned on, but whose time had obviously come.
A neighbor gave me an emergency stash of nicotine patches just in case, and I took the plunge. Like my other attempts at quitting, the first few days sucked. But they were somehow more bearable than before. I wondered how much the CBD had to do with it…this time seemed so different. Hard yes. But not as hard. On the seventh day, I got to find out firsthand.
It was a Sunday, early afternoon and my vape pen needed charging. I hadn’t hit it all day and felt I could really use it. I ended up shattering the glass piece before I could charge it…and had no CBD all day long.
I was a fucking basket case.
All my other quit attempts came rushing back to haunt me. I got angry. I cried. It subsided. Then came on worse. I cried. And cried. I found myself growing (extremely) depressed, irritated, anxious, full of negative self-talk and destruction. At one point I remember thinking I’d rather just keep smoking and risk getting sick than feel like I did.
I didn’t cave though.
The next day I went and bought a replacement piece for my vaporizer. My entire outlook on life changed.
CBD has been life-changing in my attempt to quit smoking cigarettes. I know it’s not easy. But it doesn’t have to be as hard as it has all the other quit attempts. I get it. I smoked for 27 years and might still if it didn’t have the potential to kill me. Naw, probably not. But still. You feel me, smokers?
How CBD Works for Smoking Cessation
While there have been several studies on how CBD could be beneficial for addiction, one particular research project focused solely on cigarettes. Led by Dr. CJ Morgan, a member of the Clinical Pharmacology Unit at the University College of London, results of the study were published in the journal Addictive Behaviors in 2013.
For the randomized, double blind placebo-controlled study, 24 smokers were chosen at random and split into two groups of 12 people each. Each smoker was given a vaporizer and instructed how to use it. They were instructed to use it every time they had an urge to smoke a cigarette over the period of one week. They weren’t instructed however, to try to quit or reduce the number of cigarettes they smoked during this time. All they were told to do was use the vaporizer when they had an urge to smoke a cig.
At the end of the week, the group that received the placebo showed no difference in the number of cigarettes they smoked. The group that received CBD in their vaporizer however, reduced the number of cigarettes they smoked by almost 40 percent. This was all achieved without even telling the smokers to try to cut down.
Morgan believes it’s because of the way CBD affects the memories (or triggers) that hold the desire to smoke.
“We found that CBD seems to reduce the salience of cues,” noted Morgan. “It also can reduce anxiety and may affect a memory process called ‘reconsolidation,’ which is where when a memory of the reward of smoking is re-activated by seeing someone smoking, it is rendered vulnerable to destruction.”
While I’m sure this has a lot to do with it, something I couldn’t stop thinking about was CBD’s ability to increase serotonin production in the brain. It’s believed that smoking cigarettes can deplete serotonin levels by 50 percent. Research has shown that it takes about three weeks to replace lost levels of serotonin after quitting smoking.
CBD is considered a 5-HT1A agonist. 5-HT1A is a subtype of the serotonin receptor, and one of its main functions is the inhibition of fear and anxiety. Among other things, it also inhibits the neurotransmitter cortisol, which is positively connected to stress.
CBD has shown to bind with 5-HT1A, which causes the receptor to produce an effect on the cell. Activation of this receptor allows CBD to have the same effect as actual serotonin molecules. This is why CBD shows such promise for anxiety and depression.
I believe CBD plays a crucial role in bringing back natural balance to the brain and leveling out serotonin levels that have been depleted by smoking. It’s also shown to increase the synthesis and release of serotonin.
Can CBD Help You Quit Smoking Cigs for Good?
Quitting smoking is one of the hardest things a smoker will have to do. Let’s keep it real. Some even say its as hard to quit as heroin. I know that for me, cigarettes were my crack. I’m an extremely conscious person and am very aware of what I put in my body and the products I use. But when it comes to cigarettes, forget about it.
CBD helped me quit smoking like nothing ever did in the past. I’ve tried cold turkey, the patches, and even went on Wellbutrin for a short period of time, even though I’m adamantly opposed to pharmaceutical medicine. Nothing worked like vaping CBD.
If you’re interested in quitting smoking, CBD could hold the potential to be exactly what it takes to help you do so. I don’t think it’s a miracle, but for me it’s been pretty damn close.