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December 30, 2021

Is Cannabidiol Addictive?

Hundreds of millions of individuals around the world suffer from addiction to everything from caffeine to illicit drugs. With cannabidiol’s rise in popularity, and millions of users enjoying the benefits of this supplement, some have concerns about whether or not CBD is addictive, or has the potential for form an addiction.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of over 100 naturally occurring cannabinoids that can be isolated from the Cannabis Sativa plant. More commonly, CBD is extracted and isolated from industrial hemp.

This 21-carbon terpenophenolic compound is formed as a result of cannabidiolic acid decarboxylation, a naturally occurring metabolic process in the Cannabis plant.

Given CBD’s widespread use, research and clinical studies have sought to assess the compound’s abuse liability and potential to form dependence (addiction).

In this guide, we explore how addiction is classified, signs to look out for, how CBD works, the pathways in which one could argue whether or not it is addictive or may contribute to addiction, and more.

Is CBD Addictive?

Short Answer: NO

What is Addiction?

Addiction is a chronic illness that is characterized by an inability to control, compulsive and/or excessive use of a substance or action (such as gambling), despite this use or action having negative consequences on their life or the lives of others.

Although the use of everything from energy drinks, to alcohol and cannabis that contains THC is voluntary, the use of some substances alters brain chemicals and structures, ‘re-wiring’ the reward systems in our brain to crave the substance.

What Clinical Research Says About Cannabidiol and Addiction

Current scientific and clinical evidence suggests that while cannabis use does increase the risk of addiction and dependence in some people, cannabidiol does not.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), human and animal studies looking at the ‘dependence potential’ and found that studies investigating this potential found that there was no link between CBD and addiction or substance dependence.

Some studies have even yielded results demonstrating that CBD has the potential to treat addiction (more on this further below).

Why Isn’t CBD Addictive, But THC Is?

Many consumers don’t realize that the molecular structure of CBD is the same as that of THC. Chemically speaking, each cannabinoid is comprised of 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms and 2 oxygen atoms.

However, it is the arrangement of these atoms that is responsible for the vast difference in effects when each acts on our body’s own endocannabinoid system (ECS).

What Happens When Someone Takes THC or Uses Marijuana?

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) interacts with the endocannabinoid system to influence a variety of physiological processes. Specifically, it causes the release of neurotransmitters, including those that activate the brain’s reward circuit.

This reward system motivates an individual to repeat the behavior that caused it to fire up, in this case, the use of THC. Continued use results in neurological adaptations in the brain that contribute to more frequent use.

What Happens When Someone Takes CBD or Uses Hemp?

Similar to THC, CBD interacts with CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system. However, unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive and does not produce a euphoric ‘high’ that marijuana is known for.

This lack of psychoactive effects is what makes CBD a non-addictive substance. While CBD is responsible for a wide range of physiological effects, these effects are largely ‘unfelt’, meaning that they don’t physically or psychologically affect the brain’s reward system in a meaningful way.

Echoing the findings of the World Health Organization, a study published in the Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence (2017), revealed that CBD did not have a notable effect on blood pressure, heart rate, cognition or feelings of euphoria and a lack of psychological and physical effects.


Could Someone Become Addicted to CBD?

Although physically and psychologically CBD doesn’t produce a ‘high’ or euphoria, it does have the reported ability to elicit a sense of calm, feelings of relaxation, and even sedation. It is possible that individuals may find that they need (either psychologically, to reduce stress, fall asleep easier, etc.) CBD to achieve a better quality of life. This in itself could become a ‘crutch’ or a mental addiction. However, current research suggests that cessation of CBD would not cause any withdrawal symptoms.

CBD May Aid In Combating Addiction

Cannabidiol isn’t addictive, but better than that, it may be useful in combating dependence and addiction.

Although more research is needed, a study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse (2015) looked at existing clinical studies and research on CBD and addiction, identifying 14 eligible studies to evaluate the use of CBD for addiction.

The results of this meta-analysis indicated that there is evidence to support the use of CBD for both tobacco and cannabis addiction, and that other therapeutic properties of CBD may indirectly be useful to combat other addiction disorders.

Is Cannabidiol Addiction: Bottom Line

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a supplement regularly used by tens of millions of individuals. This naturally occurring cannabinoid is purported to help support overall health, wellness and quality of life in a multitude of ways.

Although research regarding other aspects of CBD is in its still ongoing, the current library of clinical studies and scientific research has concluded that CBD does not pose a risk of dependency, substance abuse or addiction. In fact, in some cases, CBD may aid in combating addiction from various substances.

If you have concerns about CBD being addictive, rest easy knowing that the World Health Organization has concluded that CBD is generally safe, well-tolerated, and does not have a potential for abuse or addiction on its own.

This is in stark contrast to it’s related cannabinoid, THC.

Not sure if CBD is right for you? One of your best resources is your primary care practitioner, who can help advise and monitor CBD use.

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This product is not for use by or sale to persons under the age of 18. The statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All information presented here is not meant as a substitute for or alternative to information from health care practitioners. Please consult your health care professional about potential interactions or other possible complications before using any product. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act require this notice. PLEASE NOTE: Zero THC is defined as (0.0%) no detectable THC, as supported by our lab testing.

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