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is cannabidiol addictive

Is Cannabidiol Addictive?

Cannabidiol, popularly known as CBD, does not appear to be addictive in comparison to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the other main component of the cannabis plant. CBD does not cause any psychoactive effects the way THC does to our brains.

is cannabidiol addictive

Studies have shown that heavy use of cannabis can increase the risk of dependence among its users. On the other hand, CBD is not addictive and preclinical studies suggest that it offers many potential benefits.

In this post, we’ll discuss why CBD is not addictive, the potential benefits it offers, as well as side effects and risks.

But before that, let’s discuss the mechanism of addiction.

How Addiction Works

According to experts, addiction is a complex physiological and psychological response to certain stimuli. It is associated with the structure and function of the brain. And, experts agree that 3 common factors influence the addictive processes.

1. Pleasure Triggers

When your brain interacts with substances such as caffeine, nicotine, or amphetamine drugs, the interaction results in an overflow of euphoric sensations. This sudden dopamine surge results in a gradual increase of interaction in the nucleus accumbens. This is within the area of the brain’s hypothalamus, which controls addictive behavior.

Scientists suggest that addiction is often dictated by a few factors such as reliability, intensity, and the rate of dopamine buildup. How a person consumes an addictive substance, whether by inhalation, taking pills, or through an intravenous procedure — can affect dopamine response.

how addiction worksCredits: Wikimedia

2. Learned Behaviors

Pleasure-seeking is another factor that contributes to addiction according to experts. They found that learned behaviors can make a user seek out an addictive substance more frequently.

Dopamine may bring about and intensify feelings of pleasure. But the activity leading up to this outpouring is even more significant. Many theories on addiction indicate that the core driver (of addiction) is the reward-related learning processes.

The processes highlight the interaction between dopamine and another essential neurotransmitter, glutamate. This interaction creates associations in the brain between feelings of pleasure and the actions that lead to them.

3. Continued Use of Certain Substances

Prolonged substance use results in the dependence on the active compounds present in many addictive substances. It involves the nerve cells located in the nucleus accumbens and prefrontal cortex.

When users start to obtain addictive substances more frequently, it often leads to less potent dopamine release. As a result, tolerance to certain substances gradually builds up.

Tolerance to drugs is perilous. Opioids and other hard drugs pose a high risk of lethal overdose.

Generally, those who try to give up the habitual use of certain substances experience life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. A user may experience:

  • nausea
  • tremors
  • vomiting
  • throbbing headache
  • pain in the bones and muscles and
  • depression

How does CBD interact with your body?

Cannabidiol or CBD is one of the 2 main components of a cannabis plant. It doesn’t have intoxicating properties found in THC, the other main component. 

Simply put, CBD won’t get you high. And it can even neutralize the psychoactive effects of THC.

CBD interacts with the main regulatory networks in your body, also known as the major receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Receptors throughout your body send signals for your brain to interpret.

This signaling by the endocannabinoid influences the functioning of your other systems and organs. This, in turn, allows the ECS to maintain your body’s chemical equilibrium or homeostasis.

CBD helps homeostasis through different routes and has more than 65 molecular targets. This explains why CBD has a wide range of applications and benefits.

When CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system, it also affects the 5-HT1A serotonin receptors. Serotonin is a vital neurotransmitter that regulates your feelings and emotions. Also, it can intensify pleasurable feelings and relaxation.

CBD inhibits the 5-HT1A serotonin receptors. It blocks the reabsorption of serotonin in the brain, which allows your body to use it more effectively.

Similarly, CBD interacts with other receptors like the TRPV1. CBD binds to their sites and blocks all signals that perceive pain. Likewise, CBD can affect the nuclear receptor PPAR-gamma, which is responsible for regulating the storage of fatty acids and glucose metabolism. 

CBD Oil and Addiction: Is CBD Addictive?

Since CBD or Cannabidiol doesn’t produce intoxicating effects, it does not appear to be addictive. The World Health Organization states that CBD is not associated with abuse potential as observed in well-controlled human experimental research.

In 2017, the Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence published an article about a study on CBD’s potential for abuse similar to placebo. Oral doses of CBD were given to frequent marijuana users and produced the same outcome as the placebo pill.

Here are some of the highlights of the study:

  • Scientists are currently considering exploring the possibilities of using Cannabidiol (CBD) as a treatment for numerous medical conditions.
  • CBD effects were not the same as the ones on THC in marijuana. Instead, it is much more similar to a placebo on all measures.
  • CBD did not exhibit a liability abuse signal on any measure.
  • A 2016 study showed that THC produces considerable physical and psychological effects. Specifically, the 31 adults in the study experienced rapid heart rate and euphoria. In contrast, CBD did not affect cognitive function, heart rate, or blood pressure in the other participants. 

Moreover, while the THC group experienced feeling sedated and euphoric, CBD has a comparable effect to placebo in terms of self-reported feelings of intoxication.

Not only is CBD a non-addictive cannabinoid, but it may also help in treating drug addiction as well. 

An initial study suggests that CBD may lower the chances of developing substance use disorders, in which the most common addictive substances are cocaine and methamphetamine. Moreover, CBD can help prevent weakening in patients after a period of detoxification and abstinence.

Further, a 2015 study presented preliminary evidence that cannabidiol reduces cigarette consumption and also treats cannabis addiction.

Marijuana-derived CBD vs. Hemp-derived CBD

Since THC can be addictive and CBD is not, it is crucial to know the difference between CBD oil sources. After all, both marijuana and hemp produce CBD oil and other CBD products.

Marijuana and hemp come from the same family of cannabis, the Cannabis sativa L. However, CBD and THC differ from each other in terms of chemical profiles and ratios.

Typically, there are significant concentrations of THC in marijuana. Thus, a marijuana-derived CBD oil has higher concentrations of THC than a hemp-derived CBD product. In contrast, hemp plants contain higher CBD levels with less than 0.3% of THC.

Since the amount of THC present in hemp plants is negligible — hemp-extracted CBD oils are not habit-forming. Additionally, CBD hemp oil and other CBD products are legal in many US states, while marijuana-derived CBD products are only legal in certain states.

CBD Oil: How is it made?

cbd oil non addictive

A fully-grown cannabis plant is turned into CBD oil and other CBD products through a whole plant extraction process. Another process involves isolating pure CBD from cannabis.

There are several variations of the whole plant extraction process. One such method is performed by soaking the plant in alcohol or other solvents. CBD oil is then collected once alcohol has evaporated.

Another plant extraction process involves using CO2 or carbon dioxide. This is a more complicated method since it requires monitoring of the various pressure and temperature controls as CO2 is injected into the plant. The cannabinoid solution then reacts to separate from the rest of the cannabis sativa plant.

CBD Can Help People with Addiction

A report by the World Health Organization suggests that CBD is a safe substance that has no abuse potential. Moreover, other studies mention its potential to assist frequent marijuana smokers to overcome withdrawal symptoms after cessation.

One such case is a 2013 neuropsychopharmacology report about a young woman with cannabis withdrawal symptoms. After a 10-day CBD treatment, the young woman experienced a significant decrease in the severity of the symptoms.

Earlier research done in 2010 tested 94 cannabis users to assess the role of THC/CBD ratios in modulating the attentional bias to drug stimuli and effects of psychoactive compounds.

According to the report, smoking high-THC strains shows a higher attentional bias to food and drug stimuli than taking high-CBD strains. The researchers further concluded that CBD derived from hemp can be an excellent treatment for substance use disorders and marijuana dependence.

A 2018 preclinical study on animals involved administering topical CBD to alcohol and cocaine-addicted rats. The study showed an effective reduction of drug use in the subjects. CBD also reduced drug addiction side effects such as impulsivity and anxiety.

Lastly, a recent study posted in the American Journal of Psychiatry suggests that CBD may also help people who have cravings linked to their addiction to heroin. Most of the participants were adults who have been heroin users for an average of 13 years.

The participants were divided into 3 groups. One group received a placebo, the other group was given 400 mg of CBD, and the remaining group was given 800 mg.

Unlike the group that received the placebo, the groups who were treated with CBD reported a decrease in their anxiety levels. Their cravings from heroin addiction withdrawals decreased as well.

Lastly, a study published in the Journal of Addictive Behaviors examined the effectiveness of CBD as a tool to reduce tobacco cigarette consumption. 

Over a week-long period, tobacco smokers treated with CBD reported a 40% decrease in the number of cigarettes smoked. On the other hand, there was no noticeable change with tobacco smokers who used the placebo.

CBD Oil and Drug Interactions

When you introduce Cannabidiol (CBD) into your body, it interacts with Cytochrome p450 (CYP450). It is a system of enzymes known to eliminate 70% to 80% of drugs from pharmaceutical medications.

Acting as an inhibitor, CBD prevents CYP450 from getting broken down and processed in the liver. Ingesting CBD is much similar to consuming grapefruit with your medication. This is because grapefruit also interacts with CYP450.

That being said, drug interactions can trigger several second-hand side effects, which wouldn’t occur when you ingest CBD alone. Thus, if you are taking prescription medications, it is best to consult your doctor before ingesting any CBD products.

Effects of CBD

Contrary to what many people think, Cannabidiol (CBD) won’t make you feel high the way THC (in marijuana) does. But rather, it has many therapeutic benefits. It can treat several medical conditions.

Cannabidiol (CBD) has seizure-suppressant and anti-inflammatory properties. It can help reduce anxiety, is an alternative treatment for epileptic seizures, and as well as help you manage your daily stress.

Here are common effects of CBD:

Might Reduce Anxiety

Recent research on CBD suggests that it may help reduce anxiety. But there seems to be some conflicting clinical evidence. And so, more clinical trials are needed to verify these findings.

In a 2017 study, a 1 mg dose of Clonazepam or 100, 300, or 900 mg doses of Cannabidiol (CBD) was given to 60 adults. These participants have no history of drug dependence, mental illness, or anxiety. They received CBD or Clonazepam doses before giving a speech.

While CBD has no physical effects, Clonazepam can reduce heart rate or blood pressure.

Interestingly, those who took CBD doses of 100 and 900 mg showed no improvement as their anxiety levels remained high. But those who took the 300 mg dose had a significant reduction in their anxiety levels before, during, and after giving their speech.

A 2019 study of the effects of CBD on adults with sleep problems and anxiety showed that 66.7% of the participants reported that their sleep quality has improved. 79.2% of the participants reported a reduction in their anxiety symptoms.

Reduces Epileptic Seizures

In a 2018 clinical trial, a daily CBD dose of 5 to 50 milligrams per kilogram of body weight (mg/kg) was given to 60 adults and 72 children. All of these participants are known to have treatment-resistant epilepsy.

The researchers noticed a reduction rate of at least 25% seizure frequency in participants during their CBD treatment.

In the same year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first pure CBD anti-seizure treatment. The FDA-approved Epidiolex (Cannabidiol) is a prescription drug used in treating rare forms of epilepsy such as Lennox-Gastuaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.

In comparison to those who took the placebo alongside other seizure medications, people with Lennox-Gastuaut and Dravet syndromes treated with Epidiolex and other seizure medications had fewer seizures.

Might Relieve Chronic Pain

A recent New Zealand-based study reviewed CBD use among 400 participants with mental health and chronic pain conditions. The study concluded that CBD use improved the participants’ quality of life.

The researchers stated that there were no significant side effects. But rather, a noticeable improvement in appetite and sleep associated with CBD use.

A 2020 study on chronic pain suggests that cannabis-based treatments can be a potential alternative to opioid-based medication for pain relief. However, most studies involve using a combination of THC and CBD. And thus, there are no recent studies that suggest CBD alone has pain management benefits.  

Still, there is emerging evidence that suggests CBD as an effective treatment for:

  • neuropathic pain
  • psychosis
  • post-traumatic stress disorder and 
  • schizophrenia

One study on animals suggests that CBD may help relieve the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. Another study implies how CBD can inhibit inflammatory and neuropathic pain, which are often hard to treat.  

Other Effects of CBD

Other potential benefits of CBD have only been observed in animals. Further studies are needed if they are also beneficial to humans, the other effects of CBD include:

  • inhibiting cancer
  • regulating the immune system
  • suppressing nausea
  • reducing inflammation, etc.

CBD Side Effects and Risks

The only FDA-approved CBD product so far is Epidiolex. However, the FDA has stated that CBD does carry some common side effects such as:

  • loss of appetite
  • drowsiness
  • dry mouth
  • liver injury
  • fatigue
  • diarrhea
  • fertility problems
  • interactions with prescription medications, illicit drugs, and alcohol


That said, one study suggests that these common side effects such as appetite changes, drowsiness, and diarrhea are less serious than those of other drug treatments for psychotic disorders and epilepsy.


How do you take CBD?

You can take CBD in many ways. You can eat it like chocolate or gummy. You can also mix CBD oil with food and drinks.

You can also create a mixture of high CBD strains of hemp and 60% to 70% alcohol. You can spray this mixture under your tongue using a dropper. Moreover, you can use it as a topical lotion, oil, or balm.

Additionally, you can take CBD with vaping. However, not all CBD products are for vaping as a majority of them must be administered orally. This poses a significant safety concern since CBD products are mostly unregulated.

What is THC?

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is one of the 2 main constituents of cannabis sativa plants. The other main constituent is Cannabidiol or CBD.

THC is one of the compounds extracted from marijuana. Specifically, it is found in the resinous secretion of the plant. It is responsible for the psychological or psychoactive effects that we get from using marijuana.

The effects of ingesting THC often start anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes. In some cases, the effects can last for a couple of hours.

Your body produces natural cannabinoid chemicals, in which THC is copying their actions in many ways. Your central nervous system has cannabinoid receptors that influence your thinking, memory, and coordination.

When you consume marijuana, THC attaches and interacts with your cannabinoid receptors. It then alters your sensory and time perception.

Likewise, THC affects your body in many ways. As you ingest THC, your brain releases the chemical dopamine. You’ll then experience a euphoric high, which you won’t get from other drugs.

THC also affects how your brain processes information, which particularly occurs in the hippocampus. It will change how you think and you may also experience hallucinations or delusions.

Risk Associated with THC

The potential risks of using THC may include:

  • Impaired motor skills that may result in catastrophic accidents
  • IQ decrease, continuing memory, and cognition problems in younger individuals
  • Dangerous interactions with other substances or medicines
  • Potential relapse in schizophrenia-associated symptoms
  • Marijuana edibles may cause THC overdose

What is Hemp?

Hemp is one of the fibrous elements of cannabis plants. The term hemp is often used interchangeably with marijuana and cannabis, which is a case of misapprehension.

One of the oldest known domesticated crops, hemp plant is widely used for the production of fabrics, rope, and other related materials. Generally, hemp is also drawn out from the stems of cannabis plants.

Cannabis sativa plants come in many different varieties, in which hemp is the non-psychoactive type. The hemp plant is derived from the same species of cannabis, alongside marijuana. Yet, their methods of cultivation, use, and chemical components differ from one another.

Hemp doesn’t contain THC, and so it doesn’t give the “high” that marijuana is known for.

Little Known Facts About CBD Hemp Oil

  • Industrial hemp and medical marijuana are both derived from the Cannabis Sativa plant.
  • Industrial or agricultural hemp has a different cultivation method than cannabis with high THC strains.
  • It’s almost impossible for hemp plants to grow with high THC products.
  • There’s an ongoing debate that industrial or agricultural CBD hemp oil and other CBD products do not violate the Controlled Substances Act.
  • CBD use doesn’t give that sense of euphoria that we get from using THC products.
  • Prescription is not necessary if you want to obtain industrial hemp-derived CBD products.

The Bottom Line: Cannabidiol (CBD) is Not Addictive

cbd products

Drug addiction is a complex brain disease. It is often accompanied by cravings for a particular addictive substance.

Many individuals often ignore the potential dangers associated with substance abuse. Addictive behaviors pose a detrimental influence on a person’s quality of life. 

Recent studies found no link between Cannabidiol and cognitive alterations. The brain is more likely to dissociate CBD from the reward system. What’s more, a person can’t get fatally overdosed with CBD, and it doesn’t cause withdrawals either.

By decreasing a person’s response to the rewarding stimuli, CBD can help with physiological addiction. Also, it can assist individuals in shaping the right habits around different activities. 

To wrap it all up, Cannabidiol (CBD) is not only non-addictive — it’s a promising tool for treating substance use disorder plus it has many therapeutic benefits. We believe more research will verify the number of preliminary evidence presented in the past years.

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