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Is CBD Addictive? Everything You Should Know


Is CBD addictive? Today, the answer to that question is clear, but it’s still a serious concern for some aspiring CBD users.

The potential addictiveness of CBD products boils down to guilt by association. We connect cannabis with THC, which, for the longest time, was treated with the same disdain as heroin or meth.

But CBD isn’t heroin, meth, or other dangerous controlled substance. So if you’re concerned that CBD could trigger dependency, we’ll explain why you have nothing to worry about.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a prominent cannabinoid found in the cannabis Sativa L. plant species – often referred to as “hemp” or “marijuana,” depending on THC content.

Although we only discovered CBD in 1940, cannabis medicine dates back 5,000 years – according to a 2009 report in the British Journal of Pharmacology.

Some legal, medical marijuana states use high-CBD strains over their hemp-derived counterparts. Still, the effects of CBD will be no different.

Despite renewed attention, CBD largely remains a mystery to researchers. Preliminary evidence using hemp-derived CBD products is promising, but there are few in-depth clinical trials. Regardless, there are many reasons to be optimistic about CBD’s therapeutic potential.

What are the Benefits of CBD Oil?

The benefits of CBD oil may be numerous, but again, a lack of research prevents any definitive answers (epilepsy being the exception).

Regardless, small studies are still often backed by a lot of anecdotal evidence. When we consider both, it paints a very compelling picture.

Here are some potential benefits of CBD oil.

May Help With Pain

For millennia, people have used extracts from the cannabis plant to relieve pain. Thanks to new technology and instant access to thousands of testimonies, we can finally investigate CBD’s potential analgesic benefits.

For example, a 2007 study in the British Journal of Pharmacology discovered that CBD is an effective anti-inflammatory and analgesic against chronic pain in rodent subjects.

Could Improve Sleep

Studies suggest CBD can help with sleep. But insomnia can have many causes, including poor mental health, stress, a sleep disorder, or other underlying condition.

Whichever the case may be, research suggests CBD helps increase sleep quality. A 2019 experiment in The Permanente Journal examined psychiatric patients who experienced anxiety or poor sleep.

About 56% of the sleep subjects reported improved sleep in their follow-up from the three-month study. However, almost 27% said their sleep had become worse.

Might Relieve Anxiety

Many cannabis users rely on THC to address anxiety symptoms. Unfortunately, the effects of THC intoxication include paranoia or anxiety. Without proper microdosing, anxiety patients may accidentally do more harm than good.

CBD, however, doesn’t affect the same endocannabinoid receptors in the brain. As a result, cannabidiol doesn’t trigger the intoxicating psychoactive effects of THC. But early data suggests CBD also can reduce feelings of tension or stress.

A 2020 review published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research examined existing clinical and pre-clinical evidence. The experts suggest that CBD can reduce anxiety in patients with SAD (social anxiety disorder) but admit we sorely lack in-depth examinations.

Potentially Stimulates Appetite

THC consumers are likely familiar with “the munchies,” which can trigger an excessive desire to eat. However, CBD offers similar benefits without inspiring you to mix ice cream with a burrito.

Medical patients can use

Janice Newell Bissex, a registered dietician who also focuses on holistic cannabis therapy, tells the Washington Post: “CBD helps relieve nausea and can calm your nervous system and digestive tract. If you feel less nauseated, you may eat more. CBD also quells pain, and feeling less pain may also boost appetite.”

Bissex also explains the difference between THC-induced “munchies” and CBD’s effects on appetite. Unlike CBD, THC can stimulate hunger regardless of how full you are. Anyone who’s used “marijuana” after eating likely wonders why they can suddenly be hungry again.

CBD’s effects are milder, relieving nausea and triggering hunger at a reasonable level.

Treats Epilepsy

Unlike the other conditions on our list, CBD’s effectiveness against severe childhood epilepsy is indisputable. This led to the creation of Epidiolex, the first and (so far) only CBD prescription drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

However, there are many other forms of epilepsy that haven’t received any research with CBD. Epilepsy patients should never replace conventional treatment unless directed by a specialist.

Many epilepsy medications – among others – can negatively interact with CBD, affecting the performance of anti-epileptic drugs. We’ll cover that in more detail later.

How Does CBD Interact with the Body?

THC and CBD work very differently. THC, for instance, binds to the brain and body’s CB1 and CB2 endocannabinoid system (ECS) receptors. Most cannabinoids interact with at least one of the CB pathways.

However, CBD doesn’t interact with either endocannabinoid receptor. Instead, CBD works by interacting with several different receptors in the brain and body.

If you’re interested in learning more, check out our blog post on how CBD works.

Is CBD Addictive?

No, CBD oil isn’t addictive. People might confuse CBD addictive due to its counterpart, THC, in how it produces psychoactive effects.

In a 2017 report, the World Health Organization concluded that “CBD is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile. Reported adverse effects may be as a result of drug-drug interactions between CBD and patients’ existing medications.”

This concern likely stems from the cannabis plant’s association with “marijuana,” which earned a negative reputation throughout most of the 20th century.

If you exclusively stick with cannabidiol derived from “hemp” or “marijuana,” you can enjoy the potential health benefits of any CBD product without worrying about (non-existent) CBD addiction.

Does CBD Oil Have Withdrawal Symptoms?

No, CBD oil doesn’t have withdrawal symptoms. Again, the WHO put their stamp of approval on CBD’s safety. However, they’re not the only ones vouching for cannabidiol.

A 2020 study in Epilepsy & Behavior examined 30 individuals taking high doses of CBD. Over six weeks, the CBD participants showed no issues abstaining from CBD.

However, keep in mind that if CBD generates results for you, those symptoms can return if you stop using the supplement.

What are the Side Effects of CBD Oil?

The side effects of CBD oil are mild. According to Dr. Peter Greenspoon, MD, you may experience some of the following after taking CBD oil:

  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

However, Greenspoon reminds us that the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate hemp-derived CBD supplements. This blind spot leaves room for mislabeling and contamination, adding another potential set of side effects.

Is It Safe to Use CBD Oil Every Day?

Yes, it’s safe to use CBD oil every day. Cannabidiol takes time to build in your system, so it’s perfectly normal not to notice anything on your first dose. Daily consumption of CBD products is reportedly the most effective way to achieve and maintain positive results.

Can You Overdose on CBD?

Yes and no. Technically, a CBD overdose is possible. But the term “overdose” has harsh connotations that don’t apply to CBD.

Perhaps the better question is, “can you take too much CBD?” The answer to this one is a lot more relevant and exciting than a simple “no.”

CBD is biphasic, meaning cannabidiol starts to lose its effectiveness once you exceed a specific dose or “sweet spot.” Consequently, the effects of CBD are often weaker in larger amounts – contrary to conventional wisdom.

At worst, consuming too much CBD will trigger some of the side effects mentioned earlier. If you exceed the recommended dose, wait 24 hours and try again with a lower amount.

“Start low and go slow” is the cannabis Sativa golden rule. Whether you use medical marijuana, hemp-derived CBD, or a combination of CBD and THC, begin with the lowest dose possible and gradually increase every few days.

Working your way up slowly reduces the chance of a CBD (or THC) overdose. If you want to learn more about taking excess CBD, look at our CBD overdose blog.

Should I Avoid CBD If I Am Recovering from Marijuana Addiction?

Despite their apparent falsehoods, propaganda like Reefer Madness and over-the-top drug PSAs cemented cannabis as a source of addiction, among other things.

While we now know those substance use claims were exaggerated, Yale Medicine warns that it’s still possible to become dependent on THC. If you consume high-THC cannabis while using CBD daily, make sure to monitor your consumption. Also, be aware of any adverse health, social, or financial consequences.

If you’re recovering from cannabis addiction, then that’s excellent news. But what’s better is that you can continue using CBD in any form without exacerbating the problem.

In short, no, you don’t have to avoid CBD if you’re recovering from addiction – it’s quite the opposite.

Studies Say CBD Could Help Fight Addiction

CBD isn’t only non-addictive. It also may have applications for those recovering from addiction.

A 2019 experiment outlined in the American Journal of Psychiatry used the FDA-approved CBD medication Epidiolex to test its effectiveness against cue-based opioid cravings.

Researchers divided subjects into placebo, 400 mg, and 800 mg groups. They then were exposed to a video depicting drug use, along with random drug paraphernalia.

The placebo group showed substantial stress and other physiological responses when presented with these cues. Initially, 800 mg of CBD was the most effective within the first 24 hours. However, by Day 7, the 400 mg CBD group took the lead by a small margin.

The experiment demonstrates CBD’s biphasic nature and opens the door to other possible uses for Epidiolex or hemp-derived CBD products.

CBD from Hemp vs. CBD from Marijuana

As we mentioned earlier, the cannabis Sativa L. plant is a single species. Therefore, cannabidiol extracts can come from “hemp” and “marijuana.” However, these terms are unscientific and used for legal purposes.

“Hemp” is cannabis with less than o.3% THC, while “marijuana” exceeds that THC threshold. In the end, it doesn’t matter where you get your CBD – as long as it’s safe, clean, and tested.

CBD vs. THC

CBD and THC may share some medicinal benefits, but the overall experience is like night and day. The advantages and disadvantages of both cannabinoids depend on your personal preference.

THC’s intoxicating effects mainly set it apart from cannabidiol, which causes no impairment or high. Many users report feeling awake and energized after consuming CBD. Some high-THC strains can also be stimulating but still negatively affect cognitive and motor skills.

From a medical perspective, THC may offer similar advantages to CBD. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, medical “marijuana” is believed to help with a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Pain
  • Nausea
  • Poor appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Inflammation

The high arguably offers a very intense and immediate medicinal effect. But while THC can bring on a heavy-hitting dose of relief, the risks are also much higher.

While CBD’s side effects are minor and usually short-lived, even a standard dose of THC can lead to unpleasant consequences. New cannabis users or those who overdose on THC report symptoms like:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Paranoia
  • Dry mouth
  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Auditory and visual hallucinations

Individuals using high-THC products should always microdose to be safe.

What Does CBD Feel Like?

It isn’t easy to concisely define what CBD feels like. If you look at testimonies and reviews, you’ll find all kinds of descriptions.

Recently, we came across a meme calling CBD “diet weed.” At face value, it’s just a joke. However, considering “weed” refers to high-THC cannabis, the broad analogy contains a nugget of truth.

The effects of CBD vary depending on the product, dosage, individual needs, and biological factors (to name a few). But ultimately, CBD’s main selling points are the comparable benefits to THC, along with no intoxication.

We can – and do – say more about the CBD experience. If you want to get a deeper look into what CBD feels like, our blog post offers helpful information for new and experienced CBD fans.

CBD & Drug Interactions

The human body reacts well to CBD. But the supplement is far from benign if you take certain medications.

In a January 2021 article, Harvard Health Publishing provided an updated list of 57 known medications that can’t combine with CBD. These included several anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) and some heart medicines, antibiotics, and other medicines.

Some negative interactions can cause damage to the liver or even lead to life-threatening complications. Don’t try CBD oil or any other CBD product without first consulting your doctor.

If you’re concerned about CBD causing issues with your prescriptions, read our blog post on CBD and medication interactions, including a list of prescription medications CBD may interact with. It’s an excellent resource to make your CBD journey safer.

Conclusion: Why CBD Is Not Addictive

CBD isn’t addictive for a variety of reasons. It doesn’t directly interact with endocannabinoid receptors or any pathways that can trigger psychological or chemical addiction.

Not only is CBD not addictive, according to the World Health Organization and some human trials, but it can also help individuals recovering from substance use disorders or addictions.

Sources

Bykov, K. P. (2021, January 11). CBD and other medications: Proceed with caution. Harvard Health. Retrieved October 19, 2021, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cbd-and-other-medications-proceed-with-caution-2021011121743

Cannabis/Marijuana Use Disorder. (2021, June 24). Yale Medicine. Retrieved October 19, 2021, from https://www.yalemedicine.org/conditions/marijuana-use-disorder

Costa, B., Trovato, A. E., Comelli, F., Giagnoni, G., & Colleoni, M. (2007). The non-psychoactive cannabis constituent cannabidiol is an orally effective therapeutic agent in rat chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain. European Journal of Pharmacology, 556(1–3), 75–83. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejphar.2006.11.006

Grinspoon, P., MD. (2021, September 24). Cannabidiol (CBD)-what we know and what we don’t. Harvard Health. Retrieved October 19, 2021, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cannabidiol-cbd-what-we-know-and-what-we-dont-2018082414476

Hurd, Y. L., Spriggs, S., Alishayev, J., Winkel, G., Gurgov, K., Kudrich, C., Oprescu, A. M., & Salsitz, E. (2019). Cannabidiol for the Reduction of Cue-Induced Craving and Anxiety in Drug-Abstinent Individuals With Heroin Use Disorder: A Double-Blind Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial. American Journal of Psychiatry, 176(11), 911–922. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2019.18101191

Pertwee, R. G. (2006). Cannabinoid pharmacology: the first 66 years. British Journal of Pharmacology, 147(S1), S163–S171. https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.bjp.0706406

Rosenbloom, C. (2019, January 9). Marijuana gives you the munchies. What about CBD? Washington Post. Retrieved October 19, 2021, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/marijuana-gives-you-the-munchies-what-about-cbd/2019/01/07/7a793076-0ebc-11e9-8938-5898adc28fa2_story.html

Shannon, S. (2019). Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series. The Permanente Journal, 23. https://doi.org/10.7812/tpp/18-041

Taylor, L., Crockett, J., Tayo, B., Checketts, D., & Sommerville, K. (2020). Abrupt withdrawal of cannabidiol (CBD): A randomized trial. Epilepsy & Behavior, 104, 106938. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yebeh.2020.106938

World Health Organization. (2017, November). Cannabidiol (CBD) Pre-Preview Report. Expert Committee on Drug Dependence -39th Meeting. https://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/5.2_CBD.pdf

Wright, M., di Ciano, P., & Brands, B. (2020). Use of Cannabidiol for the Treatment of Anxiety: A Short Synthesis of Pre-Clinical and Clinical Evidence. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, 5(3), 191–196. https://doi.org/10.1089/can.2019.0052





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