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Addiction and substance abuse inflict nearly one out of every ten Americans. The substances are largely alcohol, cocaine or opioid related. With organizations like the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) firmly asserting marijuana is addictive, it is natural to have concerns about chemical compounds derived from cannabis even if they are isolated. But marijuana and CBD aren’t the same thing. So, is CBD addictive? In short, no. CBD oil is not addictive. Here’s a look at why.
What is CBD? Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a chemical compound known as a cannabinoid. CBD is extracted from the cannabis plant. It can be extracted from either hemp or marijuana, both of which are forms of cannabis. The hemp and marijuana plants are separated because marijuana has high amounts of THC and hemp has high CBD levels.
Researchers are currently studying CBD as a treatment method for illnesses, conditions and diseases such as:
Currently our scientific understanding of CBD suggests it balances neurotransmitters in the brain. That is to say, if there is too much of one neurotransmitter, CBD will lower it and if there is not enough of another, CBD will raise it to a health level. CBD has little to no side effects.
In addition to showing promise for the treatment of the above conditions and many more, CBD is also thought to have the potential to treat addiction. Remarkably, not only is CBD is not addictive but it may be able to help people who are addicted to other substances, like opioids and cocaine, to get clean. Cannabinoids from the cannabis plant interact with our endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system helps to regulate our bodily homeostasis through the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. Our endocannabinoid system is an internal network of cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are known as CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are largely in our brain and spine (our central nervous system). CB2 receptors are primarily attached to our immune cells, with a large density of receptors in the tonsils and spleen. They typically impact our peripheral nervous system. CBD interacts with our CB2 receptors while THC interacts with our CB1 receptors.
Addictive substances trigger a release of dopamine in the brain’s pleasure centers. The body then becomes dependent on the substance and will experience withdrawal symptoms if a person stops using it. This cycle of euphoria and withdrawal leads to the user craving the drug and seeking it out compulsively even when it will result in negative consequences.
CBD is not like addictive substances because it is unable to release dopamine or get you “high.” THC, however, is connected to increased levels of dopamine. The lack of dopamine in CBD means the beloved euphoria associated with illicit drugs or the bodily relaxation that comes with nicotine are not present with CBD.
The reason addictions are called a brain disease is because over time, consistent use of a particular substance can change the structure and function of the brain. To define a substance of addiction, it must disrupt the way nerve cells in the brain send, receive and process information. Over time the consistent use of substances that raise dopamine causes the brain to produce less dopamine on its own. This forces the addict to keep using the drugs to experience happiness.
In the DSM-5 there is a term “cannabis use disorder” meaning a condition caused by the regular use of marijuana. The text defines it as “the continued use of cannabis despite clinically significant impairment, ranging from mild to severe.” However, it is solely the active ingredient in marijuana, THC, that can cause marijuana to be addictive to some. Any THC in CBD isolate is negligible and simply cannot cause addiction.
Additionally when you stop taking CBD there are no withdrawal symptoms. NIDA, an organization working to educate on addiction and drug abuse, states that “CBD appears to be a safe drug with no addictive effects, and the preliminary data suggest that it may have therapeutic value for a number of medical conditions.” For conditions like chronic cancer-related pain or spasticity related to multiple sclerosis, patients did not experience increased tolerance with long-term CBD use. However, more research is required to determine if CBD doses need to be raised with time. CBD has low-toxicity and is virtually impossible to overdose on.
Last year the World Health Organization (WHO), a United Nations agency, declared CBD is non-addictive. They explained that stating, “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential.”
So, you can see that there really is no ambiguity surrounding the possibility of becoming addicted to CBD. It’s scientifically impossible. This makes it a very safe drug to experiment with at home for virtually any illness. However, you should always speak to your physician before using pure CBD, medical marijuana or cannabis to treat any health ailment. Though CBD, marijuana, and associated compounds have medical benefits, they can interact poorly with your already existing prescription medications, herbal or dietary supplements, or over-the-counter temporary medication. Always check with medical professionals to go over the reasons why CBD or medical marijuana may or may not be right for you.