Is CBD addictive?

by Tim W. Shaw September 25, 2020

Is CBD addictive

CBD is not addictive. However, because CBD is associated with cannabis, some will assume that it has the potential for addiction. But, numerous small-scale studies have demonstrated no potential for abuse or dependence in humans.

While more research is required to gain a full understanding of precisely how CBD interacts with the human body, the World Health Organization has also found it to be non-addictive:

“In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential”

What does the research say?

mother and child

research review took place in 2011 to investigate the safety and side effects of cannabidiol. They found that even large daily measures appear to be well-tolerated in humans. Overall, they concluded: “controlled CBD may be safe in humans and animals.”

Later in 2016, a study was conducted in which regular measures of CBD were taken orally and the effects were compared to those of illegal cannabis. None of the participants who were given the CBD exhibited any signs that it had the potential for abuse. The study concluded that; “CBD did not display any signals of abuse liability”.

As well as the studies that directly investigated any addictive properties of CBD, hundreds of others have taken place using regular daily amounts with no significantly harmful or addictive effects. Consequently, general acceptance is that CBD is not addictive.

Why isn’t CBD addictive?

Although it’s not completely clear why CBD isn’t addictive, some scientists think that it may be linked to how it interacts with your nervous system. CBD doesn’t bind directly to chemical receptors in your cells and tissues, instead, it influences the behaviour of enzymes found near the receptors.

Other substances that do bind directly exhibit some forms of addiction. It’s possible that only substances capable of doing this have the potential to develop symptoms of dependence.

The role of THC in CBD products

CBD vs THC

THC is another substance found in cannabis plants; it’s intoxicating and likely to cause addiction in a small proportion of users. Most CBD products will contain some trace of THC. Despite claims of ‘THC free’ and ‘zero THC’, most manufacturers are unable to completely remove it from the hemp extract used in CBD production. Even lab tests can only detect substances up to a point, so if no THC is detected it’s still likely to be present in trace amounts.

Even though a 2011 study found that 8.9% of cannabis users developed signs of addiction, traces of THC in CBD products won’t have the same effect. A survey of UK cannabis users found that dependence is likely to be only produced by high levels of THC and that: “use of low-potency cannabis is not associated with dependence”.

During farming and manufacture, numerous steps are taken to reduce the THC content of CBD products. By the time a product is ready to be sold, it must hold less than 1mg per container to be legal. Not only are low levels of THC considered to be non-intoxicating and non-addictive, they may also interact with CBD to play a role in its beneficial effects. 

The entourage effect theory indicates that taking CBD alongside other substances like cannabinoids or terpenes may enhance its impact. In some studies, when taken with other cannabinoids, including THC, scientists were able to increase the potency of its results beyond those achieved with pure CBD.

If I stop taking CBD will I experience withdrawal?

hemp plant

CBD interacts with your body in a way that is unique to you, however, it’s never been observed to produce addiction or withdrawal.

To discover the experiences of real consumers we contacted the editors of the UK’s foremost independent CBD websites. We asked if they ever experience withdrawal or any negative effects from stopping regular CBD use:

Jack from High & Polite

I might miss the feeling of calm after a long day, but no negative effects from stopping use. 

At CBD4Beginners, Paul had no trouble stopping for four months:

No, to be honest, I haven’t. The longest I’ve gone for without any CBD is around 4 months, luckily it wasn’t a particularly stressful time of my life so I didn’t feel I needed it as much but I certainly didn’t feel any side effects after stopping.

Herbert Maxwell from Herb Reviews enjoys the general benefits of CBD but has never felt any withdrawal:

Because I try lots of different products, I’m often stopping and starting them. I’ve never noticed any sensations or negative impact from not taking CBD other than the absence of its benefits.

Conclusion

CBD is a useful and non-addictive plant substance with no potential for “abuse or dependence”. Those who consume it regularly don’t report any experiences of withdrawal and find it easy to stop and start regular use when necessary.

Most CBD products will contain a small amount of THC but at these levels it may add to the beneficial effects and won’t produce symptoms of dependence.

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Tim W. Shaw
Tim W. Shaw

Author

Tim W. Shaw writes extensively about CBD oil, cannabis and other groundbreaking food supplements. He and his wife share their home with two daughters and a lifetime’s collection of books.


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