Updated October 2023
Addiction is a serious mental illness, and you don’t want it to rear its ugly head. As the popularity of CBD (cannabidiol) continues its meteoric rise due to its potential wellness benefits*, some newcomers to the CBD scene might wonder if CBD is addictive. After all, it is a close cousin of the other famous cannabinoid, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
CBD is non-psychoactive, while THC’s psychoactive properties may lead to psychological or physical dependency in some users. In this blog post, we’ll look at whether THC and CBD are addictive, as well as what CBD does to our bodies.
While one of the most common addictions is to drugs, there can be many other vices like gambling, alcohol, other addictive substances, or even food. The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines addiction as a “chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite adverse consequences.”
Simply put, you can be addicted to anything that triggers a reward or a favorable feeling. Addiction is preventable and treatable, but being addicted to something for too long can have severe mental and physical consequences.
Is THC Addictive?
THC has psychoactive effects; many use it for its euphoric, relaxing properties. This triggers the brain's pleasure centers, and prolonged use can result in some form of addiction.
The CDC (Center for Disease Control) calls cannabis addiction “marijuana use disorder” if a person cannot stop using cannabis despite it causing health and social problems.
One study found that 3 in 10 people who use cannabis can develop the disorder, and an estimated 10% of users have the likelihood of becoming addicted. The risk of addiction is higher with frequent and young users.
How THC Interacts with the Body
All mammals, humans included, have an endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a complex network comprising three components: receptors, enzymes, and endocannabinoids. THC works by interacting with the cannabinoid receptors, primarily the CB1 and CB2, which regulate various physical processes like our moods, pain perception, coordination, appetite, and sleep.
THC also causes the release of neurotransmitters in the brain that can lead to an increase in dopamine and serotonin. This causes the “feel good” euphoric effects of cannabis use that many users aim for. Read here for more information on how THC interacts with your body.
Is CBD Addictive?
CBD is another type of cannabinoid, one of over 100 cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. However, it is an entirely different compound from THC, and according to the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD products cannot contain more than 0.03% THC, which isn’t enough to produce the “high” associated with THC use.
No physical dependence on the use of CBD has been recorded in any human or animal studies. In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a statement that CBD does not have the potential for abuse or harm. WHO also recommended in 2017 that CBD not be internationally scheduled as a controlled substance.
As mentioned earlier, some full-spectrum CBD products can contain trace amounts of THC. However, on its own, CBD has no potential for abuse. Click for more information on the differences between CBD and THC.
How CBD Interacts with the Body
Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Instead, it influences the receptors indirectly and acts as a modulator, which can reduce the effects of THC.
In addition, the effects of CBD on the enzymes in the ECS can increase the levels of endocannabinoids and prolong its effects.
CBD also interacts with other receptors like serotonin, vanilloid, and TRPV1. These receptors are responsible for mood, inflammation, and pain perception.
Overall, CBD is known to help you achieve homeostasis*, which keeps your body in balance.
Potential Side Effects of CBD
CBD is considered safe by governments and world organizations. However, like any supplement, there can be a few side effects, especially in high doses.
Dry Mouth: A common side effect of CBD is dry mouth. You’re less likely to experience this if you stay well hydrated.
Dizziness: CBD can potentially drop blood pressure and cause a spell of dizziness.
Change in Appetite: Although THC can cause food cravings in a phenomenon affectionately called the “munchies,” CBD may cause a slight drop in appetite.
Tummy Troubles: Although rare, CBD can cause gastrointestinal upsets like diarrhea or changes in bowel movements.
If you experience any side effects, stop taking CBD for the time being. If you want to start CBD again, begin with a much lower dose and give your body time to adapt before gradually increasing the dose to where you need to be.
CBD and Other Drugs
CBD’s effects on the ECS and body also mean there’s a potential for drug-drug interaction. Because CBD inhibits certain enzymes, the effectiveness of other drugs that rely on those enzymes can be reduced.
If you have existing health conditions and are on medication, consult your healthcare provider before starting a CBD regimen.
In conclusion, CBD is not known to have any physical or psychological dependence risk. It doesn’t interact with our bodies the way THC does. Many countries have already legalized CBD for use, and the World Health Organization and the FDA have deemed it safe.
Ready to shop for your CBD products? At FabCBD, all our products are of the highest quality, made with organically grown hemp. From CBD oils and tinctures to gummies and lotions, we have it all!
*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.