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Is CBD Addictive?

Woman holding CBD lotion

If you still haven’t used a cannabidiol (“CBD”) product, I bet you know someone who has. CBD became legal more than two years ago when the 2018 Farm Bill legalized the cultivation and sale of industrial hemp and its derivatives. It is one of more than 100 chemical compounds called cannabinoids that are produced by plants in the cannabis family. But unlike marijuana, hemp has minimal amounts of THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol), the main chemical agent that makes marijuana intoxicating.

As such, CBD is nonpsychoactive, meaning it will not intoxicate you. However, the hemp extract has become incredibly popular within quite a short period for a reason; it is claimed to be full of potent medical properties. People from all over the country have since been using CBD to treat chronic pain, alleviate anxiety and depression, and treat skin conditions such as acne and psoriasis. Furthermore, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) has approved the use of a CBD formulation called Epidiolex to treat Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, two rare types of pediatric epilepsy that are extremely hard to treat.

But as CBD becomes more accessible to the public and more people turn to the cannabinoid to address several health issues, one question has echoed in the minds of the public and experts alike: is CBD addictive? With a whopping 33% of Americans claiming to have used CBD at least once in the past, how likely are regular CBD users to get addicted?

According to the limited resources available, it looks like CBD may not be addictive partly due to the fact that it does not have intoxicating effects. A small 2016 study found that, unlike THC, CBD does not produce significant physical and psychological effects such as euphoria and rapid heart rate. When the study participants reported about feelings of intoxication, CBD performed similarly to a placebo.

In fact, studies have found that cannabidiol works contrary to addiction, helping individuals with drug addiction to kick their drug habits. Preliminary studies have found that rather than being an addictive substance, such as alcohol or nicotine, CBD may be able to actually reduce the likelihood of developing a methamphetamine or cocaine-use disorder.

A 2015 systematic review of available preclinical and clinical data covering the effect of cannabidiol on addictive behaviors concluded that there’s a good chance that CBD may be able to help in the treatment of tobacco and alcohol addiction. Although there is limited research on both the benefits and risks of CBD, the cannabinoid does not appear to be addictive. However, further research is needed to be completely sure of its potential for addiction as well as its potential for treating other drug use disorders.

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