People use CBD oil for a variety of reasons, including pain relief, anxiety, and more. One of the common questions people ask about CBD oil is whether it’s addictive. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound in the cannabis plant extracted from the flowers and buds of the hemp plant, which technically isn’t marijuana.
It’s available to purchase online, but because some full-spectrum CBD products contain THC (the chemical that gives you a “high”), it’s important to know your state’s law before purchasing it.
What is CBD oil?
Cannabis is a plant with hundreds of active chemicals, but the most abundant and best known of these is THC. THC is the psychoactive chemical in cannabis, so it’s the one that causes the “high” that users experience. Before 2014, almost all cannabis sold in the United States contained THC.
However, a federal farm bill signed into law earlier this year legalized industrial hemp, which is cannabis with a THC level of 0.3% or less. The Farm Bill also allowed for the sale of hemp-derived CBD oil, which is a non-psychoactive derivative of cannabis that may have health benefits for people suffering from conditions such as chronic pain.
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a phytocannabinoid derived from the cannabis plant. It’s one of the many cannabinoids found in cannabis and accounts for 40% of the plant’s extract. CBD is one of over 100 compounds in cannabis that belong to the cannabinoid family. Most of the cannabinoids are found in the cannabis plant, but some also occur naturally in other plants, such as Echinacea.
How much might CBD exert benefits? The human body has an endocannabinoid system, or ECS, that receives and translates signals from cannabinoids in the body. CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system in a way that may positively impact sleep, mood, and appetite. There’s some evidence that CBD reduces pain, too, although research is still in its early stages, and much of the evidence is more anecdotal than supported by clinical studies, although preliminary studies look promising.
At the current time, a prescription form of CBD oil is approved by the FDA to treat several types of epilepsy or seizures.
Is CBD oil addictive?
CBD is not addictive. In fact, some research suggests it may reduce addictive behaviors and patterns, including gambling addiction. People who are genuinely addicted to pain pills and other opioids often find relief when they use CBD oil. It also decreases drug withdrawal symptoms from people who are addicted to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) drugs like methadone and buprenorphine.
But there is still a small possibility that it could be addictive for some people, especially those who have a history of substance abuse or other mental health issues that include addiction. This is because CBD oil might trigger separation anxiety or flashbacks in more vulnerable populations of users.
The risks of CBD oil addiction are similar to the risks of addiction from other substances, like tobacco or alcohol. For example, just like you can develop an addiction to alcohol or cigarettes by using them frequently and heavily over time, you can also develop a tolerance to CBD and then feel you need more and more over time to feel its effects.
For some people, CBD oil might trigger emotional issues or memories related to substance abuse since it affects the brain in so many ways. This may lead them to think they have developed an addiction when they just need to stop using it for a while and to seek help with coping with stress or other sources of their self-medication.
There is also a small risk that certain medications, like anti-seizure medications, could interact with CBD oil and make you dependent on its continued use.
What are the side effects of CBD oil?
Some possible side effects of CBD oil include:
- Dry mouth
- Lack of appetite
- Reduced or distorted senses of taste and smell (such as anorexia)
- Sleepiness or unusual tiredness
- Weight loss or weight gain
It may also interact with some medications and other supplements, so it’s important to be cautious if you’re taking prescription medications. Talk to your doctor first. Some studies in mice show that high doses of CBD oil are linked with liver injury, but other research shows, at a reasonable dose, it may be beneficial for some liver conditions such as fatty liver diseases and liver cancer.
CBD oil is classified as a nutritional supplement and it is not regulated by the FDA like pharmaceutical medications. Therefore, you don’t know if what you’re buying contains the amount of active CBD advertised.
The bottom line
There are many myths about CBD, however, CBD oil is not addictive and may even be beneficial for people who have addictions to other drugs. But there’s still a lot more to learn about CBD and its effect on the human body, so talk to your physician before using it.
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- “Cannabidiol (CBD) — what we know and what we don’t ….” 24 Aug. 2018, health.harvard.edu/blog/cannabidiol-cbd-what-we-know-and-what-we-dont-2018082414476.
- “Hemp Production and the 2018 Farm Bill – 07/25/2019 | FDA.” 25 Jul. 2019, fda.gov/news-events/congressional-testimony/hemp-production-and-2018-farm-bill-07252019.
- “CBD: Safe and effective? – Mayo Clinic.” mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/is-cbd-safe-and-effective/faq-20446700.
- “Is CBD Good or Bad for Your Liver? | CFAH.” 04 Jan. 2021, cfah.org/cbd-and-liver/.