Is CBD Oil (Cannabidiol) Addictive?

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on March 27, 2020

More and more people are talking about CBD (cannabidiol) oil lately, and it’s been FDA-approved for a variety of medical uses. While CBD is derived from cannabis plants, people turn to this substance for a variety of medical reasons and not to get high.

Is CBD Oil Addictive?

Typically, CBD is used to treat symptoms of anxiety, pain, seizures, or insomnia, and many people can purchase CBD oil in stores without a prescription.

The question is, since CBD oil comes from the same plants that people use to get high, is CBD oil addictive? To answer this question, it’s necessary to understand what CBD is and how it works.

What Is CBD Oil?

CBD is derived from hemp plants, and it typically contains little to no THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), or the main addictive chemical found in marijuana and substances derived from this plant.

According to federal law, the THC content in CBD oil must be less than .3 percent. To put this in perspective, the marijuana that people smoke to get high can contain anywhere from about 5 percent to 30 percent THC.

This ratio level is similar to non-alcoholic beer. Even non-alcoholic beer contains a trace amount of alcohol.

When looking into the addictive potential of CBD oil, it’s important to understand both how the body, as well as the mind, react to the substance.

Can CBD Oil Be Addictive?

Many people wonder if this substance is addictive because there are a wide range of medical uses for CBD oil as well as benefits of CBD oil. Some people turn to CBD oil to treat their anxiety, depression, chronic pain, muscle spasms, seizures, and much more.

One of the concerns people have is that the opioid epidemic in the country is a clear example that not everything that’s used for medicinal purposes is safe. So, is CBD oil addictive?

The short answer is no, CBD oil is not technically addictive, but there are still some risks of using CBD oil.

When talking about addictive substances, the substances are often tested to see how they affect a person on a molecular level.

According to a study from 2017 that was published by the Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence, there weren’t any signals of abuse liability for the use of CBD oil.

They tested this by giving various dosages of CBD to people who frequently smoke marijuana compared to a placebo.

When looking at substances like alcohol or drugs like opioids, there are chemical hooks that can make you physically dependent on the substance.

As you continue drinking or using drugs like opioids, your body will go into a state of withdrawal when you try to quit or when you run out of the substance.

With CBD oil, there’s no evidence of physical withdrawal symptoms unless a person uses an excess amount of CBD on a regular basis. Although the physical addictive potential of CBD oil is extremely low, it’s important to discuss the risks of a psychological dependence.

The Benefits Of CBD Oil Use

Aside from helping with chronic pain and different mental illnesses, there are also people who have turned to CBD as a way to come off other substances, like alcohol.

One of the reasons CBD oil can help people who have addictions to more serious substances is because it helps to treat the underlying issues which lead people drink or use harder drugs in the first place.

Many people drink or use drugs to get a feeling, to get rid of a feeling, or to have an escape. For example, if someone is self-medicating an anxiety disorder with alcohol, CBD oil may help.

Through taking CBD oil, the person may stave off cravings for alcohol as their anxiety begins to get under control.

Risks Of CBD Oil Use

Although there’s an extremely low potential for addiction to CBD oil, it’s important to discuss the possibility of psychological dependence.

The human brain is designed to help you survive and become more efficient. Based on what we know about context-dependent learning, you can develop a psychological dependence to anything.

This is why there are people who develop addictions to activities such as gambling, shopping, and eating. Although these are not technically addictive substances, they can cause a person’s life to become unmanageable.

It’s possible for the brain to develop a psychological dependence to CBD oil based on something known as the habit loop. The habit loop consists of a trigger, a behavior, and a reward.

So, if you turn to CBD oil every time your anxiety is triggered, and it gives you relief, your brain is laying down a memory that this is the solution to anxiety.

If you were using CBD oil for a long time and ran out, you may notice some psychological symptoms of withdrawal because your brain would want you to turn to the behavior of using CBD oil.

While there wouldn’t be physical symptoms of withdrawal, you may experience more anxiety, symptoms of depression, and irritability.

How To Find A Professional Addiction Treatment Program

CBD oil is helping millions of people in the United States alone. Again, the addiction potential of this substance is extremely low, but it’s good to be armed with facts about the substance.

There are many positive medical purposes for CBD oil, and it can also help with your mental health.

However, if you’ve developed a problem with CBD oil or any other substance, allow us to assist you. We have a team of treatment specialists, and we can help you find a rehab center that’s right for you, so give us a call today.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on March 27, 2020
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