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Is CBD Addictive?

It’s commonly known that CBD has absolutely exploded in popularity over the last few years. And on top of that, hemp-based CBD is legal throughout the entire United States thanks to the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill. The one catch to that law is that all CBD that’s made from hemp must contain no more than 0.3% THC. While most people know quite a bit about CBD, those who are new to it have some questions. One of the most common questions among new users is whether CBD can be addictive. So is CBD addictive? Let’s look first at how addiction works.

Understanding How Addiction Works

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Addiction is a very complex reaction to external stimuli. Most scientists believe that it’s caused by changes in the structure and function of the brain, while psychologists and addiction experts believe that pleasure sensations, learned behaviors, and lengthy exposure to various substances can kick off the process of addiction.

What are Pleasure Sensations?

Pleasure sensations happen when the brain comes into contact with things like caffeine, nicotine, or illegal drugs and some prescription medications. These substances flood the brain with neurotransmitters like dopamine that cause a wave of pleasurable sensations. This sudden flood of neurotransmitters creates a buildup in an area of the brain’s hypothalamus that has an important part to play in the addiction process. According to scientists, addiction depends on how fast, reliable, and intense the dopamine buildup is. Moreover, dopamine response is impacted by whether the substance is smoked, swallowed in pill form, or injected intravenously. 

What Role do Learned Behaviors Play in the Addiction Process?

Scientists believe that learned behaviors can cause people to religiously seek out dangerously addictive substances. So, while dopamine creates and fortifies pleasure triggers, the actions that preface the release of the neurotransmitter may be of more importance.

There are some who think that the cycle of addiction boils down to a reward-related learning process. Therefore, the scientific breakdown of this cycle looks like the neurotransmitters dopamine and glutamate working in conjunction with each other. When this happens, dopamine and glutamate force the brain to associate feelings of pleasure with the specific activity that led right up to them being released.

What Happens When People are Exposed to Specific Substances for a Lengthy Period of Time?

When you’re regularly using specific substances, you will trigger the nerve cells in the brain to become dependent on those substances to activate them. People who are addicted frequently seek out and use substances more and more because the experiences of using become less profound or intense over time. To put it more plainly, they have built up a tolerance to the substance and must use more of it more frequently in order to feel the “high” they are looking for.

Drug tolerances are extremely dangerous because they can lead to an eventual lethal overdose of a substance like opioids. When someone who’s addicted tries to quit “cold turkey,” they may experience withdrawal symptoms like headaches, bone and muscle pain, vomiting, shaking, irritability, or nausea.

What is CBD and How Does it Work with the Body?

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CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of two major cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. While CBD doesn’t have any psychoactive properties, THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the second major cannabinoid, can cause you to feel “high” when taken in large quantities. Scientists think that when CBD and THC are paired together that they bring about a phenomenon called the entourage effect where they boost up each other’s positive aspects while dampening negative ones. 

CBD, THC, and around 100 other cannabinoids can be found in the hemp and marijuana plants, which are both varieties of the cannabis plant. Every human and animal has an endocannabinoid system that’s responsible for helping to regulate body functions and systems. Cannabinoids like CBD and THC interact with the receptors in the endocannabinoid system, or ECS, which works to bring the body back into a state of balance, or homeostasis. 

CBD and Addiction: Is CBD Addictive?

Unlike THC, CBD will not evoke feelings of euphoria. Additionally, scientists don’t believe that it can be addicting. Nor do they think that anyone can become hooked on THC. Addiction experts believe that over 90% of marijuana users will never become addicted to THC, and that the remaining percentage of people will deal with bad habits that have been formed around it. 

Hemp-Derived CBD vs Marijuana-Based CBD

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As we said earlier, CBD is extracted from both the hemp and the marijuana plants, which are both varieties of the Cannabis Sativa plant. Both hemp and marijuana have very different chemical profiles and THC levels. Marijuana is abundant in THC, so CBD products that are created from the marijuana plant will naturally have a significant amount of THC in them. Products derived from marijuana could absolutely cause you to feel “high.” 

Conversely, when CBD products are created from hemp, they won’t cause anyone to feel a euphoric “high” sensation. This is because the hemp plant has been bred to contain very low levels of THC. In fact, if you want to get technical, the hemp plant usually contains 0.3% or less THC, and much higher levels of CBD. 

All CBD products made from the hemp plant are both not addictive and federally legal. Marijuana’s legality, however, is a different story. Even though the federal government says marijuana-based CBD products aren’t legal, each state has different laws in effect regarding the legality of medicinal and/or recreational marijuana products. 

While most all marijuana-derived products can be bought in state-regulated dispensaries, you can pretty much find hemp-derived CBD products anywhere — from the local brick and mortar store down the street, to vape shops, some pharmacies, and of course, online. And while it’s easy to take a drive to the nearby CBD store, we recommend that you buy your CBD online from a trusted and respected brand because shopping online affords you the time you’ll need to do whatever research you want to do. 

Can You Overdose on CBD and are there Any Side Effects Linked to it?

Scientists have established the safety of CBD through research studies that have been published online and in journals. However, there are a few minor side effects that have been linked to CBD. 

Some of these minor side effects include: 

  • Dry Mouth
  • Nausea
  • Sleepiness
  • Diarrhea
  • Changes in Appetite
  • Decrease in Blood Pressure

The reason that scientists say you can’t overdose on CBD is because it doesn’t impact the brain stem area. This is important because the brain stem area is what controls your breathing. 

Can CBD Negatively Interact with Other Drugs?

If you’re on any other supplements or prescription medications, then you should talk with your primary care doctor or prescribing physician before beginning a CBD regimen. In particular, if you’re on any medications that contain a “grapefruit warning,” then you should know that CBD can have the same impact as citrus fruits on these types of drugs. 

CBD and Drug Interactions: Talk to Your Doctor

CBD interacts with the human body by working with your body’s Cytochrome p450 system that’s responsible for metabolizing different components in pharmaceutical medications. CBD, like grapefruits or grapefruit juices, can block Cytochrome p450 by stopping it from processing medications in the liver. 

This can ultimately lead to a host of secondary side effects that include too much of your prescription medication entering into your bloodstream. If you are on prescription medications, just to be safe, you should touch base with your doctor before even thinking about taking any type of CBD products. 

The Nitty Gritty on CBD and Addiction

Addiction takes place in the brain and shows up as strong cravings for certain substances that are known to be harmful, and that carry dangerous consequences. People who struggle and suffer with addiction often exhibit symptoms that range from behaviors that negatively impact their daily lives, to poor cognitive functioning, and disturbed bodily functions. 

Currently, scientists have not found a link between CBD and addiction, therefore, because it doesn’t cause intoxication, the brain may not associate it with its internal reward system. Moreover, researchers also believe that CBD doesn’t cause feelings of withdrawal and cannot be overdosed on. 

Even though CBD isn’t addictive and has a host of positive attributes, it still might not be the right supplement for you. If you’ve been thinking about adding CBD products into your existing supplement regimen but have questions or concerns, then you should speak with your healthcare provider, primary care doctor, or prescribing physician. If you’re taking prescription medication, then it’s especially important that you speak with your doctor about any potential drug interactions that CBD can create. 

Lastly, when taking CBD, keep a journal so that you can best track your experiences and any minor side effects that you may be experiencing. And if you’ve spoken with your doctor, then be mindful to not take over any amount of CBD that he or she has recommended.