As the CBD market continues to grow around the globe, there are more and more questions being asked about the product and its side effects. Cannabidiol (CBD), is often marred with the same brush as cannabis, falling victim to the same myths and concerns that cannabis carries.
One of the assumptions that I've seen being made is that CBD is addictive, and so I felt it was to time to explore the topic in more detail. Read on to see whether the product can be addictive, whether it can be used to help addiction and what might affect how addictive someone finds it.
Studies into the addictive properties of CBD
Although CBD is certainly not in its infancy, the recent boom means that scientists are somewhat on the backfoot when it comes to exploring its traits, especially in the UK.
A 2017 study by scientists in the United States gave frequent marijuana users cannabidiol. The study looked at both the drug interaction effects between THC and CBD, as well as aiming to examine CBD’s abuse liability profile. Participants were split up and given placebos doses and real doses of CBD, alongside their normal marijuana use. The results found that "overall, CBD did not display any signals of abuse liability”.
These findings align with those of a 2011 study, which also found that "chronic use and high doses" of CBD are "well-tolerated in humans".
Both of these studies, the most comprehensive currently available, determine that there is no reason to believe that CBD is addictive. However, it is worth mentioning they were both conducted in the United States, where CBD production is different than in the UK due to mixed laws on THC contents – the psychoactive chemical in marijuana plants.
The addictive properties of THC
In the UK, THC, the psychoactive element of the plant, is what currently makes cannabis illegal. Although it has a high presence in marijuana, hemp plants do not contain high levels of THC and as so, these are considered ‘safer’ to use to produce CBD for the UK market. Currently, the legal amount of THC allowed per container is 1mg or 0.2%
However, in places where THC products are legal (for example, certain American states) both marijuana and hemp plants are used to create CBD. In these places, CBD oils and hemp oils can contain higher levels of THC, as it’s thought that the combination of CBD and THC can have greater restorative effects against issues like high blood pressure, chronic pain and can be anti-inflammatory.
THC is not only the psychoactive element of marijuana but also the addictive element, being the driving force behind marijuana use disorder. A rehab centre in Napa Valley, (an area where THC is legal) explains on their site that: “Abusing high THC levels of marijuana can also put a person at risk of addiction.”
Currently, this is not an issue in the UK market as stores should only be stocking hemp-derived CBD products. However, as CBD in the UK is unregulated, research has found ‘measurable’ amounts of THC in some high street-sold CBD products. Although this increased amount is still not enough for you to ‘feel’ any psychoactive effects, this level of THC is illegal in the UK, so it’s imperative you do your research and only buy CBD from reputable company.
Using CBD to curb addiction problems
When it comes to addiction, CBD may in fact be a cure instead of a problem, like many seem to think. A 2015 study which took place in Montreal examined whether cannabidiol can act as an intervention for addictive behaviours.
The study aimed to condense all 14 previous studies carried out on the topic to try and find a definitive answer. It found that: “A limited number of preclinical studies suggest that CBD may have therapeutic properties on opioid, cocaine, and psychostimulant addiction, and some preliminary data suggest that it may be beneficial in cannabis and tobacco addiction”.
However, it also says that further studies would be needed for a conclusive result. But this shows a promising sign that CBD can potentially curb addiction problems, including both smoking and drug addiction.
When can CBD be addictive?
From the research currently laid out for us, it seems that CBD addiction depends much more on the user than the product itself. Studies have found no evidence to suggest CBD is a compound that supports addiction, however, if a person has addictive tendencies or are highly susceptible to addiction, the positive benefits of CBD may trigger an addictive response.
Kim from For The Ageless explains: "CBD has been proven to be non-addictive; in other words, it does not cause physical dependence and there is some evidence that it may actually help deal with addiction. In any case, if you’re very prone to addiction, you may find that any substance - including CBD - can become addictive. In that theoretical case, addiction wouldn’t be to CBD in itself, but to the positive effects or associated behaviours associated with it."
Is CBD addictive?
In short, No. Right now, there is no reason to believe that CBD is addictive. Not only have research studies concluded it is not addictive, but other studies have even found it can actually be beneficial in addressing addiction. Current UK products, like CBD oils and CBD infused drinks, should not contain any ingredients that can trigger addiction, and therefore, it is not something consumers should be worried about.
About the author:
Kamila is a bestselling author of “Bespoke. How to radically grow your bar and restaurant business through personalisation”, and passionate trend-spotter for the UK Eating Out market with thousands of followers on her widely popular blog kamilasitwell.co.uk.
With a decade of hands-on experience collaborating with hospitality influencers and insight experts and background in setting strategies for leading brands, Kamila has become the industry champion for truly bespoke and guest-centric experiences.