Many people associate CBD with cannabis because it comes from the hemp plant. Due to this association, it is easy to assume that CBD could be addictive if THC is found to be that way. While current evidence suggests that heavy cannabis use may increase the risk of dependence in some people, CBD by itself does not appear to be addictive. However, much more research is needed about the long-term effects of CBD because our total research is still in its early stages.
In short, CBD by itself, does not appear to have addiction-related effects. This may be because CBD does not produce intoxicating effects.
First, we’ll look at how CBD works within our bodies to then discover whether or not it is addictive. CBD engages with receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS), the homeostatic regulatory network in humans. These receptors are spread throughout the body and deliver signals for the brain to interpret. The functioning of your other systems and organs is largely dependent on endocannabinoid signaling.
This way, the ECS can effectively maintain homeostasis throughout the body — a state of chemical equilibrium.
CBD supports homeostasis through several different pathways. Scientists have identified more than 65 molecular targets of CBD, which would explain why this cannabinoid is so versatile in managing our well-being.
CBD’s interaction with the ECS can affect 5-HT1A serotonin receptors. Serotonin is a major neurotransmitter responsible for mood regulation. It can also amplify feelings of happiness and relaxation. CBD is a natural inhibitor of the 5-HT1A receptors. It blocks serotonin reuptake in the brain so that the body can use it more effectively.
Similarly, CBD interacts with TRPV1 receptors by binding to their sites and blocking pain signals. CBD may also impact the nuclear receptor PPAR-gamma, which regulates the storage of fatty acids on top of glucose metabolism.
All these interactions seem promising when it comes to easing withdrawal symptoms and reducing the risk of addiction.
According to a 2017 Pre-Review Report, the World Health Organization (WHO) states that “evidence from well-controlled human experimental research indicates that CBD is not associated with abuse potential.”
The conclusion of a limited 2016 study of 31 adults show that while active THC produced substantial physical and psychological effects, such as rapid heart rate and euphoria, CBD did not affect heart rate, blood pressure, or cognitive function.
CBD also performed similarly to a placebo on self-reported feelings of intoxication. Conversely, the THC group reported feeling euphoric and sedated.
Not only is CBD not addictive, but some evidence may point to the fact that it can even help treat drug addiction. Preliminary evidence suggests that CBD might lower the likelihood of developing cocaine and methamphetamine use disorders. It may also help prevent relapse after a period of detoxification and sobriety.
While CBD doesn't produce the same addictive effects as THC, it's possible that someone who takes large amounts of CBD on a daily basis could experience side effects such as changes in sleep, inflammation, and anxiety if they quit suddenly.