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Can CBD Oil Be Addictive?

Can CBD Oil Be Addictive?

Given its links to the Cannabis sativa species, it’s common for people to assume that CBD may have addictive properties. Keep reading to find out how addiction works, and whether CBD oil has any addictive potential.

Understanding addiction

Addiction is an extremely powerful state that changes our behaviour, how we feel, and how our brain responds to certain stimuli. No matter the focus of a person’s addiction, it’s typical for the condition to manifest in three different stages: craving, loss of control, and continued use. When we consume a drug or take part in a pleasurable activity, the brain releases a potent neurochemical called dopamine. Now, technically, dopamine isn’t the issue; without it, we wouldn’t find much pleasure in healthy activities, let alone unhealthy ones.

How does CBD oil work?

When we consume CBD oil, it passes through the digestive system and into the liver. From there, the compound is broken down into smaller parts and distributed around the body via the bloodstream. CBD differs from addictive substances because it does not directly bind to receptors that catalyse a release of dopamine or affect the pleasure centre. Instead, CBD takes an indirect, holistic approach, encouraging the production of beneficial endocannabinoids and various associated enzymesโ€”there is no overload.

Is CBD oil addictive?

In a 2018 review of CBD, the World Health Organisation (WHO) found that the cannabinoid ‘exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential’, while also adding that the compound is ‘well tolerated with a good safety profile’ and ‘there is no evidence of recreational use’. It appears CBD isn’t addictive, but instead works with the body to encourage a balanced state.

Can CBD oil help with addiction?

While it appears CBD isn’t addictive, this doesn’t mean CBD’s relationship with addiction is entirely moot. Researchers have turned their attention towards the compound’s influence on withdrawal symptoms. Studies exploring the effect of CBD on addiction remain in their infancy, but publications have already published clinical trials. However, as we’ve already outlined, addiction is an incredibly complex mechanism involving dozens of physiological factors. No addiction is the same, and it’s possible to get addicted to just about anything. As such, more extensive long-term trials are needed before we can quantify CBD’s impact on addiction or withdrawal symptoms.

Does CBD oil have any side effects?

Even though CBD appears well tolerated, the compound still carries a risk of potential side effects. While none are as impactful as addiction, it’s always important to know how the cannabinoid can make you feel. Possible side effects include dry mouth, low blood pressure, lightheadedness, changes to appetite, diarrhoea, and interaction with prescription drugs. It’s important to highlight that side effects appear mild and dissipate quickly. Whether you’ll experience side effects varies from one person to the next, but, for now, we can say that CBD doesn’t appear to display any abuse potential.


[1] World Health Organization. (2018). CANNABIDIOL (CBD). [Source]

[2] Schoedel, K. A., Szeto, I., Setnik, B., Sellers, E. M., Levy-Cooperman, N., Mills, C., Etges, T., & Sommerville, K. (2018, November 1). Abuse potential assessment of cannabidiol (CBD) in recreational polydrug users: A randomized, double-blind, controlled trial. ScienceDirect. [Source]