An ever-increasing number of medical research is pointing towards the many health benefits of CBD. Studies show that CBD has anti-inflammatory properties and the ability to suppress seizures. This in addition to the fact that can help people manage everyday stress and reduce anxiety and panic attacks.
CBD’s popularity in the recent past has really taken off with people in almost every country in the world turning towards this organic natural health and wellness elixir. As of this writing, Hemp-based CBD oil is legal in all 50 states of the USA as long as it contains less than the mandated 0.3% of THC content.
The WHO has stated that CBD is a generally well-tolerated and safe compound even when consumed in doses as high as 1,500 mg a day.
The question now is whether or not CBD is addictive. Can a user get ‘hooked’ on CBD? Can it lead to substance abuse problems, etc?
Understanding the Mechanics of Addiction
Addiction is understood to be a psychological response to any external stimuli. The medical community often links addiction to alterations in brain structure and function. Psychologists agree that addiction processes start with the following three states –
Pleasure triggers occur when the brain encounters external substances, for example, caffeine, nicotine, and drugs like cocaine, it receives an overflow of neurotransmitters like dopamine which in turn leads to a flood of pleasurable sensations.
This sudden rise in dopamine levels leads to it being accumulated within the hypothalamus which plays a large part in addiction. According to scientists, addiction likelihood is dependent on a number of factors such as reliability, speed, and potency of dopamine buildup.
Scientists agree that the complete picture of addiction is much bigger and not merely pleasure-seeking. In fact, it can also come from a set of learned behaviors that users follow to repeatedly search for addictive substances. While dopamine may form and lead to feelings of pleasure, the activity or set of activities is more important.
Here, dopamine works in conjunction with another neurotransmitter – glutamate – to force the brain to connect the feelings of pleasure to the activity or activities leading up to it.
When a person is continually exposed to a particular substance, it can cause the nerve cells in the prefrontal cortex to slowly become dependent on the substance. In such a case, users tend to seek out similar substances more often. Gradually the frequency of these needs increases as the repeated exposure leads to a build of tolerance.
Drug tolerance is especially dangerous, hence, with drugs such as opioids, there is always a high chance of a lethal overdose.
People who have been the victims of prolonged exposure very often experience severe and dangerous withdrawal symptoms when they try to go ‘cold turkey’.
How Does CBD Work?
Cannabidiol or CBD is one of two main compounds in cannabis. The other being THC. Unlike THC, CBD does not have any psychoactive properties. It will not make users feel ‘high’ or provide the euphoric feeling generally associated with THC use.
The endocannabinoid system is the main regulatory network in all animals. CBD interacts with the major receptors within this endocannabinoid system. These receptors work by sending messages through the body and signals for the brain to interpret. The receptors within the endocannabinoid system are largely responsible for how the brain functions and helps the body maintain a biochemical balance or homeostasis.
CBD supports this biochemical balance in a variety of ways. Medical researchers believe that CBD has an excess of 60 molecular targets. This is why CBD has a wide range of health applications and benefits. The way CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system also influences the 5-HT1A receptors that are sensitive to serotonin – a neurotransmitter.
Serotonin is a major factor when it comes to regulating mood and sharpening feelings of relaxation and happiness. CBD works by acting as a natural, organic inhibitor of these 5-HT1A receptors and blocks its reabsorption in the brain. This leads to a higher concentration of Serotonin circulating in the body. Result? A feeling of happiness and relaxation.
In a similar manner, CBD also interacts with the TRPV1 receptors – a subtype of the serotonin receptor. CBD blocks signals that are responsible for feeling pain. Additionally, it is possible that CBD also interacts with PPAR-gamma – a nuclear receptor that is responsible for metabolizing glucose and storing fatty acids.
All of the above effects and interactions of CBD are positive trends when it comes to addiction management and the reduction of withdrawal symptoms in individuals.
So, Is CBD Oil Addictive?
Given that CBD does not produce the ‘high’ associated with THC consumption, there is very little chance for it to be addictive. A study published in the Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence in 2017 explained how researchers administered varying doses of oral CBD to habitual users. The research concluded that CBD is almost as likely to be abused as a placebo.
Another study a few years earlier in 2011 concluded that humans can tolerate CBD in doses as high as 1,500 mg a day. Even at this high dose, CBD did not seem to impact motor skills or psychological functions. There was no noticeable change in body temperature, heart rate, or blood pressure.
CBD products that are derived from Hemp and contain less than the prescribed .3 percent of THC are legal per federal law. However, certain state laws may still deem it illegal.
CBD products that are derived from Marijuana are illegal per federal law but remain legal under the laws of certain states.
It is advisable to check the appropriate state laws in case of travel. It is important to note that over-the-counter CBD products are not approved by the FDA.