Is CBD Safe for Those Who Are Struggling with Addiction?

Is CBD Safe for Those Who Are Struggling with Addiction?

Although hemp-derived CBD is now considered federally legal in the United States, some controversy continues to surround the cannabinoid. One question that remains confusing for some is, “is CBD addictive, and is its use problematic for those recovering from addiction?”

Join us as we explore these questions in depth, examining the complex relationship between CBD and addiction.


What is CBD?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound extracted from the Cannabis sativa plant. It is non-psychoactive, meaning that it does not produce the intoxicating effects associated with marijuana use. To learn more about the differences between cannabis, hemp, and marijuana, check out this article!

People often seek out CBD as an alternative remedy for a wide array of health issues, ranging from ongoing conditions like Lyme disease or chronic migraines to acute ailments like sports injuries or occasional sleep disturbances.

CBD works by interacting with the human endocannabinoid system (ECS) to help regulate various bodily functions and even induce homeostasis. When you consume CBD, the endocannabinoid receptors throughout your body are triggered to produce body-wide benefits.


What is addiction?

Addiction is a chronic neural system dysfunction characterized by motivation, memory, and reward issues surrounding a specific substance or behavior. When a person becomes addicted to something, they develop a physical, emotional, or physiological dependence toward that thing.

Some common signs and symptoms of addiction include:

  • Inability to stop a certain behavior or stay away from a certain substance
  • Lack of self-control surrounding a specific behavior or substance
  • Lack of self-awareness and inability to recognize any problems surrounding the use of a substance or engagement in a behavior
  • Increased desire or need for a substance or a behavior

People suffering from addictions often find themselves in a continuous cycle of relapse and remission. Because many addictions involve substances that prompt physiological dependency, it can be difficult to resist the temptation and reward that accompanies substance use. Unfortunately, many addictions worsen over time and become increasingly difficult to treat or quit for good.

As addictions worsen, they often interfere with everyday functioning and your ability to maintain things like work, school, or interpersonal relationships. Additionally, addictions can lead to serious consequences like pervasive financial issues or irreversible health problems.


Is CBD addictive?

In short, no, CBD is not an addictive substance. Some assume that CBD is addictive because it comes from the same plant that produces THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol.

THC is the main psychotropic compound produced by the cannabis plant. It is responsible for the “high” you may experience when consuming marijuana.

Whether or not THC is physiologically addictive is a topic of much debate. Some studies believe there may be some addictive component associated with this particular compound, but much of the evidence is ultimately inconclusive. Physiological addiction hinges on chemical dependence, and many find that THC abuse largely involves mental, not chemical, dependence.

When it comes to CBD, researchers arrive at an entirely different conclusion. Studies like this one find that CBD is not physiologically addictive and poses little to no threat to those already suffering from addiction. In fact, mounting research suggests the opposite: CBD may actually be beneficial to people who struggle with addiction or addictive tendencies!


How can CBD help with addiction?

CBD has been implicated as a safe and effective treatment for several types of addiction. These include alcoholism, prescription and recreational drug addiction, and even marijuana abuse.

CBD helps modulate neural pathways

The ECS is made up of two main types of endocannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2 receptors. While CB1 receptors are located primarily in the brain and modulate functions like metabolism, temperature, and cognition, CB2 receptors can be found throughout the body, interacting with all other bodily systems.

CB1 receptors modulate neural pathways by regulating the production of various hormones, including feel-good chemicals serotonin and dopamine. These hormones are central to addiction because they play a key role in our reward system.

With addiction, the neural pathways are trained to feel an overwhelming sense of reward when the substance of abuse enters the body. This is what makes addiction so powerful – the brain senses an intense, surging output of dopamine when the learned substance of abuse is used, and that substance becomes a shortcut to the desired dopamine rush.

Addictive substances also deplete serotonin levels, leaving those suffering from addiction with low mood and strong feelings of depression or anxiety. This prompts addictive cravings – in order to replenish serotonin and feel good or happy again, sufferers must indulge in their next serotonin-boosting “fix.”

This is where CBD comes into play. CBD combats addiction directly by resetting those neural pathways that have gradually shifted to seek addictive rewards.

CBD directly targets your CB1 receptors to regulate dopamine and serotonin production, modulate opioidergic pathways, and even promote neurogenesis, or the creation of new brain cells.

CBD may reduce addictive cravings and prevent relapse

This pivotal study concludes that CBD greatly reduces the incidence and severity of relapse, and even prevents addictive relapse up to 5 months post-CBD treatment. To further bolster CBD’s efficacy, researchers also found that patients suffering from addiction did not build a tolerance to CBD’s benefits when consumed daily, making CBD a potent long-term treatment for addiction.

Another recent review of current research solidifies CBD’s potential as an anti-addiction therapeutic, finding that the cannabinoid significantly alleviates alcohol cravings with consistent transdermal application. Researchers here observed that, by balancing dopamine production, CBD reduced alcoholic cravings, impulsive decision-making, and the overall incidence of alcoholic relapse.

Beyond alcohol addiction, the same review found that CBD drastically reduces opioid and psychostimulant cravings and even reverses long-term memory loss in psychostimulant abuse patients by accelerating neurogenesis and offering neuroprotective properties. Researchers also observed a significant reduction in withdrawal-related symptoms.


Although some confusion and controversy surround CBD and addiction, research confidently points to a positive relationship between the cannabinoid and addictive tendencies. Whether you or a loved one grapple with addiction, we hope you find that this powerful compound helps guide you down the road to relief and recovery.

time May 30, 2024

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