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Cannabidiol Oil for Decreasing Addictive Use of Marijuana: A Case Report

This case study illustrates the use of cannabidiol (CBD) oil to decrease the addictive use of marijuana and provide anxiolytic and sleep benefits. Addiction to marijuana is a chronic, relapsing disorder, which is becoming a prevalent condition in the United States. The most abundant compound in the marijuana, which is called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), has been widely studied and known for its psychoactive properties. The second most abundant component—CBD—has been suggested to have the medicinal effects of decreasing anxiety, improving sleep, and other neuro-protective effects. The mechanism of action for CBD has been suggested to be antagonistic to the psychoactive properties of THC in many locations within the central nervous system. Such action raises the issue of whether it might be beneficial to use CBD in isolation to facilitate withdrawal of marijuana use. The specific use of CBD for marijuana reduction has not been widely studied.

The patient was a 27-y-old male who presented with a long-standing diagnosis of bipolar disorder and a daily addiction to marijuana use. In the described intervention, the only change made to the patient’s treatment was the addition of CBD oil with the dosage gradually decreasing from 24 to 18 mg. With use of the CBD oil, the patient reported being less anxious, as well as settling into a regular pattern of sleep. He also indicated that he had not used any marijuana since starting the CBD oil. With the decrease in the dosage to 18 mg, the patient was able to maintain his nonuse of marijuana.

Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is a naturally occurring constituent of industrial hemp and marijuana collectively called cannabis. CBD oil is one of at least 85 cannabinoid compounds found in cannabis and is popular for its medicinal benefits. After tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the most abundant compound in cannabis, CBD is the second most abundant. Other names for CBD oil include CBD-rich hemp oil, hemp-derived CBD oil, or CBD-rich cannabis oil. CBD is generally considered to be safe and has been used medicinally for decades. The suggested medicinal effects of CBD include decreasing anxiety, improving sleep, and providing other neuroprotective effects.

THC is a cannabinoid and is the component that induces the euphoric psychoactive effect. Various cannabis plants can have different amounts of CBD and THC depending on the strain, and, thus, can provide different recreational or medicinal effects. The cannabinoid profile of industrial hemp or medical marijuana is ideal for people looking for the medical benefits of CBD without the high of the THC. The mechanism of action for CDB has been suggested to be antagonistic to the psychoactive properties of THC in many locations within the central nervous system, thus helping to attenuate the psychoactive behaviors of THC.1,2

The mechanism of action of CBD is multifold.3,4,5 Two cannabinoid receptors are known to exist in the human body: CB1 and CB2 receptors. The CB1 receptors are located mainly in the brain and modulate neurotransmitter release in a manner that (1) prevents excessive neuronal activity, thus calming and decreasing anxiety; (2) reduces pain; (3) decreases inflammation; (4) regulates movement and posture control; and (5) controls sensory perception, memory, and cognitive function.4

Anandamide, an endogenous ligand that occurs naturally within our bodies, binds to the CB1 receptors through the G-protein coupling system. CBD has an indirect effect on the CB1 receptors by stopping the enzymatic breakdown of anandamide, allowing it to stay in the system longer and to provide its medical benefits.6 CBD has a mild effect on the CB2 receptors, which are located in the periphery of the lymphoid tissue. The CBD helps to mediate the release of cytokines from the immune cells in a manner that helps to reduce inflammation and pain.4

Other mechanisms of action of CBD include stimulation of vanilloid pain receptors, such as the transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily V member 1 (TRPV-1) receptor, which are known to mediate pain perception, inflammation, and body temperature.7 CBD may also exert its antianxiety effects by activating adenosine receptors that play a significant role in cardiovascular function, causing a broad anti-inflammatory effect throughout the body.7 At high concentrations, CBD directly activates the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor, thereby conferring an antidepressant effect.8 CBD has been found to be an antagonist at a potentially new third cannabinoid receptor (ie, G protein-coupled receptor 55, or GPR55), which resides in the caudate nucleus and putamen and can contribute to osteoporosis when stimulated.9

Since the 1940s, a considerable number of published articles have addressed the chemistry, biochemistry, pharmacology, and clinical effects of CBD.10 The last decade has shown a notable increase in the scientific literature on CBD, owing to its identification as being beneficial in reducing nausea and vomiting, combating psychotic disorders, decreasing inflammation, lessening anxiety, reducing depression, improving sleep, and increasing a sense of well-being.11,12,13,14 Findings presented at the 2015 International Cannabinoid Research Society at their 25th Annual Symposium in Nova Scotia, Canada, reported that use of CBD was beneficial for treatment of liver fibrosis and inflammation, metabolic syndrome, overweight and obesity, anorexia/cachexia syndrome, and osteoarthritic and other musculoskeletal conditions.15

Although studies have demonstrated the calming, anti-inflammatory, and relaxing effects of CBD, clinical data demonstrating the use of CBD to obtain help in marijuana withdrawal is minimal. One prior case study by Crippa et al16 documented the positive effects of using CBD for the treatment of marijuana withdrawal. The current case study offers further evidence that CBD is effective as a safe method of transitioning off marijuana without unwanted side effects.

Presenting Concerns

The patient was a 27-year-old male who presented with a long-standing diagnosis of bipolar disorder and a daily addiction to marijuana. His presenting concerns included erratic behaviors, anxiety, inconsistent sleep patterns, and irritability. He currently lives with his parents, works as a self-employed driver, and teaches chess to children. Informed consent was received from the patient.

Clinical Findings

The patient’s history included hospitalizations as a teenager for bipolar episodes. He came to the author’s clinic, Wholeness Center in Fort Collins, Colorado, in 2011 and was evaluated by a psychiatrist and naturopathic physician.

The patient’s treatments for his bipolar disorder included pharmacological medications ( Table 1 ). Evaluations included (1) a basic, complete blood count; (2) a nutritional evaluation; (3) a comprehensive metabolic panel; (4) a lipid panel; (5) a measurement of methylene tetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR); (6) a celiac panel; (7) a measurement of thyroid function; (8) a measurement of iron levels; and (9) a quantitative electroencephalogram (qEEG).

Table 1

Patient’s Timeline, 2011–2015

Date Presentation Medications Supplements Cannabidiol Oil
06/20/2011 Initial psychological evaluation; diagnosis of bipolar disorder and depression, with difficulty processing information; buzzing in head and some disorientation; 2 manic periods in previous 10 mo, exacerbated by substance abuse; history of hospitalizations; micromanagement of life by mother. Regular marijuana use
11/2011–06/2012 49 neurofeedback sessions. Marijuana use
08/2012–10/2012 9 bodywork sessions. Marijuana use
10/22/2013 No periods of mania/depression; 2 jobs. Marijuana use
02/21/2014 Erratic moods with resumption of THC; stressed family with patient’s deterioration when using THC. Citalopram: 20 mg Marijuana use daily
03/27/2014 Mood withdrawn and erratic; passiveaggressive behaviors. Citalopram: 20 mg
Lamotrigine: 150 mg
Marijuana use: 1–2 joints /night + pot brownies; admitted addiction to THC
DEN: 3 caps TID
Niacin: 2 caps BID
O-3: 1 cap/d
CoQ10: 150 mg/d
Inositol: 2 scoops am & pm
Probiotic: 1 cap/d
Meriva: 1 cap/d
05/08/2014 Contemplation of quitting THC; realization of connection with mood changes; concern of family about mood changes; limited social contact; works with Legos. Citalopram: 20 mg
Lamotrigine: 150 mg
Regular marijuana use
DEN: 3 caps TID
Niacin: 2 caps BID
O-3: 1 cap/d
CoQ10: 150 mg/d
Probiotic: 1 cap/d
07/10/2014 Less labile; mildly tired; no psychosis; continued marijuana use; less tension at home, with father home more often. Citalopram: 20 mg
Lamotrigine: 150 mg
Deplin: 15 mg
Marijuana use 1 ×/wk
DEN: 3 caps TID
Niacin: 2 caps BID
O-3: 1 cap/d
CoQ10: 150 mg/d
04/24/2015 Continuous destabilization; no evidence of psychosis; difficulty with abuse of marijuana; jobs teaching chess to kids and catering. Citalopram: 20 mg
Lamotrigine: 150 mg
Deplin: 15 mg
Marijuana use daily
DEN: 3 caps TID
Niacin: 2 caps BID
O-3: 1 cap/d
CoQ10: 150 mg/d
05/04/2015 Anxious, erratic moods; sensitive to gluten but no restriction; consumption of a lot of junk food; jobs teaching kids chess, making deliveries. Citalopram: 20 mg
Lamotrigine: 150 mg
Deplin: 15 mg
No marijuana
No supplements
6 sprays PRN during day; 2 sprays QHS
06/04/2015 Overall improved quality of sleep; slightly less anxious. Citalopram: 20 mg
Lamotrigine: 150 mg
Deplin: 15 mg
No marijuana
No supplements
3–4 sprays PRN during day; 6 sprays QHS
07/02/2015 Overall doing well; better sleep; anxiety under control; new job as Uber driver. Citalopram: 20 mg
Lamotrigine: 150 mg
Deplin: 15 mg
No marijuana
No supplements
2 sprays PRN during day; 4 sprays QHS
08/03/2015 Overall good sleep and no anxiety. Citalopram: 20 mg
Lamotrigine: 150 mg
Deplin: 15 mg
No marijuana
No supplements
0 sprays PRN during day; 6 sprays QHS
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Abbreviations: THC, tetrahydrocannabinol; DEN, daily essential nutrients; cap(s), capsule(s); TID, 3 ×/d; BID, 2 ×/d; THC, tetrahydrocannabinol; PRN, when necessary; QHS, every bedtime.

Dietary recommendations were then implemented as was a regimen of nutritional supplements. The patient also received neurofeedback sessions and bodywork. Prior to the period of the case study, he had been stable for a number of years.

In time, the patient’s marijuana habit progressed to addiction. In May 2015, it was recommended that he begin taking CBD as a way of transitioning off the daily marijuana use and stabilizing his erratic moods.

Diagnostic Focus and Assessment

Clinical observations of the patient’s erratic behaviors, mood swings, and disorientation, together with the patient’s self-report of daily marijuana use, reinforced the diagnoses of bipolar disorder and addiction. He was administered the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI)17 and the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAM-A)18 prior to initiation of the CBD oil.

Theraputic Focus, Assessment, and Follow-up

The only addition that the author made to the patient’s treatment regime was the CBD oil. At the same time, the patient’s other supplement therapy was discontinued to simplify treatment, as no clear benefit was demonstrated. The initial regimen was 24 mg of the CBD oil, with 6 sprays PRN during the day and 2 sprays QHS. The dosage was gradually decreased from 24 to 18 mg, with the patient using no sprays during the day and 6 sprays at bedtime. The patient was seen for monthly appointments, including readministration of the PSQI and the HAM-A to evaluate the effectiveness and proper dosing of the CBD oil. CannaVest Company (Las Vegas. NV, USA), which had no involvement in the case study or distribution of the product, provided the CBD oil that was administered to the patient.

Outcome Measures

Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index

The PSQI is a standardized and validated self-report instrument that measures sleep quality over the prior month. Low scores indicate better sleep. A score under 5 means that you have no sleep concerns. 5 to 10 is fair quality sleep.

Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale

The HAM-A scale is a standardized and validated measure of anxiety in an adult population that has been in active use for decades. A score of 17 or less indicates mild anxiety in terms of severity. A score from 18 to 24 demonstrates mild to moderate anxiety severity. Last, a score of 25 to 30 indicates moderate to severe anxiety.

Results

Using the CBD oil, the patient was able to maintain nonuse of marijuana. With a subsequent, gradual decrease in anxiety, the patient was able to maintain a regular sleeping schedule ( Table 2 ). He was able to get a more secure job as a self-employed driver, and he continued to teach chess to children. He also became more interactive with his family and friends.

Table 2

Date PSQI HAM-A
05/4/2015 7 16
06/4/2015 8 8
07/2/2015 7 6
08/3/2015 7 5
09/10/2015 8 4

Abbreviations: PSQI, Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index; HAM-A, Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale.

Discussion

The current case study found that CBD oil can be an effective compound to use for transitioning an individual off addictive use of marijuana. The fact that no changes were made in the patient’s medication schedule, diet, or lifestyle gives credence to the idea that the results were the actual effects of the CBD oil.

A possible weakness of the study is the fact that the patient’s total nonuse of marijuana was self-reported, and the reliability of his reporting could be suspect. However, the patient made significant gains in taking responsible actions and presented fewer erratic and disorganized behaviors.

A systematic review of the literature previously had examined 14 studies on the use of CBD oil to modulate various neuronal circuits involved in drug addiction.19 That review suggested that CBD “may have therapeutic properties on opioid, cocaine, and psychostimulant addictions … and may be beneficial in cannabis addiction in humans.” The current case study seems to support that review’s conclusions.

One reported consequence of the cessation of daily marijuana use is a withdrawal syndrome that is characterized by irritability, anxiety, marijuana craving, decreased quality and quantity of sleep, and reduced food intake.16,20 The use of the CBD oil in transitioning the current patient off the marijuana allowed him to avoid experiencing those side effects, as was demonstrated by his behavior and scores on the PSQI and HAM-A screening tools.

Patient Perspective

The patient reported being less anxious and sleeping better since taking the CBD oil. He reported not using any marijuana since starting the CBD and was proud of his accomplishment of getting a job as a self-employed driver and continuing with teaching chess to children.

Footnotes

Author Disclosure Statement

The author participated in no competing interests that would have affected the results of the case study. No financial support was provided by CannaVest at any time.

References

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Articles from Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal are provided here courtesy of InnoVision Media

CBD Oil: 9 Science-Backed Benefits

Dr. Bindiya Gandhi is an integrative medicine physician with expertise in functional and holistic medicine based in Atlanta, Georgia.

Commissions we earn from partner links on this page do not affect our opinions or evaluations. Our editorial content is based on thorough research and guidance from the Forbes Health Advisory Board.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a chemical compound found in the cannabis sativa plant. When applied topically or consumed through smoke inhalation or edible consumption, CBD interacts with neuroreceptors in your endocannabinoid system, which sends signals between your cells to help regulate your movement, mood, homeostasis and immune system.

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CBD is often extracted from the cannabis sativa plant in oil form and mixed with an inert carrier oil like hemp seed oil for consumption. In fact, of the 60% of U.S. adults who report having used CBD before, 55% of them use CBD oils and tinctures specifically, according to a recent Forbes Health survey of 2,000 U.S. adults conducted by OnePoll.

CBD research is growing, too. Here are nine ways studies suggest CBD oil could benefit your health.

1. Offset Anxiety and Depression

CBD’s ability to calm is perhaps its most popular effect and the reason its use is so widespread. A 2017 study in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry tested the anxiety levels of 57 men in a simulated public speaking test. Some received a placebo while others received either 150 milligrams, 300 milligrams or 600 milligrams of CBD before their speeches. Those who received 300 milligrams of CBD experienced significantly reduced anxiety during the test compared to those who received the placebo. Interestingly, participants who received either 150 or 600 milligrams of CBD experienced more anxiety during the test than the 300 milligrams group.

Meanwhile, at least one study in mice revealed CBD had effects similar to the antidepressant imipramine. Human trials are needed, though, to confirm whether CBD can induce this same antidepressant reaction in our bodies.

2. Treat Select Epilepsy Syndromes

In some instances, CBD can be used to treat epileptic seizures.

In 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of CBD under the brand name Epidiolex to treat seizures resulting from Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome—two rare forms of epilepsy—in patients at least 2 years old.

Three well-vetted studies provide the basis of support for the FDA’s decision. In these trials, 516 patients with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome received either Epidiolex or a placebo. Epidiolex, when taken along with other prescribed medications, decreased the frequency of participants’ seizures compared to the placebo.

3. Reduce PTSD Symptoms

In a small 2018 study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 11 people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) received CBD along with routine psychiatric care for eight weeks in an outpatient psychiatric clinic. Ten of the 11 experienced a decrease in their PTSD symptoms. CBD was generally well tolerated, the researchers write.

Margaret Rajnic, a doctor of nursing practice experienced in medical cannabis and CBD, emphasizes the importance of using therapy in tandem with any type of cannabis or CBD for PTSD. “There is an amount of therapy that is needed for PTSD,” she says. “But CBD will give you that little bit of decreased anxiety.”

Four other human trials from 2012 to 2016 suggest CBD reduces PTSD symptoms, although some include THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the main mind-altering element in cannabis. When THC and CBD work together, they create what’s called an “entourage effect,” complementing each other’s benefits and potency. For example, taking the same dose of THC and CBD together tempers the “high” from THC, while just a little THC paired with more CBD enhances the effects of the CBD.

4. Treat Opioid Addiction

Some studies—both preclinical animal and human clinical trials—suggest CBD could be used to help treat people who are dependent on opioids.

In one such study, researchers administered CBD to people with heroin use disorder. Over the course of a week, CBD significantly reduced heroin users’ cue-induced cravings, withdrawal anxiety, resting heart rate and salivary cortisol levels. No serious adverse effects were found.

Other studies find CBD helpful in reducing various psychiatric and medical symptoms like anxiety, insomnia and pain in patients with substance use disorders, indicating that CBD may be an effective treatment for opioid addiction. However, further studies are necessary.

5. Alleviate ALS Symptoms

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a disease that causes nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord to deteriorate, resulting in loss of muscle control that worsens over time. It’s not yet understood exactly why ALS occurs, although it can be hereditary in some cases. There’s no known cure, and there are only two FDA-approved medications to help treat ALS symptoms.

Research suggests people with ALS can benefit from the entourage effect created by the combination of THC and CBD, similar to people with PTSD. In a 2019 study, patients received a combination of THC and CBD in varying doses depending on their needs and preferences. Those with mild, moderate or severe spasticity (muscle tightness and stiffness) due to ALS reported high levels of satisfaction with the treatment, and those with moderate to severe spasticity reported higher satisfaction rates than those with mild spasticity.

6. Relieve Unmanageable Pain

In 2005, Canada approved the use of Sativex, an oromucosal (absorbed in the lining of the mouth) spray with equal proportions of THC and CBD, for the treatment of multiple sclerosis-related central neuropathic pain. In 2007, Canada approved the medicine’s use again for cancer pain that proved unresponsive to other medications.

Meanwhile, continued studies in the U.S. indicate CBD is effective in treating chronic, non-cancer pain. In one 2020 study, researchers administered CBD topically to a group of patients with symptomatic peripheral neuropathy (a result of brain nerve and spinal cord nerve damage) while another group with the same condition received a placebo. Results showed a significant reduction in intense, sharp pains and cold, itchy sensations in those who used the topical CBD compared to those who used the placebo. No participants reported adverse side effects.

When introduced topically, CBD oil doesn’t affect the systemic issue as it might if it were introduced directly into the bloodstream. Instead, topical CBD is more localized and treats pain in a certain area. Since it’s more direct, it may have a more pronounced effect.

7. Ease Diabetic Complications

For starters, tests on human cells found that CBD helps reduce the effects of high glucose levels on other cells in the body, which typically precedes the development of diabetes and various complications. Researchers concluded that with further studies, CBD could have significant benefits when used in patients with diabetes, diabetic complications and plaque buildup in artery walls.

In another small study, 13 patients with type 2 diabetes who weren’t on insulin treatment were given both CBD and a placebo (in lieu of insulin). Researchers found CBD decreased their levels of resistin (which causes resistance to insulin, the protein that regulates sugar levels) and increased their levels of glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide (a hormone that ensures a sufficient release of insulin from digested food) compared to their baselines before they started the test. These results suggest CBD could be a natural treatment for diabetes by helping the body regulate insulin-related hormone levels.

8. Protect Against Neurological Disease

Preclinical and clinical studies show that CBD has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Researchers deduce these characteristics can provide significant neuroprotection, or protection against numerous pathological disorders.

Several preclinical studies suggest CBD can produce beneficial effects against Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis. Huntington’s disease and cerebral ischemia were also tested, although significant positive results were not recorded. Further clinical studies are needed to confirm CBD’s benefits when used as a treatment for these disorders.

9. Inhibit Arthritis Symptoms

Arthritis involves the deterioration of the tissues in and around your joints. There are several types of arthritis, and symptoms include pain, stiffness and loss of motion. Arthritis treatment usually targets pain relief and improved joint function.

A 2006 study found that Sativex—a CBD-based botanical drug approved in the United Kingdom in 2010—promoted statistically significant improvements in quality of sleep, pain during movement and pain at rest in patients with rheumatoid arthritis when compared to a placebo. It was the first controlled trial of Sativex as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, involving 58 patients. CBD was found to have a pain-relieving effect, as well as an ability to suppress disease activity.

In 2018, in a study of more localized treatment, researchers administered a synthetic CBD gel in either 250-milligram or 500-milligram doses daily or a placebo to patients with knee pain due to osteoarthritis. Patients also stopped taking any other anti-inflammatory medications or painkillers, with the exception of acetaminophen, before and during the study period.

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The results were interesting, although not entirely conclusive. On one hand, those treated with CBD did not experience much change in pain when compared with placebo patients. On the other hand, there were statistically significant differences between the group receiving the 250-milligram dose and the placebo group when measuring the average weekly improvement of their worst pain levels and their WOMAC (Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Arthritis Index) physical function rating. Additionally, men seemed to benefit from CBD more significantly than women in this test.

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Is CBD Addictive?

Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.

Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.

Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Verywell / Theresa Chiechi

Because marijuana can be addictive, particularly when it is used heavily and at high doses, you might wonder if CBD addiction is also possible. CBD (cannabidiol) is one of the many compounds found in cannabis. Products containing CBD have grown in popularity in recent years, found in everything from gummy supplements to post-workout smoothies to CBD-infused pillows.

CBD’s burgeoning popularity has been fueled in part by the compound’s purported mental health-boosting properties. However, some people may hesitate to use such products for fear that CBD might have the same potential for addiction as cannabis.

This article discusses whether CBD addiction is something to worry about. It also covers some of the other possible concerns you might have when taking CBD.

Is CBD Addictive?

Drug addiction is defined as a compulsive need to use a substance and an inability to stop using it despite negative consequences.

Substances that lead to dependence and addiction affect the pleasure centers of the brain, often making it so that people need to consume a substance to avoid experiencing symptoms of withdrawal. In many cases, people may also need to use more and more of a drug in order to continue experiencing the same euphoric effects that they initially felt.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the psychoactive compound in cannabis that produces the high associated with marijuana. When administered, THC travels to the brain via the bloodstream and attaches to the endocannabinoid receptors found in areas of the brain that are associated with things such as pleasure, movement, memory, and thought.

While cannabidiol also interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, CBD does not have the same intoxicating properties that THC has. Research suggests it has a good safety profile and is well tolerated at doses up to 600mg to 1,500 mg.

Unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD does not produce psychoactive effects. And while marijuana use can lead to dependence, current research suggests that CBD is not addictive.

According to the World Health Organization, in humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…To date, there is no evidence of public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.

A 2017 study published in the Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence suggested that CBD has the same potential for dependence as a placebo pill.

However, it is important to note that many CBD products may contain some level of THC. Federal law requires that hemp-derived CBD products contain less than 0.3% of THC. However, research has found that 70% of CBD products contain significantly more THC than their labels suggest.

While CBD is not addictive, THC is. Evidence suggests that people can develop a tolerance to THC and may experience withdrawal symptoms. Physical dependence on THC is more likely among people who use high-THC cannabis strains.

CBD Might Help Treat Addiction

Some evidence suggests that CBD may actually be helpful for treating drug addiction and addictive behaviors. For example, while the research is still scarce and preliminary, studies have found that CBD shows promise in the treatment of cocaine and methamphetamine addiction.

A 2015 review of available preclinical and clinical data found that CBD had therapeutic properties in the treatment of cocaine, opioid, and psychostimulant addiction. Evidence also indicated that it might have benefits in the treatment of tobacco and cannabis addiction.

A 2019 study found that cannabidiol might help reduce drug cravings, paranoia, impulsivity, and withdrawal symptoms associated with crack-cocaine addiction.

While promising, more research is needed to understand how CBD might be utilized for the treatment of substance use disorders.

Effects of CBD

While CBD does not have psychoactive properties, it does have a variety of effects. Its potential impact on mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression has been a specific point of interest for many.

In addition to mental health benefits, some research indicates that CBD might be helpful for reducing pain, relieving nausea, and treating inflammation. The World Health Organization also suggests that CBD may be helpful for treating conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

Some of the potential uses are listed below.

Seizures

Research has found that CBD may help reduce seizures caused by epilepsy. A 2018 study of children and adults with treatment-resistant epilepsy found that the use of CBD was associated with reductions in the frequency and severity of seizures.

In 2018, the FDA approved Epidiolex, a CBD solution, for the treatment of rare, severe forms of epilepsy.

Anxiety

Research also suggests that CBD may be helpful for alleviating symptoms of anxiety. For example, one study found that cannabidiol was useful for reducing symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and social anxiety disorder.

Depression

Studies also suggest that CBD may have potential in the treatment of depression. For example, one study found that CBD influences how the brain responds to serotonin, which may have an antidepressant-like effect.

What the Research Says

While CBD does not appear to be addictive and may have some benefits, one large-scale review concluded that there was not enough evidence to support the use of CBD as a treatment for mental health conditions.

This doesn’t mean that CBD might not be helpful. It means that more studies are needed to determine what CBD might treat, when it is best used, and what dosage people should take.

Side Effects and Other Concerns

Current evidence suggests that CBD use does not lead to addiction and that the substance may have a number of health benefits. However, it is also important to be aware that CBD does have some potential side effects.

Some side effects that may occur when taking CBD include:

  • Anxiety
  • Changes in appetite
  • Dizziness
  • Drug interactions
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Mood changes
  • Nausea

Research indicates that CBD is generally well-tolerated up to doses of around 600 mg and as high as 1500 mg. However, it can often be difficult to determine how much CBD you are actually taking. According to one study, 43% of commercially-available CBD products contain substantially more cannabidiol than indicated on the label.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health cautions that CBD may be harmful to some people. In some studies, the use of Epidiolex was linked to liver problems and drug interactions.

While such issues can be managed when taking a prescribed medication under doctor supervision, self-administered CBD could potentially have the same harmful effects, particularly since it can be difficult to determine how much CBD many products actually contain.

CBD products may also contain higher levels of THC than stated on the label. This can be concerning if you are trying to avoid THC.

Recap

While current evidence indicates that you won’t develop a CBD addiction, it is possible to have an adverse reaction to cannabidiol. Talking to your doctor first and starting with a low dose can reduce the risk of unwanted side effects.

A Word From Verywell

CBD doesn’t appear to be addictive, but that doesn’t mean that it is right for everyone. If you are thinking about trying CBD, discuss it with your doctor first. Be sure to tell your healthcare provider about any other medications you might be taking in order to prevent any potential drug interactions. Watch for side effects and don’t take more than the dose that your doctor recommends.