Cannabidiol (CBD) is an active ingredient in cannabis that is derived from the hemp plant, but it does not cause a high and is not addictive. CBD has been shown to be effective in treating conditions like pain, insomnia, and anxiety. Is it possible to develop a CBD addiction? Learn more about current evidence on whether addiction is possible and other side effects that CBD may have. Wondering if CBD gummies are addictive? Learn more about CBD, what it is, how it's extracted, and why it's not addictive.
Cannabidiol (CBD): What we know and what we don’t
Cannabidiol (CBD) is often covered in the media, and you may see it touted as an add-in booster to your post-workout smoothie or morning coffee. You can even buy a CBD-infused sports bra. But what exactly is CBD? And why is it so popular?
How is cannabidiol different from marijuana, cannabis and hemp?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is the second most prevalent active ingredient in cannabis (marijuana). While CBD is an essential component of medical marijuana, it is derived directly from the hemp plant, a cousin of marijuana, or manufactured in a laboratory. One of hundreds of components in marijuana, CBD does not cause a “high” by itself. According to a report from 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.”
Is cannabidiol legal?
CBD is readily obtainable in most parts of the United States, though its exact legal status has been in flux. All 50 states have laws legalizing CBD with varying degrees of restriction. In December 2015, the FDA eased the regulatory requirements to allow researchers to conduct CBD trials. In 2018, the Farm Bill made hemp legal in the United States, making it virtually impossible to keep CBD illegal – that would be like making oranges legal, but keeping orange juice illegal.
The Farm Bill removed all hemp-derived products, including CBD, from the Controlled Substances Act, which criminalizes the possession of drugs. In essence, this means that CBD is legal if it comes from hemp, but not if it comes from cannabis (marijuana) – even though it is the exact same molecule. Currently, many people obtain CBD online without a medical marijuana license, which is legal in most states.
The evidence for cannabidiol health benefits
CBD has been touted for a wide variety of health issues, but the strongest scientific evidence is for its effectiveness in treating some of the cruelest childhood epilepsy syndromes, such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), which typically don’t respond to antiseizure medications. In numerous studies, CBD was able to reduce the number of seizures, and, in some cases, stop them altogether. Epidiolex, which contains CBD, is the first cannabis-derived medicine approved by the FDA for these conditions.
Animal studies, and self-reports or research in humans, suggest CBD may also help with:
Studies and clinical trials are exploring the common report that CBD can reduce anxiety.
- Insomnia. Studies suggest that CBD may help with both falling asleep and staying asleep.
- Chronic pain. Further human studies are needed to substantiate claims that CBD helps control pain. One animal study from the European Journal of Pain suggests CBD could help lower pain and inflammation due to arthritis when applied to skin. Other research identifies how CBD may inhibit inflammatory and neuropathic pain, which are difficult treat.
- Addiction. CBD can help lower cravings for tobacco and heroin under certain conditions, according to some research in humans. Animal models of addiction suggest it may also help lessen cravings for alcohol, cannabis, opiates, and stimulants.
Is CBD safe?
Side effects of CBD include nausea, fatigue and irritability. CBD can increase the level of blood thinning and other medicines in your blood by competing for the liver enzymes that break down these drugs. Grapefruit has a similar effect with certain medicines.
People taking high doses of CBD may show abnormalities in liver related blood tests. Many non-prescription drugs, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), have this same effect. So, you should let your doctor know if you are regularly using CBD.
A significant safety concern with CBD is that it is primarily marketed and sold as a supplement, not a medication. Currently, the FDA does not regulate the safety and purity of dietary supplements. So, you cannot be sure that the product you buy has active ingredients at the dose listed on the label. In addition, the product may contain other unknown elements. We also don’t know the most effective therapeutic dose of CBD for any particular medical condition.
How can CBD be taken?
CBD comes in many forms, including oils, extracts, capsules, patches, vapes, and topical preparations for use on skin. If you’re hoping to reduce inflammation and relieve muscle and joint pain, a topical CBD-infused oil, lotion or cream – or even a bath bomb — may be the best option. Alternatively, a CBC patch or a tincture or spray designed to be placed under the tongue allows CBD to directly enter the bloodstream.
Outside of the US, the prescription drug Sativex, which uses CBD as an active ingredient, is approved for muscle spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis and for cancer pain. Within the US, Epidiolex is approved for certain types of epilepsy and tuberous sclerosis.
The bottom line on cannabidiol
Some CBD manufacturers have come under government scrutiny for wild, indefensible claims, such that CBD is a cure-all for cancer or COVID-19, which it is not. We need more research but CBD may prove to be a helpful, relatively non-toxic option for managing anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain. Without sufficient high-quality evidence in human studies, we can’t pinpoint effective doses, and because CBD currently is typically available as an unregulated supplement, it’s hard to know exactly what you are getting.
If you decide to try CBD, make sure you are getting it from a reputable source. And talk with your doctor to make sure that it won’t affect any other medicines you take.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Changes in appetite
- Drug interactions
- Dry mouth
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Mood changes
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.
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.
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
American Society of Addiction Medicine. Definition of addiction.
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National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Cannabis (marijuana) and cannabinoids: what you need to know.
By Kendra Cherry
Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.
Are CBD Gummies Addictive? What You Need To Know
Addiction is a mental illness, and it bears many faces. It’s a dangerous illness that can harm not only the user but even those around them. The temptation to be around dangerous substances is more common than one realizes, and it affects people whether they’re as young as teenagers until their adulthood.
It is a valid and significant safety concern among users searching for alternative or added medications for the symptoms or illnesses they are experiencing, such as those chronic pain. This is where CBD or cannabidiol comes in. CBD comes from the hemp plant, a cousin of the well-known cannabis plant. Its medicinal properties and health benefits are an opportunity for scientists, researchers, and medical professionals to find cures and remedies for various chronic illnesses or mental diseases.
While there is such thing as cannabis addiction, there are however marijuana plants that do not have any addictive substance. As it is a close cousin, and it is still considered cannabis, many still wonder: Is CBD addictive?
What you need to know about CBD gummies
These sugary sweets aren’t just your regular candies. These are gummies that have been mixed with CBD oil or hemp seed oil extract. CBD gummies are the newest trend in gaining all-natural healthy snacks while enjoying the taste of fruity-flavored sugar snacks.
CBD products are used for different types of ailments. The benefits of CBD can be to reduce anxiety, depression, chronic pain, muscle or joint pains, and even major diseases like cancer, seizures, and Parkinson’s. The hemp-derived CBG is one of the safest forms of CBD because of the controlled setup and growth of these specific cannabis plants.
CBD oil is extracted during a specific season, and it’s why the plant is being grown in major laboratories in a controlled environment. This ensures that the CBD oil that they extract has its full or pure CBD properties that are safe for human consumption and contribute to a person’s health instead of contributing to a person experiencing psychoactive effects.
This oil, or as others call hemp oil, is being sold by brands online as their premier CBD product that anybody may be able to purchase. These commercially available CBD products have gone through clinical trials to determine their safety and side effects. They are already being used across the State and even made at home.
CBD gummies come in different packages, these are full-spectrum, broad-spectrum and CBD isolate. The full-spectrum gummies contain only a minimum of 0.03% THC content and they should not subject its user to physiological addiction.
Why people use CBD
CBD use has been recommended by some professionals that have seen the reports made by major pharmacies researching its capabilities. CBD has even been approved to use for people experiencing seizures in some States.
While more research is still being undergone to further pursue the overall approval of CBD use for other illnesses and diseases, its properties have shown impressive quality among those who are already taking CBD daily.
CBD, however, is not among you take for dietary supplements, but rather strictly for healing or therapeutic means. As this trend has been ongoing, people use CBD for mental illnesses.
This is because CBD interacts with our endocannabinoid system, which sends signals to our central nervous system that can also affect our mood. Since this is happening within our system CBD’s properties helps with regulating our mood and giving us a sense of calmness when we’re experiencing anxiety or depression.
Besides mental disabilities, CBD also helps with physical ailments. The most common, as mentioned earlier, is chronic pain. The benefits of CBD affect our physical pain as well and helps with being able to alleviate muscle or joint pains. People who have arthritis benefit from this and those with Parkinson’s.
As this article talks about addiction, CBD products have been found to help those experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Since CBD products can be bought as edibles, the chewing sensation and the calming effects of CBD could benefit those trying to remove themselves from certain addictions. That said, CBD itself does not have any psychoactive effects making it safe and unable to give the people of feeling “high” as common with those marijuana users.
How does one get addictive behaviors?
Drugs or addictive substances affect the brain. Consistent and continuous use of harmful substances causes the users to become dependent on the material and have intense cravings. It’s a dangerous health concern because these harmful products can lead not just to addiction but have the potential for users to have a lethal overdose.
Addictive substances send signals associated with pleasure to our brain, also known as dopamine. The dopamine that people feel when taking these substances gives birth to a dangerous addiction and a dependence potential. This can happen even with the amounts of cigarettes smoked or the pills one takes.
As users continue these dangerous practices, the more they search for these psychoactive compounds and rely on the feeling it gives them on a day-to-day basis. Frequent marijuana smokers are prime examples of how addiction happens and their ability to gain drug dependence from the substance.
Though it is worth noting that when it comes to marijuana, there are various types of marijuana plants found all over the world. The medical types or those associated with healing and therapeutic properties come from different types of plants. CBD comes from the cannabis Sativa which doesn’t have properties associated with “being high” as this article will elaborate on in the later paragraphs.
Before you know more about CBD however and how it can affect you, it’s also important to know more about addiction, its symptoms, and how other products may be harmful depending on their ingredients.
Is CBD addictive?
While CBD gummies are extracted from hemp plants or marijuana, it is not addictive. CBD is, instead, also used to help people suffering from addiction through certain forms of CBD treatment.
CBD exhibits healing properties that do not contain the chemicals associated with other dangerous substances that can cause addiction in people. Research shows that CBD can be a healthy material for improvement in everyday immunity especially because of the way CBD is extracted from an environmentally controlled plant.
Scientists have found that the properties of CBD don’t contain intoxicating traits typically found in certain drugs or alcohol. This has also been proven by the World Health Organization, and published that CBD has “no effect indicative of abuse or dependence potential.” It has also been researched that CBD may have the same effects as a placebo pill.
This is one of the reasons that CBD can also be used to treat addiction, such as those experiencing cannabis withdrawal symptoms or those suffering from heroin addiction withdrawals.
Not all CBD, however, is completely avoidant of addictive properties. As mentioned earlier, there are three types of CBD: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate. Full-spectrum CBDs contain 0.03% of THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol. THC is a particular substance that can also be extracted from marijuana which can give users the feeling of being “high.”
The minimum recommended amount is 0.03% but some products have been sold with higher THC content. If you want to take CBD safely and without the consequences of addiction, check the ingredients carefully and make sure that it does not have THC content and contains only properties that are beneficial to your health.
Are CBD gummies safe?
Short answer: yes. CBD gummies are safe, as even the World Health Organization has stated. It is not known to have any adverse effects on people who consume CBD and it is great for a person’s overall health quality when consumed in proper dosages.
However, CBD gummies are not simple candies. They still contain chemicals that only work when you have imbalances in your body that CBD can help correct through interacting with the endocannabinoid system. You should never take too much of your recommended dosage or add in too much CBD oil if you are making your own CBD edibles.
This is to be completely safe with your dosages and to avoid more side effects that can be associated with CBD, which this article will also elaborate on further.
You should also consult with your doctor on your recommended dosage, as this is usually determined by your height, weight, age, or if you also have any underlying conditions, such as high blood pressure, or are taking any maintenance medications.
People’s reactions to CBD also differ greatly as some people’s bodies have a lower tolerance for CBD, while others react quickly to its effects. If it will be your first time taking CBD, take the dosages slowly first and take note of the time you take it and how long the effects of the CBD can kick in.
You can rest assured that there is no way you can overdose on CBD because it isn’t a substance that’s addictive or possesses any addictive processes within its ingredients. But be sure to always read the label and check its low or high CBD strains to be sure of what you’re taking and how much you are taking.
Can you take CBD with other medications?
If you have underlying conditions and taking maintenance medications, it’s important to consider consulting your doctor before consuming any form of CBD. This is because cannabidiol (CBD) may counteract the effects of your current medications, especially if the ingredients of the medications don’t balance well with the CBD.
However, some medications or vitamins go great by combining them with the benefits of CBD. But if it will be your first time, always check with your doctor and check the ingredients of the product.
On websites that sell CBD, you will also be able to see the lab reports performed by reputable brands. These lab reports will let you know its effects and if it’s the right type of CBD for you to take along with your current medications.
Side effects of CBD gummies
As stated above, CBD is not known to have any adverse effects. It also has no addictive properties and it won’t give you any addiction or drug dependency toward CBD edibles. But, just as some medications would have, CBD gummies also have reported side effects that other users have taken note of.
Some of these side effects include drowsiness or fatigue, diarrhea, and dry mouth. Not everyone may react to CBD this way, however, and some may not even feel the side effects making their way through their system, but these are the most common symptoms that others have reported when consuming CBD gummies.
Before taking CBD daily, take note of the dosage that you’re taking and notice if there are any side effects that you experienced after consumption. Then you may adjust along the way. It is safe to adjust your dosage amounts along the way as taking CBD may require a few trial and error.
Understandably, you may be worried at first about consuming something new and unfamiliar. But quick research and notes from reputable websites and organizations can give you the ease of mind that CBD is a safe compound to consume.
Research will always be your best friend when thinking about trying something new, especially when it comes to food. So you can rest assured that CBD is safe and healthy, and it’s one of the most popular trends in taking all-natural products that can benefit you in the long run. It’s also important to remember to practice moderation in all things, including CBD, and to always consult your doctor before trying anything that will you with your illnesses.
Disclaimer: The information and products contained on this website have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. You are advised to consult with your health care practitioner prior to use.