Addictive substances are all around us

One of the main considerations when putting any substance into our bodies is whether it has addictive properties.

From everyday products such as tobacco, alcohol and chocolate to frequently used medications such as benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax) and opioids, it’s important to be careful about quantities consumed and wise to the potential effects of continued or excessive use.

What about CBD and cannabis?

When discussing CBD in this context, we need to make a clear separation between CBD (cannabidiol) and cannabis.

According to the US government research body NIDA (National Institute of Drug Abuse), around 30% of people using cannabis (which also includes the psychoactive THC – tetrahydrocannabinol) experience some sort of use disorder. While not the same as the physical addiction caused by a chemical like nicotine, this is still something to be mindful of. The figure is also likely to be affected by the drug’s illegality, because most cannabis users around the world do not benefit from any professional medical oversight. 

Isolated CBD, on the other hand, is not believed to have similar effects. As CBD does not create a ‘high’, there is a much more limited potential to become dependent on it.

CBD considered safe and healthy

The potential benefits of CBD relating to sleep, pain, anxiety and inflammation – if proved beyond doubt by research – do raise a small risk of a person becoming habitually dependent in treatment of these conditions. But experts point out that a mild dependence is not the same as a physical addiction – and that CBD is in any case a naturally occurring chemical within the human body.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that CBD “exhibits no effects indicative of abuse or dependency”, and poses no health-related risks to humans – so at this stage there is no evidence that prolonged use should be of concern.

CBD may help with opioid withdrawal

Another interesting part of this discussion is around whether CBD could actually help users withdraw from other addictive substances. A small-scale study with a control group of former heroin users indicates that in comparison with a placebo, CBD reduced anxiety and cravings when participants were shown videos with drug-related cues. Other studies relating to alcohol and cocaine are also ongoing.

MBC says:

As we have stated elsewhere on the site, more large-scale trial data is needed before firm conclusions can be reached. But at the current level of medical understanding, CBD should not be considered addictive, and it is hoped that with further studies, it may become an effective treatment for people with more serious physical addictions. 

At MBC we want to promote a transparent cannabis industry supported by medical research and progressive legalization.

Nothing in this article should be construed as advice regarding the medical or legal status of cannabis products