Is CBD Addictive? Understand the Side Effects and Uses

CBD stands for cannabidiol, and it’s one of the most active ingredients found in cannabis (also known as marijuana). There is, at present, scientific evidence that suggests the risk of cannabis dependence or addiction in some people could increase when it’s used heavily. 

However, on its own, has not shown any signs of being addictive. 

That said, it should be noted that CBD usage’s long-term effects are only in the early stages of research. It is actually CBD’s counterpart THC (delta-tetrahydrocannabinol) that ends up causing psychoactive effects. Still, it leaves a number of people wondering as to whether it is addictive or not.

What are the uses of CBD?

  • Chronic pain relief

A recent study in New Zealand looked into the CBD use of 400 people with mental health issues and chronic pain. They all reported improvements in their quality of life after they used CBD. Researchers also found no significant side effects from the use of CBD. If anything, participants shared that their appetite and sleep had actually gotten better.

Full-spectrum hemp-extracted CBD considerably reduced the neuropathic pain of mice that were part of a study in 2020.

There was an interesting CBD-related review released during that year as well. Authors stated that it could be possible to use cannabis-based treatment as an alternative for pain medication that’s opioid-based. It’s worth noting that they highlighted the fact that most of the studies combined CBD and THC. This makes assessing CBD’s pain management benefits by itself rather difficult for the time being.

  • Epilepsy seizure reduction

One of the biggest medical benefits of CBD that has been widely researched is that it’s an alternative treatment for epileptic seizures. There was a clinical trial done in 2018 with 60 adults and 72 children whose epilepsy was treatment-resistant. They got 5-50mg (milligrams) per kilogram of body weight of CBD every day.

Researchers found that 2/3 of those participants experienced a seizure frequency reduction of at least 25% in the midst of getting treatment.

Epidiolex was approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in 2018. It’s the first anti-seizure treatment that’s pure-CBD. It was approved particularly for the treatment of Dravet syndrome, Lennox-Gastuaut syndrome, and other rare forms of epilepsy. They cite clinical evidence that suggests that people who suffer from Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes and take Epidiolex with other seizure medications, had fewer seizures than those taking other seizure medications or a placebo.

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  • Possible lessening of anxiety 

There is current research ongoing as to whether it could possibly help in lessening anxiety. Evidence has been conflicting thus far, which means additional high-quality and controlled trials are necessary for verification.

During a study in 2019 of 72 adults with anxiety and sleep problems, researchers examined the effects of CBD treatment. A whopping 79.2% of the participants reported a reduction of their anxiety symptoms within the first month. In that same time frame, better sleep quality was reported by 66.7%.

60 adults with no mental health illness, drug dependence, or anxiety in their medical history became part of a study in 2017. They were given a 1 mg dose of clonazepam or 100, 300, or 900 mg doses prior to giving a speech. Recipients of the 300 mg dose had their social anxiety scores reduced significantly before, during, and after public speaking. In contrast, those who took the 100 and 900 mg dose still had high anxiety levels. There were no physical effects from it; the clonazepam, on the other hand, lowered heart rate or blood pressure.

Aside from what’s already been mentioned, there are some effects of CBD that still need more research. Take note that these have only manifested, so far, in animals:

  • Cancer inhibition
  • Immune system regulation
  • Inflammation reduction
  • Nausea suppression

Does CBD show up on a drug test?

CBD on its own has absolutely no reason to appear on a drug test. However, it should be noted that several CBD products have trace amounts of the main ingredient in marijuana: THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). When there’s enough THC present, that will appear on a drug test. There will be rare cases wherein CBD will end up leading to a drug test turning positive. Ultimately, this is dependent on the composition and quality of the product/s used.

Typically, drug tests screen for THC-COOH, one of the main metabolites of THC, or THC itself. According to the Mayo Clinic Proceedings from 2017, federal workplace drug testing cut-off values were established to avoid trace amounts of THC or THC-COOH, leading to a positive drug test. It’s possible to pass a drug test with THC or THC-COOH in your system; in those cases, this just means it’s below the predetermined cut-off value.

Other potential reasons for CBD causing a drug test result to read positive include:

  • Cross-contamination

It’s possible for cross-contamination to happen even when there are only trace amounts of THC during the CBD manufacturing process. This is more likely for manufacturers with products that have THC only, CBD only, or the two combined. When the product is already in your home or store, however, it’s also still possible. CBD oil being amidst other substances which have THC will open up the possibility for cross-contamination.

  • Mislabeled products

Since the regulation of its products isn’t consistent, there’s usually no third party testing the composition of a product. In the Netherlands, a study conducted in 2017 evaluated the label accuracy on 84 CBD-only products bought through the internet. THC was detected in 18 of the tested products. 

While this suggests a commonality in the mislabeling of products, there needs to be more research before any confirmation of whether or not this holds true for American CBD products.

  • Secondhand THC exposure

The likelihood of testing positive after being exposed to secondhand marijuana smoke isn’t high at all, but it’s still there. According to research, the amount of THC absorbed through secondhand smoke could depend on factors such as the area’s size and ventilation, as well as marijuana’s potency.

So, is CBD addictive or not? 

There are no intoxicating effects produced by CBD. With that in mind, there are no addiction-related effects attributed to CBD. Even the World Health Organization (WHO) has weighed in; according to a 2017 Pre-Review Report, “evidence from well-controlled human experimental research indicates that CBD is not associated with abuse potential.” 

There was a small study of 31 adults done in 2016, and the results showed CBD did not affect blood pressure, cognitive function, or heart rate; in comparison, THC produced substantial psychological and physical effects, including euphoria and rapid heart rate. When it came to self-reported feelings of intoxication, CBD performed similarly to a placebo. The THC group, on the other hand, reported feeling sedated and euphoric.


While CBD is one of the main active ingredients in cannabis (also known as marijuana), it does not have any psychoactive effects. It’s safe to say that CBD, on its own, is not addictive. In fact, it can possibly be used medically, such as in the treatment of drug addiction, epilepsy seizures, mental health issues such as anxiety, and more. Some CBD products have trace amounts of THC, which can trigger a drug test.