THC and CBD: Dependence and Addiction

It is also important to consider the potential for dependence and addiction when taking products containing CBD and THC. Because CBD does not possess intoxicating properties, it does not have the potential to cause addiction. THC, on the other hand, attaches to the endocannabinoid receptors that are linked to the brain’s reward system. This can produce feelings of pleasure and euphoria, as well as create the potential for dependence and addiction.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) defines addiction as a compulsive need to continue using a substance despite experiencing negative consequences.

Research suggests that using products with higher THC levels is linked to a higher risk for addiction. While CBD products often purport to have no THC or very low levels of THC, they often contain more than labels suggest. This means that taking CBD may lead to accidental exposure to THC, which could potentially lead to addiction if taken in sufficient amounts.

If you think you might have an addiction to THC, talk to your doctor about available treatments. Treatments typically involve psychotherapy, although medications may sometimes be prescribed to treat co-occurring mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression. 

Types of therapy that might be helpful include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): This approach can help people change the negative thought patterns that influence substance use. CBT also teaches people new coping skills that can be helpful when coping with cravings and other symptoms.
  • Motivational enhancement therapy (MET): This treatment approach can help people adjust their beliefs and develop a stronger motivation to overcome their addiction.

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