Addressing a Common Misconception: Is Delta-8 THC Addictive?

Delta-8 THC is one of the 100+ different cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. It is very similar to Delta 9 THC (the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana), but it produces far milder effects by comparison. So while it will get someone high, it will be a less intense high than they would likely experience with most strains of marijuana. Yet this reputation as the “less extreme” version of marijuana has left some people with the impression that Delta-8 isn’t as addictive.

But is this true? 

Is Delta-8 THC Legal?

Part of the reason for Delta-8 THC’s “less dangerous” reputation is that, due to a loophole, it is legal in most U.S. states, even ones where marijuana itself remains illegal. Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp and all of its derivatives were made legal at the federal level, including Delta-8. This means that currently, Delta-8 products are federally legal, so long as they were derived from industrial hemp. There has been a lot of legal back-and-forth about Delta-8 though, with many arguing that the Farm Bill didn’t (or shouldn’t cover) intoxicating substances.

For now, Delta-8 THC is legal at the federal level, but the following states have barred its sale at the state level: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Utah.

Can Delta-8 THC Be Addictive?

Addiction is a complicated issue that goes beyond any inherent addictiveness of a given substance. After all, people can become “addicted” to gambling, food, pornography, and a bunch of other things that aren’t “classically addictive” like cocaine or heroin. All substances that change the way people feel are addictive, and that includes Delta-8 THC. Granted, Delta-8 is mild compared to Delta-9-rich marijuana, but it is still equally capable of being addictive if over-used.

With that being said, it may take longer for addiction to Delta-8 to develop and a person’s withdrawal symptoms may be less severe when compared to other more dangerous drugs, or even standard marijuana. All the same, the longer and more often a person uses the drug, the higher their tolerance will become, provoking them to increase their dosage or frequency of use. Chronic Delta-8 use can also cause physical and mental dependency.

What Are the Signs of Delta-8 Addiction?

If you’re looking for signs of Delta-8 addiction, you’re ultimately just looking for the warning signs of marijuana addiction in general. The immediate side effects of excessive marijuana usage include:

  • Paranoia
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Overeating or loss of appetite
  • Impaired motor function
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Impaired cognition

Long-term side effects of cannabis addiction include:

  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Reduced ability to learn
  • Lung infections
  • Inhibited mental development
  • Panic attacks
  • Memory loss

Along with these conditions, the main feature of any type of addiction is continued use of a substance or activity, regardless of the clear negative consequences on one’s health, social relationships, or general wellbeing. Some might also continue to use Delta-8 despite having negative effects, such as coughing, lethargy, or nausea. In general though, if you’re using Delta-8 despite there being obvious reasons to stop, then you might have a problem.

It is worth noting that while it might take longer for someone to become dependent on Delta-8, you can start to build up a tolerance for it fairly quickly, with some reporting it after just two weeks of daily use. If you use Delta-8 regularly, you will likely find you will need higher doses to get the same effect.

What is a Tolerance Break?

A tolerance break is a scheduled break that allows the body to reverse any tolerance formed towards a substance before it becomes noticeable. There are many different philosophies regarding tolerance breaks and how often they should be done. For Delta-8 THC, the most effective option usually is to take three days off per week of usage, though some argue that taking one week off for every three weeks will do the job as well. Also, you should always start with a lower dose than usual after you’ve taken a tolerance break.

Either way, as long as you take periodic breaks, you should be able to keep your tolerance to Delta-8 at bay, which reduces how much of it you’ll need to get high and limits the likelihood of overuse.

Managing Your Relationship With Delta-8

Delta-8 THC might not be as dangerous and addictive as many other drugs, but it should still be used with caution, as it can be addictive under certain circumstances. People who have a history of substance use disorder should avoid using any forms of THC, legal or illegal, unless directed to do so by a physician. Otherwise, remember to take periodic tolerance breaks and be aware of how your body responds to Delta-8.

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