Addiction is a mental disorder causing a psychological and physical inability to stop consuming a chemical and/or substance and an inability to stop partaking in certain activities.

  • What is Addiction?
  • Addiction & cannabinoids
  • Text references, literature discussion
    & clinical trials

What is Addiction?

Addiction is a mental disorder causing a psychological and physical inability to stop consuming a chemical and/or substance and an inability to stop partaking in certain activities, even though it may cause harm to oneself or the addict’s social circle and surroundings.1

It is important to distinguish between addiction and misuse, as misuse refers to incorrect or excessive use of e.g. substances whilst addiction is a long-term inability or loss of control over substance intake or participation in activities.1

Common substance addictions:

  • Alcohol
  • Drugs
  • Smoking

Common activity addictions:

  • Gambling
  • Sport/fitness
  • Work


  • Uncontrollably seeking chemicals or substances
  • Uncontrollably participating in harmful “habits”
  • Losing interest and neglecting activities that do not involve the addiction
  • Inability to stop harmful behavior though it may cause personal-, professional- and health problems.
  • Increased risk-taking to engage in the addiction
  • Exercising secrecy about problems that may occur as a result of the addiction.
  • Change in appearances
  • Cannabinoids
  • Cannabinoid receptors
  • Endocannabinoids

  • CBD
  • THC

  • CB1
  • CB2
  • μ-opioid receptor

  • Anadamide
  • 2AG
  • Terpenes
  • Strains
  • Enzymes
  • Metabolites

  • Caryophyllene


  • MAGL
  • DAGL


The connection between Addiction
& cannabinoids

Addiction Brain Pill Xray

Clinical data propose that THC and CBD may be used in the therapeutic treatment of addiction, as many cannabinoid receptors can be found in the dopaminergic neurons system..
As such, THC and CBD may offer opportunities for beneficial interaction for different types of addictions here among alcohol, food, nicotine, or opioids.2

Furthermore, recent findings support that CBD may help in reducing relapse in two beneficial ways; 1) it may support actions between several vulnerability states, and 2) have a long-lasting positive effect in preventing relapse with only brief treatment.3

Note: If you have any further information relevant to the connection between Addiction and cannabinoids, or find any of the information inaccurate, outdated, or incomplete please contact us here.

Text references, literature discussion
& clinical trials

  • Text references
  • Literature discussion
  • Clinical trials

Cancer, neurogenerative diseases, ischemic injuries, inflammation, pain, anxiety, nausea, and drug-withdrawal symptoms could possibly be treated by MAGL inhibitors, which showed potential therapeutic action (Chen et al., 2012; Kohnz & Nomura, 2014; Mulvihill & Nomura, 2013).

Biosynthesis of 2-AG was increased in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) after rats were exposed to nicotine. GABA signaling is reduced by 2-AG, leading to an increased VTA sensitivity to nicotine and increased sensitization of DA release in the nucleus accumbens. GABA signaling in the VTA was restored by DAGL suppression, suggesting that DAGL can be a good target when treating addictions (Buczynski et al., 2016).
Following the same line, DAGLα expression in rat nucleus accumbens and depolarization-induced suppression of inhibition were increased by morphine withdrawal. This suggests that 2-AG plays a role in mediating this process (Wang et al., 2016). Moreover, very similar results were found in a study that focused to test the effects of cocaine in orexin neurons (Tung et al., 2016).

CB1 is a member of the G protein-coupled receptor and can be found in the parts of the brain that mostly play a role in addictive behavior. It was shown that increased receptor binding and increased CB1 -mediated neuronal activation in the prefrontal cortex can be connected to at least one genetic variation/polymorphism in CB1 (Hutchison et al., 2008). Activation of the nucleus accumbens, ventromedial prefrontal cortex, orbitofrontal cortex, and ventral tegmental area as well as subjective appreciation of alcohol can be increased by alcohol exposure. Similar linkage to addiction risk showed that interaction between THC and Mu opioid receptor is weak, suggesting that Mu opioid can be considered as a cannabinoid receptor (Hutchison et al., 2008; Pertwee et al., 2010).

Post-mortem research proposes that though the expression is not affected, CB1 receptors have been shown to have hyperactivity in the caudate nucleus and hypoactive in the cerebellum of alcoholics (Erdozain et al., 2015).

Dopaminergic signaling in the nucleus accumbens can be blocked and alcohol craving and consumption can be reduced through blocking the reward signal with CB1 antagonists (reference within Hutchison et al., 2008).

In one study in rats, addictive behavior (cocaine-seeking) can be reduced via chronic stimulation of the endocannabinoid system (Anandamide). This proposes that the endocannabinoid system can be involved in inhibiting addiction (Chauvet et al., 2014).

Mice that drink more alcohol and eat more food have been shown to be genetically deficient for CB2. This proposes that CB2 could be a target to treat addiction (Pradier et al., 2015).

Clinical trials

In one fMRI study, it was demonstrated that THC can help in decreasing the anticipatory nucleus accumbens response to nicotine. This suggests that the endocannabinoid system is involved in addictive behavior (Jansma et al., 2013).

A pilot, randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study aimed to assess the effect of CBD in people who wanted to stop smoking. It was found that cigarette consumption was significantly reduced in smokers by the treatment with CBD (Morgan et al., 2013).

Want to know more about Addiction?

Then signup our FREE newsletter below