Marijuana used to be the only way that people were able to get high with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). But with the legalization of hemp came a whole host of cannabinoids that are able to circumvent the current laws that make marijuana illegal federally. Among these is delta-8 THC. Delta-8 THC is another form of THC that has a slightly different chemical structure, offering similar effects. But while it’s widely available and growingly popular, not many may know much about it or its addictive potential.
In the guide below, we’ll take a closer look at what delta-8 is, how it impacts you, and whether or not it’s addictive.
Understanding Delta-8 THC
When most people hear the term “THC”, they think about marijuana. But delta-9 THC, the main compound in marijuana, is but one of many forms of THC. Delta-8 THC is a compound derived from hemp plants that’s similar in structure to delta-9. Both have a chain of carbon atoms, and both have a double bond, with delta-8 having the double bond on the eighth carbon and delta-9 having one on the ninth.
Delta-8 is federally legal due to the current Farm Bill. However, many states have established their own laws, and delta-8 may not always be so accessible in the future.
The Effects of Delta-8
It’s important to note that while delta-8 does have a minor deviation away from the chemical structure of delta-9, it’s still very much THC. While some research suggests that delta-8 may be less potent than delta-9, delta-8 still produces the physical and psychoactive effects marijuana is responsible for. This includes higher blood pressure, slower reaction and trouble with coordination, and euphoria. In some cases, the reduced potency may be beneficial for some users. However, those who have an addiction to delta-9 may not find that they’ll fare better with delta-8, even if it’s advertised to be legal or less impactful.
Addiction and Substance Dependence: Basic Concepts
Looking into the potential for addiction to certain substances requires an understanding of the difference between addiction and dependence. Dependence refers to the physical dependence that we may experience with some drugs or compounds, resulting in withdrawal symptoms and a physical need to use something. Addiction refers to the behavior of someone whose brain has changed due to substance abuse. Someone who is dependent on a substance may not exhibit damaging behaviors due to their need for it. Someone who is an addict will do whatever they need to acquire a substance, regardless of whether they negatively affect themselves or others in the process.
It’s also worth noting that some individuals may be at greater risk of becoming addicted to certain substances. Some risk factors include genetics, the environment you’re raised in, and any existing mental health conditions. The substance you choose can also play a role. Opioids, for example, can quickly lead to dependency, with addiction waiting right around the corner.
Research on Delta-8 THC and Addiction
What’s extremely important to know about delta-8 is that it’s a relatively new compound that’s being used today. There’s very little research surrounding delta-8, including research surrounding its potential for addiction. This makes it hard to determine if it could be a problem for those with a potential for addiction or existing substance use disorder.
What we do know, however, is that delta-9 does come with the risk of addiction, especially when used for long periods of time and in higher quantities. Because delta-8 is so closely related to delta-9, it’s reasonable to believe that delta-8 may carry this same risk.
Physical Versus Psychological Dependence
Dependence can pave the way for addiction, but how dependence manifests isn’t the same across the board. For some people, signs of dependence are largely physical. For example, those who have become dependent on caffeine may feel extremely fatigued and experience headaches. However, they may also feel a major shift in mood and experience agitation or irritability until they get their fix, which is representative of psychological dependence.
Delta-9 is a compound that has exhibited both forms of dependence symptoms. The bulk of THC withdrawal symptoms are psychological in nature, encompassing an increase in anxiety and irritability, changes in mood, and even aggression. However, some may also experience physical symptoms like insomnia and a lack of appetite. Continuing with the point made above, delta-8 THC may very well exhibit these same symptoms of dependency. Those who use delta-8 frequently and in higher doses may experience a physical and psychological need to keep using it to keep these symptoms at bay, which can result in full-blown addiction if the right intervention steps aren’t taken as soon as dependency is spotted.
Comparing Addictive Potential of Delta-8 THC to Other Substances
People who are struggling with an addiction to THC often feel invisible because this form of addiction isn’t typically as recognized. Very few want to recognize the risk of addiction to THC because of its impact on legalization efforts or the stigma that comes with THC use.
With that in mind, THC does appear to be the least addictive of the substances that people frequently struggle with. It’s often less addictive than alcohol, much less addictive than cocaine or heroin, and even less addictive than nicotine. Substances that are known to cause physical dependency rapidly are often a greater risk, but that doesn’t mean that the risks of delta-8 should go unaddressed.
Delta-8 is a new and widely-available compound that’s supposed to be safer than delta-9. But just like delta-9, delta-8 could carry the risk of dependency and addiction, even if it’s not as strong as its counterpart. Are you struggling with an addiction to delta-8 that you need support with? Start here with Recreate Behavioral Health. We’re here to offer you the support you need to address your addiction and get the lasting recovery you deserve to live the life you want. Call us now to learn more about taking the next steps to a delta-8-free life.