Even though delta-8 is derived from hemp, experts suspect that this drug may carry a risk of addiction as well as other negative health effects.
Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is a substance that is derived from hemp. It is chemically similar to delta-9 THC, and both drugs are Schedule I controlled substances.
Delta-8 THC shares similarities to delta-9 THC, but the drug remains a mystery to many experts. Although delta-8 THC may be growing in popularity throughout the United States, researchers are still studying the drug, its addictive potential and how it works in the body.
What Is Delta-8?
Delta-8 is a synthetic (manmade) derivative of cannabidiol (CBD). The drug is structurally similar to delta-9, also known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the main psychoactive component in marijuana.
As a Schedule I controlled substance, delta-8 has no recognized medical benefits. Although some claim that delta-8 has benefits like pain relief, this has not been proven, and the drug remains unregulated. The drug is sold in various forms, including vapes, oils, gummies and edibles. Sometimes, the drug is not specifically labeled in a product and is sold under the umbrella of hemp.
Delta-9 vs. Delta-8
Although delta-9 and delta-8 are very similar Schedule I controlled substances, they have some differences. Delta-9 (or THC) is a natural component of cannabis, while delta-8 is a synthetic derivative of cannabidiol. In addition, delta-9 binds more strongly to the brain’s CB1 receptor than delta-8, meaning that delta-8 is less potent than delta-9. However, both delta-9 and delta-8 bind equally strongly to the brain’s CB2 receptor.
THC-O vs. Delta-8
Little scientific information is available about tetrahydrocannabinol acetate, also known as THC-O. Like delta-8, THC-O is a hemp-derived synthetic substance. However, THC-O may be as much as three times more potent than delta-9 THC. Like delta-8 THC, THC-O’s legality is highly debated, and its safety is unclear.
Does Delta-8 Make You High?
Delta-9 makes you high in a way that is similar to delta-9 cannabis, and the doses that are used are also similar. People who use delta-8 report similar effects to delta-9, including feeling high and relaxed when using the substance.
How Long Does the Delta-8 High Last?
Very little is known about how quickly it takes a delta-8 high to start or wear off. Although experts believe smoking delta-8 can lead to a high within minutes, the drug has not been well studied when taken by other routes, such as by mouth.
Is Delta-8 Legal?
Delta-8 is not legal in the United States and is a Schedule I controlled substance at the federal level. Although some sellers claim that delta-8 is legal because it is a hemp product, experts state this is a misinterpretation of the law.
State laws are evolving in regard to delta-8 as experts continue to debate its legal status. Some people debate that it falls under the same state laws as cannabis, while others claim it falls under more permissive hemp laws. There are pending lawsuits on the topic to give a clearer answer in the future.
Is Delta-8 Safe?
Delta-8 is not safe and has resulted in medical emergencies and calls to poison control centers. Between December 2020 and February 2022, the FDA received more than 100 reports of major safety concerns, side effects and overdose with delta-8 THC in both children and adults.
Because delta-8 is naturally produced at low levels in hemp, the FDA has warned that some manufacturers may use unsafe chemicals to increase the level of delta-8 in products, further compounding the safety issues surrounding its use. These chemicals include adulterants and chemical byproducts. Even heavy metals like mercury and lead have been found in commercial delta-8 products.
Delta-8 Side Effects
Delta-8’s side effects are similar to those of cannabis and include:
- Worry and anxiety
- Lowered inhibitions
- Hunger and thirst
- Laughter and giggles
Delta-8 Long-Term Effects
Unfortunately, little is known about the long-term effects of delta-8. While delta-9 THC has been extensively studied, the same cannot be said for delta-8. For this reason, it is important to be very cautious if you use the drug, as the long-term effects are largely unknown.
Is Delta-8 Addictive?
As a Schedule I controlled substance, delta-8 carries a high risk of abuse, addiction and dependence. However, the extent of the drug’s addictive potential is unclear.
Symptoms of Addiction
Because so little is known about delta-8 THC, possible addiction symptoms are unclear. However, symptoms of substance addiction include:
- Using more of the substance, or using it over a longer period than originally intended
- Unsuccessful attempts to cut down or control substance use
- Spending a lot of time obtaining, using or recovering from the substance
- Craving the substance
- Recurrent substance use that leads to problems keeping up with obligations
- Social or interpersonal problems from continued substance use
- Giving up or reducing other activities because of substance use
- Using the substance even when it is physically hazardous to do so
- Continuing the substance even though you know it is harming you
- Needing more of the substance to achieve the same effects as before
- Withdrawal symptoms when you try to quit the substance
Although delta-9 THC can cause withdrawal symptoms if you use it on a regular basis and suddenly stop, it is not known if the same is true for delta-8. The two substances work on similar receptors in the brain, but delta-8 is considered to be less potent than delta-9. Further, it does not fully activate the brain’s CB1 receptors in the same way as delta-9. However, it is unclear if this means that the drug’s withdrawal symptoms would be different.
A delta-8 THC overdose is possible, and more than 2,300 poison control cases were opened between January 2021 and February 2022 regarding the substance. About 70% of these cases required hospital admission, and 8% required admission to an intensive care unit. Children appear to be even more at risk of overdose than adults, and there has been one reported death linked to delta-8.
Since delta-8 is an unregulated substance, it is difficult to prevent a delta-8 overdose other than by avoiding the drug. There are no standards to control how much delta-8 THC is contained in a product. For this reason, the best way to avoid a delta-8 overdose is to stay away from the drug.
Overdose symptoms and toxic effects from delta-8 THC have been reported to the FDA. These include:
- Loss of consciousness
If you suspect someone is overdosing on delta-8 THC, you should immediately seek emergency medical attention.
Find Help for Delta-8 Addiction in New Jersey
Delta-8 and other synthetic cannabinoids can be just as harmful as any other addictive substance. It can be hard to overcome substance abuse and live a life of sobriety on your own, but help is available at The Recovery Village Cherry Hill at Cooper. Contact us today to learn more about our addiction treatment programs and begin the path to a healthier, substance-free future in recovery.
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