Is Marijuana Addictive?

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The truth is, yes! Marijuana is addictive – it’s a substance, afterall. Many people don’t think marijuana can be addictive. They don’t associate addiction with cannabis. They understand that every other substance has the potential to be addictive – but the line is drawn at marijuana. Do you know anyone like that? The public generally views marijuana as harmless, non addictive, and non habit forming. Yet, people also know that drugs like prescription painkillers, benzodiazepines, cocaine, and methamphetamine are addictive and dangerous. Moreover, most people acknowledge that their first experience with drugs was marijuana – and they may have moved onto other drugs from there. So, where’s the disconnect? 

What does “Substance Addiction” mean? 

Substance addiction is the overwhelming compulsion to use a substance, even if you know it comes with negative consequences. Before a person is addicted, they become tolerant to the drug and then dependent on it. No matter the substance, there is a withdrawal associated with quitting. The worst withdrawals are alcohol, benzodiazepines, and opiates – but any drug withdrawal can be rough and psychologically taxing. 

What is Marijuana Addiction? 

Addiction to marijuana is more common than most people realize. Truth be told, marijuana use is incredibly common as well. Just about half of the United States population has used marijuana at least once in their life – and about 10% of those that have used marijuana will develop an addiction to it – plus about 30% will develop a substance use disorder as a result of their use, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse

In 2015, around four million people in the US met the diagnostic criteria for substance use disorder surrounding their use of marijuana – but less than 150,000 sought treatment for it. That means that most people who are addicted to marijuana will not receive addiction counseling. 

What are the Symptoms of Marijuana Addiction? 

Marijuana addiction is also known as Cannabis Use Disorder and Cannabis Dependence, according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA). The APA recently put out a list of symptoms associated with marijuana use disorder and dependence. Here they are: 

  • Increased marijuana usage
  • Using larger amounts of it, even when you didn’t want to
  • Using marijuana for a longer period of time, even when you didn’t want to
  • An inability to quit 
  • Wanting to quit or cutback, but being unsuccessful at it 
  • Experiencing cravings
  • Wanting to use marijuana during specific times of the day
  • The substance is having an effect on work and school performance
  • It is getting in the way of your personal relationshionships 
  • Don’t want to quit, even though these problems are occuring
  • Your spouse, parent, or other family members have called you out for your marijuana use
  • Using marijuana while operating a motor vehicle
  • Using it while responsible for taking care of children 
  • Ignoring obligations in order to get high

What are the Symptoms of Marijuana Withdrawal?

Marijuana withdrawal occurs when you have not ingested marijuana for a period of time, usually hours or days, depending on previous use. If you’ve been using cannabis for years, the withdrawal may be uncomfortable. If you’ve been using it for a few months, you may only feel a light headache. Withdrawal happens as your body’s response to not having the substance. Although marijuana withdrawal is more mild than heroin or benzodiazepine withdrawal, it may still be difficult to get through. Here are some of the symptoms associated with withdrawal: 

  • Irritability 
  • Anger
  • Aggression
  • Anxiety 
  • Nervousness
  • Jitteriness
  • Restlessness
  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia) 
  • No appetite
  • Depressed mood
  • Sadness
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Aches and pains
  • Tremors
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Sweating 

Marijuana addiction can be especially difficult for teens and adolescents. Those in that age group are at particular risk of developing a tolerance and/or dependence to marijuana. This is especially true if the person starts using it from a young age. The younger the user, the higher probability that their use will result in addiction. The adolescent brain is still developing, so this naturally puts young people at a higher risk of addiction and use can also have other negative impacts on development. The good news is, the sooner teens get into treatment, the better their chance of success. Outpatient drug addiction counseling is one great option. Marijuana addiction in young people can be severe and cause problems that last the rest of their lives, including: 

  • Adverse brain development
  • Trouble at school 
  • A higher risk of trouble with mental health issues, like anxiety, depression, and psychosis
  • A higher risk of behavioral issues, sexually transmitted disease, teenage pregnancy, delinquency, and dropping out of school
  • Failure to launch syndrome (not wanting to leave the parent’s home) 
  • Increased likelihood of “graduating” to other drugs, including opiates, stimulants, and tobacco

In Conclusion

Marijuana addiction is something that should be handled right away. Even though there are many Americans with an addiction to marijuana, very few actually seek treatment. Don’t let that be you or your loved one. If you think you or someone you love is addicted to marijuana, get help today.

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