Is Marijuana Addictive?

Currently, in the United States, marijuana is legal recreationally for persons over the age of 18 in 14 states. At least 34 states have legalized marijuana either for recreational use or medical purposes. As many states continue to pass a bill for the legalization of recreational weed, we can expect these numbers to rise. With many states legalizing marijuana, it’s not surprising that people are left to wonder, is marijuana actually addictive? The short answer is yes. Marijuana can be troublesome for some individuals. Frequent marijuana use has been associated with the development of physiological dependence, withdrawal symptoms, and addiction.

What Are My Odds?

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that roughly one in 10 marijuana users will become addicted. For individuals who begin using before the age of 18, that number rises to one in six. The American Addiction Center listed that about 4 million people struggled with marijuana addiction in 2017 and that over 200,000 received treatment for their addiction in 2015.

Both the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Diagnostic Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) both identify marijuana as an addictive drug. The NIDA also adds that frequent marijuana users can develop problematic use, creating a marijuana use disorder.

What is Marijuana Use Disorder?

Marijuana use disorders are often associated with dependence, meaning that an individual can feel withdrawal symptoms in the absence of that substance. For those that use frequently use marijuana and become dependent on its effects, they can experience the following withdrawal symptoms:

  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Mood and sleep difficulties
  • Decreased appetite
  • Other various forms of physical discomfort

These symptoms have been reported to last up to 2 weeks after quitting and sensitivity to its own endocannabinoid neurotransmitters.” The NIDA reports that marijuana dependence occurs when the brain adapts to large amounts of the substance, and while chemical dependency may not occur as with other substances, marijuana use interfering with a person’s life and an inability to stop using is one of the hallmarks of addiction.

Signs of Marijuana Addiction

It is important to note that most people who use marijuana do not become addicted to it. Those who do become addicted or become dependent upon marijuana will most likely display the classic behavioral symptoms of addiction. These can include:

  • A need for an increase in usage due to having a higher tolerance
  • Spending more time thinking about using
  • The substance will begin to become a priority
  • Additional money and resources will be used to obtain the substance
  • They will start to displace erratic mood swings when they are running out or when they no longer have access to it
  • They will deny claims from others that the substance use has created negative changes

Marijuana and Legalization

As we see more states passing legalization bills for marijuana, the discussion surrounding marijuana addiction has become more complex. In recent years, there have been numerous studies highlighting the benefits of marijuana use to treat certain medical conditions.

One study reported that medical marijuana can help children with seizures and chemotherapy-induced nausea. A 2017 report listed how medical marijuana was being used to assist adult cancer patients with nausea and other symptoms. Some studies also indicate legalizing marijuana can help the misuse of opioids, alcohol, and other substances.

On the other end of the spectrum, many people are worried about the damaging effects that come with the use of marijuana, such as its effect on an individual’s heart health, not to mention the damaging effects marijuana has shown on an individual’s brain functioning.

Legalizing marijuana continues to be a controversial topic nationwide. The medical benefits it continues to show can’t be overlooked. Unfortunately, with the reports of inconsistent potency, and negative symptoms associated with its frequent use, having everybody on the same page when it comes to the legalization of cannabis continues to be a struggle.

Although many states currently do recognize the benefits of marijuana and have chosen to legalize its use, it is not legal federally. In fact, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) still lists marijuana as a schedule 1 drug. Meaning that drugs within this category have no accepted medical use and have a high potential for abuse. The classification marijuana falls under is why so many people have a difficult time when it comes to who supports the legalization of marijuana.

Additionally, there are issues with the inconsistent and increased potency surrounding marijuana. Research conducted by the NIDA listed that in 1990, the average THC content in confiscated marijuana samples was just under 4 percent. In 2014, the THC content had risen to 12 percent.

The controversies, opinions, and disagreements surrounding the legalization of marijuana will continue to ongoing, but what the majority of people can agree on is the decriminalization of it.

More recent studies have shown that marijuana is not only on the rise but that it is a drug of choice. The medical benefits continue to increase: individuals suffering from depression and PTSD, anxiety, as well as certain eating disorders have also reported gaining benefits from marijuana use. Doctors and patients continue to agree that marijuana use can also help those with cancer-related symptoms. Regardless of the benefits and legalization of marijuana, a person can still become addicted to it. Those who do require a marijuana addiction can receive professional help. If you or someone you know is suffering from a marijuana addiction reach out to Achieve Concierge today. We have trained professionals who are here to help. Call us today at (619) 393-5871.

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