Fact vs Fiction On Marijuana Addiction | cannabisMD

Separating Fact From Fiction On Marijuana Addiction

Explaining the truth about marijuana addiction

Image Credit: By Jose L. Stephens on shutterstock.

Addiction takes different forms such as physical and/or psychological effects. Read on to discover the truths and myths behind cannabis, is marijuana addictive? Do you want to know the truth about marijuana addiction? Marijuana is classified by the DEA as a Schedule 1 psychoactive drug. According to the DEA, marijuana has “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” But the real question is: how is this drug abused, and is marijuana addictive?

You’ll find answers to this question on both sides of the fence. When discussing marijuana in the context of addiction, it’s important to separate fact from fiction. Read on for insight into marijuana and addiction so that you can be informed about cannabis use.

What is Addiction?

It’s important to define the word “addiction” when answering the question “Is marijuana addictive?” Addiction occurs when you ingest a substance (such as alcohol, drugs, or food) or pursue an activity for a variety of reasons. Often, these substances or activities are pleasurable on many levels. The pursuit of these activities and/or substances becomes addictive when it becomes compulsive. That is when you become obsessed with the need to do the activity or consume the substance.

Addiction can interfere in all parts of your life. It can affect relationships, lifestyle, physical health, and mental states. People can become addicted to things for many different reasons. It’s not just a pleasure factor. Before we answer the question, “Is marijuana addictive?” let’s talk about the different types of addiction out there.

Physical Addiction

Physical addictions are physical dependences on substances or activities. When people talk about alcohol or drug addictions, they often talk about this dependence. Physical addiction occurs when your body starts to depend on a particular substance, often developing a tolerance. Tolerance occurs when the basic effects of a drug no longer have as powerful an effect on the body. As a result, the addict may start consuming for of a substance or doing more of an activity.

As an example, let’s look at alcohol. The body can develop a tolerance to certain levels of alcohol in its system over time. As a result, an alcoholic will need to consume more alcohol at any given time to have achieved a powerful effect. The body may even start to require alcohol in order to keep certain withdrawal symptoms at bay. Physical addictions are the most dangerous because of these withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can be deadly to a number of people, depending on the severity of an addiction.

Psychological Addiction

Physical and psychological addictions go hand in hand. Very often one influences the other. The psychological addiction can rely on environmental cues or stimulus. But mostly it all happens inside a person’s brain: they ingest a substance or engage in an activity because they think they need it in order to keep going. In many cases, people with psychological addictions can’t stop thinking about the thing they’re addicted to. Their dependence on the substance or activity is a result of their own feelings and thoughts. So is marijuana addictive from a physical or psychological perspective–or both? Read on for our answer.

Is Marijuana Addictive?

When people ask the question, “Is marijuana addictive?” they often think of a physical addiction. After all, many individuals addicted to other drugs such as heroin, meth, or cocaine often experience severely physical addictions. But even this fact may not be an accurate portrayal of people who suffer from these addictions. In fact, many drug addictions start from a psychological standpoint. So, is marijuana addictive?

Most people agree that marijuana does have the potential to become addictive. This is because of marijuana’s psychoactive effects. When you smoke or ingest marijuana, you invite cannabinoids, chemical compounds from the cannabis plant, into your body. Cannabinoids can release huge amounts of dopamine in your brain. One type of cannabinoid, THC, can actually regulate your mood, appetite, sleep cycles, and more. A lot of people use marijuana both medicinally and recreationally because of these effects.

And these effects, in particular, are responsible for marijuana’s potential to become psychologically addictive. In fact, there’s a name for this! Cannabis use disorder.

Is Marijuana Addictive? More About Cannabis Use Disorder

Experts state that people with Cannabis Use Disorder may have powerful urges to ingest marijuana. CUD can potentially lead to physical withdrawal, although these symptoms include more psychological effects: depression, anxiety, and fatigue. So let’s unpack this a little bit. Does this mean that marijuana is addictive? It’s interesting to note that this dependence is called a “use disorder.” But it is not called an addiction.

In fact, there are a few other medical disorders linked to marijuana, but they aren’t called addictions. In fact, they’re disorders that are “induced” by cannabis use. These include cannabis-induced sleep disorder, cannabis-induced anxiety disorder, cannabis-induced psychotic disorder, and cannabis intoxication delirium.

The Numbers

So what does all this mean? Is marijuana addictive because of all these disorders? But, it’s time to look at some numbers. About 1 in 10 people who actually use cannabis get dependent on it. And there are people who are more prone to this dependence than others.

For example, people with anxiety and sleep disorders, low self-esteem, and certain life circumstances may be more prone to Cannabis Use Disorder. In general, the 1 in 10 ratios is extremely small in the world of addiction. It’s important to acknowledge this number. But there simply aren’t thousands and thousands of people out there struggling with cannabis addiction. The people who do struggle, however, struggle with a dependence and problems with proper usage.

The Answer

Is marijuana addictive? Our answer is: yes.

But there’s a lot of qualifiers that go along with that “yes.” It’s better to say that marijuana does have addictive properties. And there are people who are more prone to establishing a dependence on marijuana. What’s more, a medical condition does exist to define people who have a dependence. But this doesn’t mean marijuana is addictive for everyone! It also doesn’t mean that marijuana is solely physically addictive.

In fact, marijuana has the potential to become psychologically addictive more than anything. What’s more, a lot of people who use cannabis solely for medicinal purposes never once experience signs of dependence. A lot of individuals use CBD, a cannabinoid that isn’t psychoactive, for medical purposes.

Signs of Cannabis Dependence

Just in case you are concerned about your own ability to develop Cannabis Use Disorder, let’s talk about signs of dependence. If you notice at least two of the following symptoms occurring throughout a given period of marijuana use, you may have CUD. You may have CUD if you just can’t stop smoking, ingesting, or otherwise using marijuana even if you want to. Perhaps the desire to use marijuana is just too overwhelming. You can’t resist it even if you tried. Sometimes these cravings get in the way of other lifestyle choices. You may have noticed yourself using more cannabis over time than you have in the past.

If you develop withdrawal symptoms, including depression, fatigue, sleep issues, feelings of anxiety, and shaking, this may indicate CUD. Lastly, if you know that your cannabis use is harming your relationships, work performance, and/or school attendance, and you still use it, you may have a dependence disorder. Now, it’s definitely possible to notice one or two of these symptoms every now and then. Maybe there’s one day where you crave weed, but you don’t normally crave it every day. Or perhaps you got depressed once or twice when you didn’t smoke as much.

These don’t mean that you have cannabis use disorder. However, it’s important to know that it is possible to develop a dependence. If you recognize these signs in yourself or another person, it’s important to seek professional help.

Is Marijuana Addictive? Final Thoughts

If all this talk of dependence and addiction is worrying you, there are several things to keep in mind. Not everyone develops a dependence on cannabis. While it’s possible to do so, the real numbers are actually super low. You can still get the medical and health benefits of marijuana without having to smoke a joint. You may have already heard about CBD, the cannabinoid in hemp that can benefit a range of health issues. What’s more, CBD doesn’t make you high. That’s what THC, the other cannabinoid in weed, does. So if you want to avoid the high of marijuana but still take advantage of its health benefits, consider dosing up on CBD. You can take CBD in a variety of forms, including pills, sprays, and tinctures.

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
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