Is Marijuana Addictive? Everything In One Place – Addiction, Symptoms, Treatment, and More
If you’ve ever been around a first-time smoker, you’ve probably been asked the question, “is marijuana addictive”. For those unfamiliar with the plant-based drug, this is a fair question, and, in fact, it is probably one you’ve asked at some point or another.
Understanding the addictiveness of marijuana, especially in comparison to other drugs or smoking cigarettes, is an important aspect of being a responsible smoker.
The good news is that, while smoking marijuana is a fun recreation that you’ll likely want to do again and again, it is not addictive in the same sense as nicotine or other drugs.
This is just one of the things that distinguish marijuana from dangerous narcotics, including alcohol and many prescription drugs, as marijuana is generally a safe and organic way to achieve a high without running the risk of long-term addiction.
In addition, smoking marijuana instead of cigarettes offers many medical advantages as this natural plant is free of the harmful and highly addictive properties of nicotine and tobacco.
However, if you or someone you know is a major marijuana consumer, who can’t seem to go without the stuff for more than a couple of days, a mental addiction to marijuana may be in effect.
Those who suffer from heavy marijuana-use, often experience mild withdrawal symptoms due to a psychological dependency or a dependency on the pain and anxiety-reducing effects of THC.
What is Marijuana Addiction?
When experts talk about marijuana addiction, it is important to keep in mind that this is not the typical type of addiction that we hear about when talking about drugs.
With hard drugs, and even cigarettes, alcohol, and some prescription medications, the body easily develops a physical and biological addiction to these substances as they can cause long-term chemical imbalances and dependencies in the body.
With marijuana, on the other hand, the most common type of dependency is a psychological one and symptoms are typically short lived and easy to treat.
Marijuana use disorder is the most common type of marijuana addiction, especially for heavy users and those who start consuming the drug at a young age.
This type of addiction is rooted in a psychological dependency which can cause increased resistance to the drug’s effects and cause mild withdrawal symptoms, but is otherwise easy to treat and is nowhere near as damaging as addiction to hard drugs.
This type of marijuana addiction is actually more common than you might think, as The National Institute of Drug Abuse recently reported that as many as 30% of habitual marijuana users may be suffering from some level of marijuana use disorder or addiction, with the results being much higher for users who start smoking before the age of 17.
However, for those who smoke in moderation, this dependency is uncommon and unlikely to cause withdrawal symptoms.
In very rare cases, marijuana addiction can be a more serious condition that may require rehab treatment, but this is usually only in the case when other psychological factors are at play and the user is especially susceptible to certain THC properties.
If you are consuming marijuana for medical reasons, for example to reduce pain or anxiety, the relief that you achieve through cannabis can also lead to marijuana abuse, as you may experience a resistance to the drug overtime and develop a symptomatic dependency.
A study cited by Psychology Today reported that about 18% of drug treatment program patients age 12 or older were seeking help for marijuana abuse.
However, in comparison to other drugs, marijuana addiction is much less risky, much easier to treat, and does not typically pose long lasting effects.
Symptoms of Marijuana
Some of the most common symptoms of smoking or ingesting marijuana include:
- Anxiety relief
- Memory impairment
- Bloodshot eyes
- Slow reflexes and motor skills
- Increased heart rate
- Dry mouth
- Increased appetite (munchies)
While symptoms of marijuana withdrawal may include increased nervousness, difficulty concentrating, low energy, and a desire to smoke more.
This is because as your body gets accustomed to regular supplements of cannabis your brain will slow its natural production of cannabinoids, causing you to experience withdraw symptoms when you stop taking marijuana.
Marijuana Vs. Other Drugs
As mentioned above, marijuana addiction is very different from the addiction that you could risk with drugs like heroin or cocaine, or even other substances like alcohol and cigarettes.
While heavy drugs can be highly addictive, and even alcohol can develop into a dangerous addiction that can severely damage your health, the risk factors associated with marijuana addiction are abysmal in comparison.
For starts, those who smoke marijuana in moderation will likely experience no form of addiction and can simply start and stop consuming weed whenever.
Those who habitually smoke the drug, on the other hand, may be at greater risk of developing a psychological dependency or addiction to cannabis, but even still, this addiction is far less risky and much easier to treat than addiction to other drugs.
Because cannabis is an organic compound, it is much better for your body than synthetic drugs.
In fact, our bodies naturally produce cannabinoids, which is why one of the greatest symptoms of marijuana addiction is a sense of withdrawal as our bodies readjust to producing standard levels of cannabinoids without the added supplement from marijuana.
The bottom line is that when compared to the addictiveness and dangers of other drugs, marijuana is the least toxic, poses the least amount of threats to the body and mind, and is the least likely to develop into an addiction or dependency. For more scientific data, check out this study cited by drugscience.org.
What To Do If You’re Addicted?
If you are worried that you are suffering from a marijuana addiction, the best thing to do is to taper your usage so that your body starts to adjust to lower levels of THC.
Limiting your marijuana to only consuming in moderation or stopping completely for a period of time, can help minimize your dependency as well.
If you are a heavy marijuana user, it may take some time off of smoking weed for your body to readjust and produce standard levels of cannabinoids; but for most, the addiction can be self-treated and should vanish within a few weeks.
If, however, you feel like your marijuana addiction is interfering with your daily life, by making it difficult to concentrate, causing you to experience high levels of anxiety or panic attacks, or posing other difficult challenges, you can reach out to your doctor or seek help through an in-patient or out-patient addiction treatment program.
There are no medications to treat this type of addiction, however, most treatment programs feature a detoxification period and provide moral and emotional support that can help you break your mental dependency to marijuana, as well as your general addiction to smoking weed.
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