Marijuana is one of the most commonly used substances in the United States. People have debated for years over whether or not it’s addictive. Some say it is, whereas most people believe that it’s impossible to form an addiction to it, and even believe it’s beneficial in many ways. The question is, is this substance good or evil?
It’s important to understand the truth. Some people are more prone to addiction, even if the drug they’re using isn’t considered to be highly addictive. You’re in a great place to get some answers, and to find out what you should do if you learn you are addicted.
The fact is that any drug can have a hold on your life. That’s probably not a situation you thought you would end up being in. Let’s dig a little deeper and find out more about the addictive nature of marijuana, and how this can impact you.
Many states in the U.S. have legalized marijuana, but not before considering the answer to this question. Colorado, Washington, and California are just a few, and many more are considering legalization. Now more than ever, people need to know the risk they’re taking when they start using it.
The problem is that people still remain on both sides of the fence. People who are considered to be experts in addiction treatment believe that it is addictive. People who use it, and even other medical professionals disagree. It really comes down to how you define the word, “addiction.”
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fifth Edition), or DSM-V is considered the APA’s gold standard for identifying mental illnesses. This includes identifying addictions. In this manual, you’ll see that they are referred to as substance use disorders, primarily.
The DSM-V defines addiction based on years of research and clinical information. In order for a condition to qualify as an addiction, it must meet some basic criteria, including:
Some would argue that many – if not all – of these criteria can apply to marijuana. Others would argue that none of them apply. Let’s take a closer look at how this drug affects people physically and psychologically.
Most people believe that marijuana is not a drug that leads to physical dependence. But, there is evidence that suggests that it can cause physical withdrawal symptoms when it’s stopped. For instance, people who use it frequently feel restless. They may have strong, physical cravings for it, and not much of an appetite when they quit using it.
This suggests that there is a degree of physical dependence that takes place when someone uses marijuana long-term. It may not be as physically addictive as other drugs, and this may not be the case for everyone, but it can happen.
Most people agree that marijuana is psychologically addictive, even if it’s not physically addictive. The research is there to back this up too. Dr. Nora Volkow, who is the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse states that, “Psychological addiction occurs in your brain and it’s a physical change.”
The psychological urge to use marijuana is a powerful one. In an article on the Vice website, one woman tells her story about her mental addiction to weed. She talks about how she would drag herself out of bed every morning, promising that she wasn’t going to use. By the time she made it to the shelf where she kept her stash, she had already given in. The draw to use was just too strong.
To further support the psychologically addictive nature of marijuana, it can cause severe mental withdrawal symptoms when it’s stopped. People commonly suffer from:
There are even more signs of psychological addiction people should be concerned about as well. In the case of the woman depicted in the Vice article, she had several complaints. She states:
“You may have heard the claim that weed makes you a wee bit stupider? Well, my memory has started to fail me. I have endless amazing story ideas when I’m high. The ideas, of course, evaporate as quickly as they materialize. My once-robust vocabulary has dwindled, and with it, my self-confidence. I can’t spell anymore. I’m not as quick-witted as I seem to remember having been once upon a time. I’m paranoid and nervous. My attention span is nonexistent. My coordination is terrible. It terrifies me to speak to shopkeepers. (What if they know I’m high?)”
To learn more, check out this video that explains why it’s so hard to quit using marijuana:
The legality of this drug has given it the position of most abused substance in the world. Statistics from the United Nations tell us that:
All across the world, there are close to 160 million people who admit to using marijuana. That’s almost 4% of the world’s population. It makes sense to be concerned. This is a clearly a problem that has spiraled out of control.
A marijuana addiction occurs when your use of this drug moves from recreational to necessary. By this point, you believe that you need it, and without it, you won’t be yourself. You may experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop using it. Many people put themselves on a regular schedule for the times they’ll get high during the day. If they happen to miss one of these “appointments,” it’s hard for them to cope.
Any type of addiction is dangerous; even one when the drug is one that is widely known to be harmless. Marijuana is certainly not harmless, and once you get addicted to it, it’s very hard to stop.
This is a great video done by a young woman who explains how she overcame her addiction to marijuana:
Cannabis use disorder is a diagnosis found in the DSM-V. It’s described as a condition that indicates problematic marijuana use. The use of this diagnosis indicates the possibility that using this drug can negatively impact people. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re addicted.
The truth is that not everyone who uses this drug will become addicted to it. The use of this new term allows for that. There are varying levels of severity that can be indicated when someone is given this diagnosis. People who use cannabis regularly all have different experiences, which means they require more specific diagnoses.
This video is very informative and it gives an excellent explanation about cannabis use disorder:
Using this drug for a short period of time is unlikely to have any long-lasting effects on the brain. But when people use it long-term, research shows that it can cause significant changes. Some of these may even be permanent and irreversible.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that rats that were exposed to THC experienced serious brain changes. Those who were exposed to it before birth, soon after birth, or during adolescence showed problems with learning and memory. Additional studies demonstrated how the rats required an alternate reward system. More specifically, they were much more likely to self-administer other drugs when they had the chance to.
The studies that have been done on humans who use marijuana show differing results. Some of them suggest that for teens who use marijuana, they’re likely to experience memory, learning and impulse control issues. Others fail to find any significant differences between the brains of those who use and those who don’t.
The conclusion can be drawn that people respond differently because addiction is very personal. What might impact you negatively might not do anything to someone else. The key is, you have no way of knowing what continued marijuana use could result in. You could end up being one of the people who experienced the adverse effects and changes to your brain.
For more information on how marijuana affects the brain, watch this informative video:
When most people hear the word addiction, they conjure up specific images in their minds. They envision people on street corners, selling their bodies for drugs. They may think of people pushing shopping carts down on the streets of their city’s worst neighborhoods. At most, they see people who aren’t able to keep jobs, and whose lives are in shambles.
The reality is that this not at all an accurate portrait of what addiction truly is. The vast majority of addicts are those whom you would never suspect. They have jobs – many of them have excellent jobs – they make money, they own homes, and they appear to have their lives together. They’re known as functioning addicts, or high-functioning addicts.
The problem with functioning addicts is that they often never see what’s wrong with their drug use. They use their own personal success to justify it for as long as they can. They assume that because they’re successful in most areas of their lives, using marijuana shouldn’t be that big a deal. Many will hide it from their loved ones for as long as they can, and a lot of them will succeed.
It’s hard to say how many functioning marijuana addicts there are in our country. However, it’s probably safe to say that more than half could be considered high functioning. You may know many of them yourself. All you need to do is scan the Internet from some of the world’s most well known celebrities.
Over the last ten years or so, marijuana has lost its taboo status. Not only is it legal in more states now than ever before, but it’s also become more socially acceptable as well. This alone has caused a lot of celebrities to stop hiding their love for pot and embracing it within the public eye. Take these individuals for example:
Of course, these are just a few examples. There are many more celebrities who have come clean about their love of marijuana. Among them are Megan Fox, Madonna, Sarah Silverman and Queen Latifah.
How do you know if you’re addicted to marijuana? You may want to begin by looking for some of the more common signs of addiction. They include:
More specifically, people who are addicted to marijuana rely on it for nearly everything. When they’re stressed out or they need to relax, they want to smoke. It’s a way for them to escape from their problems. You may even believe that you can’t function without it. Once you reach the point where you don’t want to get out of bed if you can’t smoke, it indicates an addiction.
Sometimes people still aren’t sure if they’re addicted to marijuana, even after seeing a list of symptoms. This is because your brain has convinced you that you’re not an addict. It could mean that you’re in denial, in which case, it’s best to find other ways to determine if you have an addiction.
You could start by taking a marijuana addiction quiz like the one we’ve linked to here. This quiz is very in depth, and it will ask you a lot of different questions to determine your relationship with marijuana. At the end of the quiz, you will be able to see your results right away.
You could also benefit from talking with a professional about your situation. Many drug rehabs offer free phone assessments for this purpose. This will allow you to get a professional opinion on what you should do without having to pay for it.
People use marijuana to get high for a lot of different reasons. For many of them, it starts with peer pressure. It’s something their friends are doing and they want to feel included in the group. People use it as a way to relax and de-stress after a long day. Others may use it to escape their problems.
For many individuals who regularly use marijuana, they’re doing it because they have an underlying mental health condition. This issue may be diagnosed, but in the case of most people, it’s not. All they know is that they don’t feel right, and pot makes them feel better.
When people use marijuana for this purpose, it’s called having a co-occurring disorder. The drugs are a way to alleviate some of their symptoms so they feel more like themselves.
There are many different types of co-occurring disorders, and marijuana can help to reduce the severity of many of their symptoms. Some examples include:
Eventually, using marijuana won’t work as well as it did in the beginning. This is because of tolerance. People may find that they need to use more, or they may be tempted to use additional drugs or alcohol at the same time. Both situations are dangerous and can cause the root of addiction to grow even deeper.
It is possible to stop smoking weed cold turkey, and many people believe in this approach completely. They’re motivated to stop, they’ve spent time thinking about it, and they’re ready to quit. However, for most people, it’s not going to be very easy.
If you do choose to quit on your own, it’s best to be prepared. You should follow the following guidelines:
Even though you can quit cold turkey, not everyone should attempt it. You may want to consider getting treatment to help you through this challenging time.
Most people think that when they’re ready to stop using pot, it’s best to just stop. The problem is that it’s not always that simple. There could be underlying issues that are driving the addiction. It’s best to go to a drug rehab that offers marijuana treatment. That will give you the best chance of recovering successfully.
You won’t find marijuana on the list of drugs that requires detox. However, that doesn’t mean that it might not be necessary for some people.
Detoxing a way to get professional help for the physical part of the addiction. If you’re concerned about having physical withdrawal symptoms, this is something you may want to consider asking about.
There are a lot of different ways that you can get help if you’re suffering from a marijuana addiction. It’s important to find the method that will work the best for you.
Sometimes people think it’s silly to go to an inpatient rehab program to get help for their weed addictions. They figure that the drug is relatively minor, as far as being addictive. To them, an inpatient stay simply doesn’t feel warranted.
The reality is that an inpatient rehab might be your best option. If you’re serious about recovering, it will help to remove yourself from the temptation to use. You’ll also get all kinds of therapy that can help identify a possible co-occurring disorder that needs to be treated.
An outpatient rehab can be a great option, but most experts agree that an intensive outpatient program is probably best. Attending this form of treatment will give you a higher level of care with the flexibility you’re looking for.
A high quality IOP can be just as effective as an inpatient program, according to research. It’s a great choice for someone who is committed to recovery, but who need to continue to live at home.
Group therapy is known to be very effective at aiding in the recovery process. If this option sounds appealing to you, then you may want to consider attending a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. You will find a lot of support when you attend one of these meetings.
NA is known to be very laid back and accepting of everyone who walks through the doors. You’ll meet a lot of people who share in your struggles, and this can help you by giving you the necessary accountability.
A growing number of individuals are finding the help they need through online support groups. This might be an option for you if you’re not interested in any other form of treatment just yet. You can find NA meetings online, and many websites offer a chat feature that lets you converse with other members outside of meeting times.
There are also groups that don’t follow the 12 Step method of recovery, if that’s what you’re looking for. Even if you’re talking to people online, getting the support you need will be very important. This is also an option you can utilize for further assistance to supplement another form of help.
There is some speculation that marijuana is actually a gateway drug. If that’s the case, it places some urgency on the need for people to quit using it.
NIDA reports that there is some research that suggests that marijuana is a gateway drug. This means that its use is very likely to precede the use of other substances. They also state that becoming addicted to it puts one in danger of forming easier addictions to other drugs.
Some of the studies that have been done indicate that:
Reports indicate that most people who use this drug do not go on to use harder drugs in the future. But, the risk is still there. Most people who misuse drugs like heroin or cocaine state that their first drug of choice (other than alcohol) was marijuana.
If you have a marijuana addiction, getting help is the best gift you could give yourself. You may not know how to quit, or where to begin, and we can help you with that, here at Northpoint Washington.
Many of our staff members are actually former addicts themselves. They understand what you’re going through because they’ve been there. That fact alone gives them a unique empathy that’s not easy to find from other treatment providers. If you’re battling an undiagnosed co-occurring disorder, it’s important for that to be treated. You’ll also benefit from getting to know other patients and gaining their support.
Do you have questions about whether or not marijuana is addictive? We’d like to help you find some answers and get the help you need to recover. Please contact us today.