Is Marijuana Addictive? Science-Backed Analysis of Weed

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What is Marijuana?

Marijuana, also known as cannabis, is a psychoactive drug derived from the Cannabis plant.

Marijuana contains over 100 different chemical compounds known as cannabinoids, with the two most well-known being delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

Recreational vs Medical Marijuana

Marijuana (commonly called weed) can be broken down into two main parts: THC and CBD.

THC is the main compound responsible for the mind-altering “high” that people experience with marijuana, while CBD has been shown to have potential therapeutic effects without getting the user high.

Is THC Addictive?

In short, yes. Some of the most addictive drugs interact with the brain and cause a dopamine release. This conditions the brain to seek out the drug despite negative consequences. THC has been proven to be the active ingredient in this dopamine release cycle for weed and thus is considered addictive. Notably, studies have found THC to cause a significantly lessened dopamine release than other drugs like psychostimulants or methamphetamine.

The amount of THC in both street and purchasable marijuana has gone up significantly over time. In the 1990s federal seizures of marijuana measured roughly 4% THC in the weed confiscated, but as recently as 2018, they have consistently found seized pot to contain THC of 15% or more.

Weed in dispensaries follow a similar path with products having as much as 45% THC in them, and almost all of them offering most products with over 15% THC. This is seen by some as problematic as studies on medical marijuana show pain relief after taking substances with just 5% THC. The higher potency of THC in today’s pot products also can lead to higher dopamine release cycles, thus higher addictiveness.

Is CBD addictive?

CBD is considered non-addictive as it has not been shown to alter the brain, cause a dopamine release, or interact with any of the other systems that are often activated by addictive drugs.

The lack of addictive properties in CBD has led the World Health Organization to classify it as non-addictive and why it is not illegal to purchase or sell CBD.

38 states, as well as Washington D.C. and 3 territories, have legalized medical marijuana. 21 states, Washington D.C., and two territories have legalized recreational marijuana use. 26 states and Washington D.C. have decriminalized marijuana.

While the FDA has not approved marijuana (in THC or CBD form) for medical usage, numerous studies are underway and an overwhelming amount of qualitative data suggests the drug may have benefits for a variety of medical issues.

While legal in many states, marijuana can still lead to many signs of addiction in those who use it.

Understanding Marijuana Addiction

To understand how marijuana is addictive it’s best to understand what addiction looks like in a general sense.

What is Addiction?

Addiction is a complex and chronic brain disorder characterized by an inability to control one’s use of a substance or behavior, despite the negative consequences that it causes. It often involves both physical and psychological components, with the individual experiencing intense cravings, withdrawal symptoms, and changes in brain functioning over time.

Differentiating Between Mental and Physical Addiction

Mental addiction, also known as psychological addiction, is the emotional or cognitive dependence on a substance or behavior. It typically involves cravings, obsessing over the substance or activity, and continued use despite negative consequences. Physical addiction, on the other hand, occurs when the body becomes reliant on the substance to function normally. Discontinuing the substance may lead to withdrawal symptoms, which can vary in severity.

Is marijuana physically or psychologically addictive?

Marijuana can be both psychologically and physically addictive.

Psychologically, individuals can experience cravings and continue using despite negative consequences.

Physically, the body may develop a reliance on marijuana, leading to marijuana withdrawal symptoms when not using.

Weed Dependency vs Weed Addiction

Dependency and addiction are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same. Dependency refers to the body’s adaptation to a substance, resulting in withdrawal symptoms when the substance is reduced or removed.

Addiction; however, is a more complex condition that involves not only physical dependency, but also psychological factors such as compulsive use, cravings, and continued use despite harmful consequences.

The issue of interchangeable use in the medical field has caused controversy on the accuracy of marijuana dependence and addiction numbers. Because of this, it is difficult to determine how many people fall into each category. If you or a loved one is experiencing difficulties with cannabis dependence, it’s time to find someone that can help.

Overcome your addiction to marijuana. The Hope House can help.

Understanding How Marijuana is Addictive

Before we discuss what the research has to say about cannabis addiction, there are a couple things to keep in mind.

The vast majority of people tend to view marijuana as a relatively harmless substance due to its safety profile and presence of marijuana in US culture has also been seemingly incongruent with US drug policy that has been presented as the objective truth. This has led many to develop a distrust in any sort of information surrounding the drug.

The problem is, while many people can use marijuana responsibly, not everybody’s brain is wired the same.

Is marijuana addictive?

Marijuana Addiction Studies

  • Research has shown that approximately 30% of people who use marijuana will go on to develop marijuana dependence. This number increases 4-7x for those who start using marijuana in their teenage years.
  • Recent data suggest that 30% of those who use marijuana may have some degree of marijuana use disorder.
  • About one in ten people who use marijuana develop a dependence
  • In the past decade, there has been a 76% rise in people entering treatment for cannabis addiction.
  • People who begin using marijuana before the age of 18 are four to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder than adults.

Risks of Developing a Weed Addiction

While anyone is capable of developing an addiction to a variety of substances, we often see specific groups or experienced events have higher rates of marijuana addiction tied to them then others.

What causes Marijuana Addiction?

  • Using other substances like alcohol or tobacco
  • Dysfunctional parent-child relationships
  • Having friends who use marijuana
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Thrill-seeking or impulsive behavior
  • Mental health issues (sometimes referred to as a dual diagnosis)
  • Assigned male at birth

Individuals with pre-existing mental health conditions may be at a higher risk of developing an addiction to marijuana. This can be due to several factors, such as using marijuana to self-medicate or having a predisposition to addiction based on genetic or environmental factors.

People with mental health conditions should work closely with their healthcare providers to manage their symptoms and discuss the potential risks and benefits of using marijuana. If you develop a marijuana addiction and simultaneously have a mental health diagnosis, you will likely need a special dual diagnosis program inside of a rehab to help treat both issues.

Additionally, the risk of marijuana addiction is especially present among heavy users and young people who use the drug.

Ultimately, the best approach is simply to be aware of the potential risks and make informed decisions about marijuana use.

If you or a loved one is struggling with marijuana addiction and mental health concerns, it’s important to seek professional help to address both issues effectively.

Take back your life from weed Get help at The Hope House

Signs of Marijuana Addiction

Some common signs and symptoms of a cannabis use disorder include:

  • Increased tolerance, requiring more marijuana to achieve the same effects
  • Difficulty cutting down or controlling marijuana use
  • Relationship problems
  • Spending excessive time and resources obtaining and using marijuana
  • Neglecting responsibilities at work, school, or home due to marijuana use
  • Continuing to use marijuana despite the negative impact on relationships, work, or school performance
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using marijuana
  • Failing a drug test (marijuana can stay in your system for up to 90 days.)

What are the signs of marijuana addiction?

High tolerance, difficulty controlling use, relationship problems, excessive time spent obtaining/using marijuana, and experiencing withdrawal symptoms are all signs of marijuana addiction.

The information in this article is intended to help you figure out when to seek help for drug abuse. If you or a loved one is struggling with marijuana abuse, we want to help you find a solution that is right for you.

Struggling with marijuana addiction? Get treatment at The Hope House

Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms

When someone who has developed a dependence on marijuana stops using it, they may experience a range of withdrawal symptoms. Common marijuana withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Depressed mood
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Decreased appetite
  • Restlessness
  • Physical discomfort

Treatment for Marijuana Addiction

While the drug may be considered less addictive than other substances, the risk of addiction is still present. The bottom line is, it is always possible to have “too much” of anything.

While it may not seem like it, many people go to rehab for marijuana addiction only.

How is marijuana addiction treated?

Marijuana addiction treatment may include behavioral therapies, marijuana addiction support groups, and, in some cases, medications to manage withdrawal symptoms.

With the amount of marijuana users worldwide, marijuana addiction is an issue that is worth addressing. In order to do that we must first be able to talk about it openly without stigma. To take it a step further, we can take measures in order to make sure everybody has access to effective treatment options and marijuana addiction treatment centers.

Marijuana Addiction Help

At the Hope House, we are actively working to make this a reality. Our team of professional healthcare providers works with each of our clients on a case-by-case basis so that each client gets the care they deserve.

Contact our addiction specialists to learn more about our compassionate and evidence-based treatment programs, designed to help individuals overcome addiction and embrace a healthier, fulfilling life.

Our luxury marijuana addiction treatment centers are located in Scottsdale, just north of Phoenix, Arizona.

Overcome marijuana addiction Start your journey at The Hope House