What is Marijuana Addiction?

Is Marijuana Addictive?

Is marijuana addictive like alcohol and many other drugs? The National Institute of Health, or NIH, reported that it’s tough to estimate the number of users who will become dependent on marijuana because different studies have returned varying figures. At the same time, the percentage people who struggle with some dependence issues may be higher than you think.

Studies suggest that about nine percent of all cannabis users meet the diagnostic criteria for an addiction. The organization also contends that this percentage approaches 17 percent for people who began using this drug in their teens. At the same time, the NIH reported that nearly 30 percent of marijuana users develop some dependency issues, even if all of these people don’t meet the medical diagnostic criteria for an addiction. Most alarming, the NIH reported that people who begin using marijuana before they turn 18 years old are at least four times more likely to develop a use disorder than people who started using this drug as adults.

Part of the reason that studies vary so much is that health professionals don’t always agree on their definitions of pot addiction vs. a milder use disorder, habit, or dependence. As Healthline pointed out in its exploration of marijuana dependence, millions of people also use marijuana or its components to help control pain, seizures, anxiety, or even as a recreational drug without developing a serious use disorder. Even though some don’t consider marijuana as big of an addiction risk as other drugs, others contend that a large number of people do develop a dependence that can interfere with the quality of life. Unlike addiction to alcohol and many other drugs, most withdrawal symptoms are emotional and not physical, so they might be dismissed as less severe.

Is Weed Habit Forming or is Pot Addictive?

The NIH described marijuana use disorders as any sort of sign of dependence upon the drug. Typically, doctors associate a use disorder with withdrawal symptoms. These mostly include mood, sleep, and appetite problems. Typically, when marijuana abuse is the only problem, withdrawal systems are worse for the first week and tend to diminish after two weeks.

Scientists believe that people develop marijuana use disorders because their brain has adapted to the drug because of long-term or heavy use. Because of this exposure, the user’s brain may reduce production of endocannabinoid neurotransmitters, and this causes the emotional symptoms of withdrawal until the brain can adjust again.

When Does Marijuana Use Disorder Become Marijuana Addiction?

Doctors and therapists may diagnose an addiction instead of a less-severe use disorder under these conditions:

  • Use of marijuana begins to interfere with daily life.
  • Even though use of the drug hinders daily living, the patient can’t stop using it on their own.

Just about 4 million Americans satisfied medical criteria for marijuana use disorder. Of these, almost 140,000 people underwent voluntary treatment.

Why Isn’t Marijuana Usually Considered an Addictive Drug?

Heavier use of marijuana makes addiction more likely. Average people may not perceive it as very addictive because the average qualify have increased so much in the past few years. In 1990, confiscated marijuana had an average THC concentration of less than four percent. By 2017, similar samples of confiscated THC concentration averaged 6.4 percent.

Typical marijuana sold by dispensaries or on the streets is likely to be much more potent than the drug used just a few decades ago. Researchers believe that younger and more inexperienced users are less likely to adjust their use because of potency, and they may be some of the most vulnerable.

You Don’t Need to Let Marijuana Dependence Ruin Your Life

While many people have no more trouble controlling their marijuana use than other people have with alcohol, some people appear more susceptible to addiction. Vulnerable populations may include younger people, inexperienced users, and people who may already have underlying mental health issues. Some symptoms of marijuana abuse could include mood disorders, anxious behavior, poor coordination, slow reactions, and a lack of motivation. Some people with a marijuana use disorder also experience a change in appetite and either weight loss or weight gain.

Many marijuana users experience extremely uncomfortable emotional symptoms when they try to stop using this drug. In some cases, these symptoms make it impossible for that person to successfully quit on their own. In fact, people who suffer from a marijuana use disorder tend to develop a physical tolerance to the drug, so they may consume even more of the drug to avoid withdrawal symptoms over time.

Meanwhile, the cost of the drug may ruin finances. Needing to use the drug more often could lead to problems in school or at work. An ability to stop on your own doesn’t indicate weakness; however, it does indicate that you should seek out professional assistance from trained and experienced therapists and medical professionals.

It’s Time to Seek Professional Help to Withdraw From Marijuana

Is a dependency on marijuana ruining your quality of life or that of somebody that you love? Take the first step by contacting us today to learn how we can help you.