Tuesday July 29th 2014

Is marijuana addictive?

YES. Marijuana can be addictive, although less than 10% of smokers go on to develop an addiction.

So how exactly do people become addicted to marijuana – is it based on how marijuana works in the brain? How do you know if you have a marijuana addiction is it possible to stop smoking weed without withdrawal? We’ll review these questions here. And at the end, we invite your questions about the addictive potential of marijuana or about general marijuana use. We try to answer all questions personally and promptly.

What is marijuana used for?

Marijuana is used in a few states as a medicinal treatment for various chronic conditions, including depression and nausea from chemotherapy. In these jurisdictions, marijuana is treated similarly to prescription drugs, legal only to use under a doctor’s supervision. However, as a substance, marijuana us still illegal on the federal level and considered a Schedule I drug – illegal to own or use.

What is marijuana made of?

Marijuana is a naturally-growing plant. Typically, the stems, seeds, leaves, or buds of the plant are shredded and then smoked. Marijuana is also sometimes ingested cooked into food, or brewed into a tea. The chemical THC is contained in the plant, and it’s what causes psychoactive effects of euphoria when marijuana is used.

How addictive is marijuana?

Marijuana is not as addictive as many other drugs. Only 9% of users develop a physical dependence on the drug. Using marijuana on a daily basis raises the risk of addiction considerably, with anywhere from 25-50% of daily users addicted. Furthermore, using marijuana at a young age (in the teen years) also increases the risk of addiction. For casual users of the drug who don’t have a daily habit, marijuana is not as likely to cause an addiction or dependence, although temporary memory loss on weed can affect you.

How do you get addicted to marijuana?

You’re more likely to develop an addiction if you use marijuana every day. Over time, chronic use becomes addiction. Plus, if you use marijuana just to get high and not for medicinal purposes, you’re more likely to become an addict. Finally, you’re more likely to become addicted to marijuana if you have a history of drug or alcohol abuse. Some ways that people misuse and abuse marijuana are:

  • smoking marijuana
  • cooking marijuana into food
  • taking marijuana frequently
  • taking high doses of marijuana

Signs of marijuana addiction

Marijuana addiction involves both a psychological and physical dependence on the drug. Marijuana withdrawal can cause irritability, insomnia, and anxiety. Other signs of marijuana addiction include:

  1. Continued marijuana abuse despite negative consequences
  2. Craving marijuana and using it compulsively
  3. Seeking marijuana in order to stimulate the “reward center” of the brain

Marijuana addiction potential questions

Do you still have questions about marijuana addiction potential? Please leave them here. We are happy to help answer your questions personally and promptly. If we do not know the answer to your particular question, we will refer you to someone who does.

Reference Sources: NIDA: InfoFacts: Marijuana
National Drug Intelligence Center: Marijuana Fast Facts
Medline Plus: Marijuana

Leave a Reply

10 Responses to “Is marijuana addictive?
Eddie
9:11 pm July 6th, 2012

I was addicted to marijuana among other things. I got clean and sober with the help of a structured sober living and think that marijuana addiction is something that is underrated and talked little about.

2:14 am July 8th, 2012

Hi Eddie. We agree. Marijuana addiction can be considered “less insidious” than other harder drugs, but the negative effects of drug addiction are the same, no matter the substance.

Doug Manderbach
10:51 pm July 9th, 2012

There seems to be little doubt that one can become psychologically dependent on marijuana, and for many years it was thought that marijuana use did not result in physical dependence. Most of the thinking surrounding the question of whether marijuana could result in physical dependence centered on the two accepted criteria that define physical dependence (e.g., tolerance and withdrawal).

These questions are far from being completely resolved. However, there is recent objective research that suggests a) that over time continued use of marijuana can result in tolerance, and b), surprisingly, that habitual use of marijuana can result in physical withdrawal syndrome.

To test this hypothesis, researchers gave lab rats fixed doses of delta 9 tetrahydracannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis over a fixed period of time. Upon administration of a THC antagonist a significant portion of subjects went into withdrawal syndrome.

THC is lipid (fat) soluble, and depending upon the frequency of use THC can remain in the body and active for extended periods of time. It is not unheard of for habitual marijuana users to test positive for active metabolites 30 days after discontinuing use. It is because marijuana can remain active and in the body for prolonged periods of time which may explain why physical withdrawal syndrome is not readily observed.

Derek
5:59 pm August 22nd, 2012

very irresponsible..your definition of addiction is twisted..under this definition, 20% of the population is addicted to chocolate.

10:02 am August 24th, 2012

Hi Derek. Actually, the definition presented above comes from medical literature and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a guide created by a board of psychiatrists who have been treating addiction for decades. And yes, you can also be diagnosed with compulsive tendencies towards eating chocolate.

Doug Manderbach
9:20 pm August 30th, 2012

Hi Derek,
Let me begin by saying that my definition of physical dependence did in fact come from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Ed. 4, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR), together with my studies towards a degree in counseling with an emphasis on chemical addictions and substance abuse. Your comments however, do raise a point requiring further discussion as regards “addiction to chocolate”. Before I address that idea though let me first say that nowhere in my post did I use the term “addiction”. There are two reasons for this. First, it removes the negative connotation usually associated with the term “addiction”, and second, by using the term “physical dependence” I was attempting to concisely convey the idea that there is an actual physical need for that substance. None of this however is meant to say that the term addiction should never be used. Rather, it is simply a cautionary note that we should exercise some care in its usage.
As regards your comment “addiction to chocolate” there may be much to that comment than many would realize. For example, the psychoactive ingredient in chocolate (theobromine) is an alkaloid very similar in chemical composition to caffeine and both are considered to be mild central nervous system (CNS) stimulants. While it is highly doubtful that one can become physically dependent on either of these substances, we probable all know one or more persons who have a psychological dependence on them. Loosely stated, psychological dependence is a state in which the thing or substance is used for the reinforcement it provides. If one Google’s the term “psychological reinforcement” they will be completely amazed at what comes back.
The science of addictionology is far too great and encompasses numerous disciplines (e.g., psychology, neurobiology, physiology, and more), for us to rely upon this or that, black or white, and especially good or bad assumptive evaluations.

Marc
2:14 pm September 11th, 2012

Many “Chocolate” bars infact, contain very little cocoa, and its likely that the addiction to chocolate is based on Sugar, habitual form and of course, the aroma it brings.

Cannabis and Cocoa work very similar in how they reward the brain. Yes, Cannabis can be addictive, especially if used in a habitual form, but again, its none toxic, and believed to have many theraputic properties.

If someone decided to consume Cannabis everyday, there would be very litte health risks to the individual, compared to Alcohol, and many other Drugs.

Cannabis withdrawal isnt physical, but mental, due to the habit forming that it poses. Sure, if you took a drug that was non-toxic and heightened your sense, it would be addictive, to a degree.

Addiction is based on alot of things, look at smoking cigerettes. The whirl of smoke, deep breaths and shoving in the mouth paired with ammonia infused Tobacco, deadly.

The lowdown is.. Cannabis is addictive as anything that is “habit forming” like drinking a soft drink, eating fatty foods and having a strong coffee, but Cannabis is non-toxic, thats the huge difference.

Juelz
5:14 pm October 25th, 2012

you cant get addicted to marijuana lol, you CANT ! Everyone thinks that weed is bad but its not, noones ever overdosed from marijuna

2:02 pm October 30th, 2012

Hello Juelz. Thanks for sharing your opinion.

In reality, marijuana can trigger panic, paranoia, or acute psychosis. While these episodes are more common in new users of for people already diagnosed with psychiatric disorders…the difference between toxicity and healing for any chemical is related to dosage. Some people simply should not be taking marijuana.

And marijuana is addictive. While physical dependence is not as extreme in cases of opiate addiction, marijuana withdrawal syndrome is a documented clinical event.

kris r
2:51 pm July 30th, 2013

marrajuana is addictive i have smoked it for 24 years i have decided of my own accord to stop smoking it i have not had any for 3 weeks and i am suffering with a number of side effects i cant sleep , mood swings ,my eating habbits have changed and the way i think is completly different.i am suffering from bouts of confusion and my concentration is terrible how long this will last i dont know some people seem to find it easier than others this could all depend on a number of reasons or the person who is smoking it

Leave a Reply