Yes. Long-term use of marijuana leads to addiction in some people.
Some people don’t believe that you cannot be physically addicted to marijuana the way that people are addicted to other drugs. But this is not true. In addiction to tolerance and withdrawal symptoms when THC levels drop (how long does THC stay in your system?), elements of psychological addiction to weed have been documented and agreed upon by experts. We review the characteristics of weed addiction and what you can do about it here.
What does it mean to be addicted to weed?
One of the first signs of marijuana addiction is using weed despite negative consequences. In other words, if you are smoking weed compulsively, even though it interferes with your health, your family, school, work, and/or recreational activities, you could be addicted to it. In addition, people addicted to weed cannot control their urges to seek out and use marijuana and think about it obsessively. Frequent, heavy marijuana users also develop “tolerance” to its effects and need eight times the dose to get the same effects as infrequent users. Other characteristics of addiction to weed include:
- Craving and uncontrolled urges to use marijuana
- Obsessive thinking about marijuana
- Needing higher doses to achieve euphoric effect (tolerance)
- Using marijuana despite negative consequences
- Withdrawal symptoms when dosage is lowered or stopped
Who gets addicted to weed?
Marijuana is the most common drug of abuse in the U.S. Why do people smoke weed? Well, for lots of reasons. In fact, 60% of all illegal drug abuse occurs with marijuana and about 1 in 12 people who smoke weed may become dependent on it. The risk of addiction goes up to about 1 in 6 among people who start smoking weed when they are adolescents, and 25-50% of daily users. According to one study, teenagers who exhibit antisocial problems and use marijuana can quickly become addicted to it.
Are you addicted to weed? How to find help
Do you get high from eating weed? Yes. But most people smoke marijuana, leading to almost instant euphoria, and increased risk of addiction.
There are currently no medications used to treat marijuana addiction but several cannabinoid antagonists that are in development. For example, cannabidiol, THC and lofexidine are currently under clinical trial to test how they affect withdrawal symptoms and whether or not they can help prevent relapse. So at the moment, marijuana addiction treatment programs focus on counseling such as contingency management (CM), motivational enhancement therapy (MET), cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and combinations of those approaches. There are also a number of programs designed especially to help teenagers who abuse weed. Finally, support groups have been found to help treat addiction to weed.
Family doctors can be a good source for information and help when dealing with marijuana problems. If you are seeking treatment, you can also call a National Drug and Alcohol Treatment hotline at 1–800–662–HELP (4357) for information on counseling services, or treatment options in your State. Drug treatment programs by State also may be found online at www[dot]findtreatment[dot]samhsa[dot]gov.