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Is Marijuana Actually Addictive?

Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in America. The question is, is it addictive? This article will explore whether marijuana is addictive and, if so, how to help someone who is addicted to the substance.
Research has shown that about 9% of people who use marijuana develop a dependency on it. That means that one out of every ten people who smoke weed may end up experiencing withdrawal symptoms when they stop using it. If you’re concerned about your own or somebody else’s addiction, there are treatment options available for both adults and adolescents.
What is Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD)?
CUD is a condition where someone continues to use cannabis despite experiencing harmful consequences such as failure to meet major responsibilities at work, school, or home.
Experts recommend that anyone with a CUD is assessed for co-occurring mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder because these conditions may require additional treatment.
Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms
Marijuana withdrawal symptoms are just like those experienced when someone is addicted to alcohol or heroin:

  • Irritability
  • Anger/aggression
  • Anxiety/nervousness
  • Decreased appetite or weight loss
  • Disturbed sleep

How is Marijuana Withdrawal Treated?
There is no medication available to treat CUD specifically. However, there are some medications that may be helpful for specific symptoms, such as anti-anxiety medications during the early stages of treatment. Behavioral therapies have been found to be more beneficial for treating CUD. These therapies can help with relapse prevention strategies and coping skills to deal with cravings.
How Do You Know You Have a Problem?
It is important to note that you cannot tell if someone is addicted simply by looking at them. However, there are some signs and symptoms of addiction, which include:

  • Using more marijuana or using it for longer periods than intended
  • Unsuccessful efforts to quit or cut down on the use
  • Isolation from friends/family
  • Spending more time using or recovering from use
  • Cravings
  • Using marijuana even when it is known to cause problems

Problems Linked to Cannabis Use Disorder
Pot is not a physically addictive drug. Cannabis is not chemically addictive. However, problems do exist for individuals who smoke pot on a regular basis. In one study, researchers found that after 18 months of abstinence from cannabis, up to 50% of the people who used marijuana heavily in their teens had some degree of cannabis use disorder.
The addiction is worse for those who have been using marijuana since they were young adults. If someone is smoking weed every day and is struggling with associating their life to weed, then they may want to speak to a mental health professional about addiction issues. This is not a problem that can be solved by going cold turkey or by simply cutting down the frequency of use.
How Does Cannabis Use Disorder Happen?
The THC in marijuana is what is addictive, but it is also the chemical that causes hallucinations. The THC level in marijuana has been increasing over the years as cultivators have bred new plants with higher levels of this compound to produce a stronger potency high.
Marijuana is illegal at the federal level and is still classified under Schedule I drugs because, according to research by NIDA, cannabis is addictive. Although, the research is contradictory when it comes to marijuana being physically addicting in contrast with the fact that there is no evidence of anyone dying from a weed overdose.
Also, THC is not water-soluble and cannot be detected through urinalysis like other drugs are tested for during treatment programs or probationary periods after an individual has been caught with possession of the drug.
So, is marijuana addictive? Yes, but not in a physical sense like other drugs that are known to be physically addicting. If you or someone you know is struggling with weed addiction and is looking for help quitting weed, consider speaking to your doctor about getting treatment. This is an alternative form of treatment that is helping people detox from marijuana and is getting them back on their feet.
How to Prevent Cannabis Use Disorder?
To prevent cannabis use disorder, avoid using it as a way to cope with difficult feelings. It is very difficult to ‘get addicted’ to cannabis because it does not contain morphine or heroin. It is possible that somebody could develop a cannabis use disorder where they love the effects of marijuana and will continue to do things that may no longer be in their best interest.
If you think you need help with your pot problem, there is always someone out there willing to help you through this tough time through therapy and rehabilitation centers.
How is Marijuana Addiction Treated?
Most treatment programs for addiction are based on cognitive behavioral therapy. These therapies focus on identifying patterns of thought and behavior that lead to problematic drug use, preventing relapse by helping patients avoid the situations in which they were previously tempted to abuse drugs, managing triggers that can cause a setback in recovery, and teaching social skills that can help patients avoid drug use.
Another therapy is contingency management, which is an incentive-based program where patients receive vouchers or small cash rewards for abstaining from marijuana. Contingency management is most effective when the patient has been addicted to cannabis for less than three years. In this case, it is more effective than the standard 12-step program and is often used as an adjunct to treatment.
People who are addicted to cannabis may also be treated with medications such as buprenorphine/naloxone, which is a combination medication that can help reduce drug cravings by affecting opioid receptors in the brain.
How Can I Get Help?
If you think that someone is addicted, consider reaching out for support. There are resources available through your school or community center as well as national organizations such as the National Institute on Drug Abuse. It is important to remember that addiction is a disease that is treated, not cured. Support is available 24/365 for those who are ready to quit marijuana use and finally be free of addiction.
It is often a gradual process. Subtle changes in behavior can spiral into a destructive way of life over time. When a person is using alcohol or drugs on a regular basis, they will eventually lose touch with their life and the people around them. They may no longer be living their life for themselves or for anyone else. In order to get back control, they will need help from mental health professionals.