Is Marijuana Addictive: What Experts Have to Say

A lot of people would move their head sideways when you ask them ‘Is marijuana addictive?’. It’s a big no for them. A global survey participated by 55,000 Cannabis users was conducted. Only 64% of them think that it is addictive while 75% believe that the plant contains harmful chemicals and makes users forgetful.

Ruben Baler, a health scientist said that marijuana is certainly addictive. He added more than 10% of consumers are at risk of addiction. Frequent use may heighten the possibility.

NIDA or National Institute of Drug Abuse stated that 30% of marijuana users have marijuana use disorder. It is a term included in the pot dictionary. But it still brings confusion in identifying the level of harm or a less hazardous state to end the stigma of addiction.

Define Addiction Related to Use of Substance 

There are various definitions of addiction especially when they are linked to marijuana. It became more confusing when ‘substance use disorder’ was born a few years ago. These words stripped the meaning of addiction.

National Institutes of Health, a part of NIDA discusses marijuana use disorder but there’s a big part of the explanation that points out addiction. The word ‘addiction’ is being deflected. American Psychiatric Association interchangeably uses the words ‘addiction’ and ‘severe substance use disorder’.

It is an implication that the definition of the word ‘addiction’ is diluted. The word is usually referred to as behavior like shopping, gambling, sex, using a phone, browsing the internet, or playing a video game. 

Baler added that when a substance is used in a harmful way but does not interfere with a person’s life, it remains as a ‘substance use disorder’ based on a pathological view. Infrequent use doesn’t develop an addiction. But having a substance daily can increase the risk.

DSM 5 or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition tackles the evolved scientific thinking. It was arranged in 2013. It was then ‘substance dependence’ and substance abuse’ was changed into ‘substance use disorder’.

But it has three categories which are mild, moderate, and severe. When it’s in an early stage or mild, there’s nothing to worry about. Addiction would come in severe cases. Mild and moderate categories don’t represent addiction.

A study that based its result on DMS 5 led by Deborah Hasin of Columbia University came up with a result regarding the query ‘Is marijuana addictive?’. There are 30% of marijuana users who are dependent or abuse the use. They got this percentage based on the DMS 5 definitions.

Weed Effects in Your Brain

A study was conducted to focus on the effects of marijuana on the neural connectivity of the brain. The brain’s connectivity is abnormally high especially for users who started the consumption when they were young adults. It was mentioned in the journal entitled Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging.

Addiction is attributed to dopamine which is a chemical that carries information through brain neurons. This chemical also deals with other bodily functions from learning and attention to feelings and motor skills. 

Dopamine is particularly attached to pleasure which is the cause of the weakness of humans like an addiction. But it’s not doing it alone as adrenaline, serotonin a.k.a feel-good chemical, and others mingle with the same functions. They are neurotransmitters that come back and forth while you do any type of activity.

It’s made possible by the endocannabinoid system which acts as a puppet for the neurotransmitters. There is a balance on other parts of the brain while it keeps information going. Experiences are based on their directives.

But there will be some distractions when THC comes into the scene. It is the master of disguise as it can copy the brain’s endocannabinoids and binds to the cannabinoid receptors in the body. When you get stoned, your brain has overflowing dopamine. The process of emotions and pleasure is interrupted. But most people would have a nice feeling. 

This kind of feeling becomes stronger and stronger every toke so the users tend to keep on coming back for more. So when a person starts young, the normal state and function of the brain are altered. Thus, a bad hitch makes young users form an addiction to it.

Is Marijuana Addictive: The Risks

When a person has an addiction to any kind of substance, it assumes control over their lives. Distortion happens in their mind, thinking, body functions, and behavior. It’s like there are wires on their brain that were replaced so they extremely crave for a certain substance.

Addiction leads to tolerance too as the craving intensifies. It gets higher over time. Marijuana is on the list of illicit drugs but not all users lead a destructive life. Men are easily attracted to their consumption rather than women. It’s one of the factors that lure users in using it. 

According to experts, marijuana addiction is developed when starting young, frequent use, the potency of the weed, and depression or other psychiatric ailments. People ages 25 years old and above who have moderate consumption remain stable and no complications. 

Smoking every weekend as an adult is a tolerable habit. It would only be risky if you’re in an unsafe environment or a mental illness persists. Infrequent consumption won’t drastically change your life but if it’s done almost daily, you should know where it’s taking you.

The Spirit of Marijuana in this Era

You now have the answer to the question: ‘Is marijuana addictive?’. You may be curious about how it is with the affected people. Disbelief is in them and they can’t acknowledge their addiction at all.

They are in denial due to altered cognition or other factors that are caused by disorders. Perception of marijuana in this age makes it hard to distinguish marijuana use disorder from addiction. It’s mostly mixed up with weed compared to other substances. 

When looking back to the classic view about addiction, it can start with withdrawal which is also mentioned in DSM 5. A survey was conducted from 2012 to 2013 asking users starting with the age of 18. Twelve percent of the respondents had attempted withdrawing from marijuana. 

The syndrome brought symptoms are like depressive disorders. Nervousness and anxiety were experienced by 76% of the participants. Hostility was encountered by 72% while 68% find it difficult to fall asleep. The depressed mood made 59% struggle more.

Physical symptoms also existed like headaches, sweating, tremors, or shakiness. Withdrawal syndrome has solid evidence as such characteristic is confirmed by the clinical, laboratory, and epidemiologic studies. 

When people who have heavy consumption meet the symptoms, they would think the other way. The symptoms are calling for a dose of marijuana for relief. Then they feel better and they think that marijuana is their way out from unpleasant experiences. 

Edwin Salsitz, a professor of psychiatry who specializes in addiction medicine attested withdrawal syndrome is real. The weed nowadays is far different from what the older generation had. 

The THC content in the weed produced in the 1960s is lower than the modern cultivated plants nowadays. Marijuana smokers in the past are mostly adults but unfortunately, kids indulged in getting high in this era. This plant may not be addictive to a 25-year old hippie in the past compared to a teenager at the present who consumed weed with a full blast of THC.

The Increase of Marijuana Potency Corresponds to ‘Is Marijuana Addictive?’

Researchers discovered that there are 500 various compounds and 100 cannabinoids can deliver the effects of marijuana. But more studies are needed to identify the forte of every compound. The potency of weed is credited to THC.

The increase of potency or THC is due to the discovery of sensimilla which is an unfertilized female marijuana plant. It doesn’t produce seeds but instead, put its energy in producing very potent flowers. 

A 100% decrease in regular plants took place in 1995 while 20% of the same thing occurred in 2014. The number of sensimilla rose to 80%. The illicit marijuana market is filled with highly potent weed. The problems would impregnate twice among users who have this kind of buds.

Summing it Up

As legalization and widespread use of marijuana takes the center stage these days, you shouldn’t ignore the possible risks. Experts have given the answers to the question ‘Is marijuana addictive’ which made a lot of people curious. It’s best to be responsible for your intake and don’t consume excessively. Too much of everything is always not good for a person.