Marijuana is becoming an increasingly popular drug across America due to more relaxed legal restrictions popping up everywhere. However, controversy still surrounds the drug. For every marijuana advocate, you can find someone extremely against it. Moreover, many people in recovery wonder whether or not they can use this drug safely or if weed is really addictive in the first place. So, what’s the truth? Can you really get addicted to weed?
Despite a lot of controversy and debate about the topic, marijuana can be good or bad depending on how it’s used. For example, medicinal cannabis is extremely helpful in managing an array of difficult and painful medical conditions. However, thousands seek rehab for weed addiction each and every year. Although the drug is increasing in popularity and recreational use, there are still dangers associated with chronic marijuana abuse – including the risk of becoming addicted to weed.
What is Marijuana?
Marijuana, or weed, describes the dried flowers from the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant. The plant, which is the most commonly abused psychotropic drug in America, contains a mind-altering chemical called THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is the compound known to create the euphoric high that using marijuana produces. While THC is also found in extracts and concentrates like oils, wax, and more, this article focuses on the abuse of the flower-form of marijuana.
When smoked, THC passes from the lungs to the bloodstream, where the compound is absorbed throughout the body and acts on cannabinoid receptors. While under the influence of weed, the effects produced include:
- Altered sense of time, senses, and overall perceptions
- Mood changes
- Bloodshot eyes
- Fast heartbeat
- Impaired movements and memory
- Difficulty problem solving
- Impaired cognitive abilities
- Impaired judgment and coordination
In the past, marijuana was labeled as a gateway drug that was known to expose people to more harmful substances. However, it is increasingly used for medicinal purposes around the world today. For example, studies suggest that medical marijuana may be able to help treat the following conditions:
- Appetite loss and eating disorders
- Crohn’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Mental health conditions
- Multiple sclerosis
- Pain conditions
- Muscle spasms
- Wasting syndrome
Like any medicine with the potential for abuse, if you’re using marijuana to treat an underlying condition, it should be done under the supervision and guidance of a medical professional. On the other hand, if you’re self-medicating or abusing marijuana in a compulsive and habitual manner, you might be addicted to weed.
Marijuana Abuse in the United States
While people have smoked marijuana for hundreds of years, the United States has begun approving marijuana for medical use in an increasing number of states. Similarly, many states have begun decriminalizing the recreational use of the drug. As a result, the drug is increasingly popular in today’s society. More than 11.8 million young adults abuse marijuana each year and the number of young adults to believe marijuana is safe to consume is increasing. However, experts are concerned about marijuana abuse because some people show signs and symptoms of addiction after abusing the drug for an extended period of time.
An additional concern about marijuana abuse is the increasing potency of the drug. For example, in the 1990s the average THC content was less than 4%. However, in 2018, the average THC content was over 18%. This means more and more people are abusing stronger and stronger weed, increasing the likelihood of tolerance, abuse, and ultimately, drug addiction (also known as marijuana use disorder).
In high doses, the drug can produce temporary hallucinations, paranoia, or worsening symptoms of depression, anxiety, or schizophrenia. However, it’s important to note that clinical findings have found some benefits of using the drug to decrease symptoms of mental illness. That’s why it’s important to work closely with a medical professional if you’re using marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Overall, about 4 million people in the United States met the criteria for a marijuana use disorder in 2015, but only 138,000 people sought addiction treatment.
Can You Get Addicted To Weed?
While marijuana is less deadly and less addictive than other substances of abuse, like alcohol, heroin, or cocaine, abuse of the drug can lead to problematic use, otherwise known as marijuana use disorder. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that 30% of people who abuse marijuana have marijuana use disorder. Furthermore, they explain that people who use marijuana before the age of 18 are far more likely to get addicted than those who do not.
If a person gets addicted to weed, he or she will develop a tolerance to the drug. As a result, this person will have to use more of the drug to get high. In addition, marijuana use disorder is often associated with withdrawal symptoms. When people who are addicted to weed stop using the drug, they typically feel irritable, unable to sleep, restless, and experience a lack of appetite and other forms of physical and psychological discomfort.
People who suffer from weed addiction typically report lower life satisfaction, poor mental and physical health, problems with relationships, work, and school, and other problems. If you’re addicted to weed and are tired of facing these challenges, get the help you need today.
Get Help For Marijuana Addiction Today
If you’re addicted to weed, it may be easy to deny the true extent of your problem – especially with the increasing social acceptance of the drug. However, addiction is addiction, regardless of the substance or behavior that a person is addicted to. Don’t suffer in silence – our addiction specialists in Indiana can help. Contact us today to learn more about our drug rehab programs for marijuana addiction.
Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.