Marijuana Isn’t Really Addictive – Is It?
“It’s just a plant, right? How bad for you can it be?”
“Cannabis has pain-relieving properties. It’s no worse for you than anything you’ll find in your medicine cabinet.”
“It’s already legal in many states and soon it’ll be legal nationwide!”
It’s hardly rare to hear people argue that marijuana isn’t really a drug, that it’s not addictive, and that it can have no ill effects on users. Indeed, there is abundant evidence to support claims about its therapeutic benefits when used in moderation. But the notion that it’s impossible to become addicted to marijuana is simply untrue. Despite the many myths that abound about the popular plant, ongoing usage does come with the potential for adverse consequences.
Let’s begin by taking a closer look at some of the rationalizations given here and examining why they don’t hold up to scrutiny:
Myth: “Nobody actually gets addicted to marijuana.”
Fact: The data reflects that up to 30% of marijuana users may have some degree of addiction to the drug, and those who begin using marijuana prior to the age of 18 are 4 to 7 times more likely to develop a dependency later in life.
Myth: “It’s just a plant, right? How bad for you can it be?”
Fact: Tobacco is also “just” a plant, and it’s responsible for 480,000 deaths every year in the United States – and marijuana contains many of the same harmful substances as tobacco, including phenols and nitrosamines. Though there’s less available data about the long-term risks of smoking marijuana, research suggests has found that the lung tissue of regular marijuana users display changes associated with the development of cancer.
Myth: “Cannabis has pain-relieving properties. It’s no worse for you than anything you’ll find in your medicine cabinet.”
Fact: There is substantial evidence that cannabis can offer pain relief to cancer patients, people living with chronic pain conditions, and others. However, the notion that it must be safer than prescription pharmaceuticals is misleading. Though prescription painkillers can indeed be harmful if misused, they are subject to a level of safety testing, federal regulation, and professional supervision that marijuana is not, and there is more available information about the consequences of long-term use.
Myth: “It’s already legal in many states and soon it’ll be legal nationwide!”
Fact: Marijuana has become legal in many places in recent years, but its legality alone means very little about its risk for abuse. Cigarettes and alcohol are also legal to purchase throughout the United States, yet many people are addicted to both, and both are indirectly responsible for countless injuries and deaths each year.
The safety of marijuana is far more complicated than any of these myths would have you believe, and its addictive potential cannot be denied.
Marijuana Dependency: The Reality
To further paint the picture of marijuana’s addictive potential, let’s look at some more facts and figures:
1. There are addiction rehab centers devoted solely to helping patients with marijuana dependency. This runs counter to the notion that marijuana cannot be addictive. In fact, there’s a growing need for cannabis withdrawal treatment within the United States.
2. As of 2015, as many as 4 million Americans have been found to show signs and symptoms of marijuana dependency. (Source: https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/marijuana-addiction/treatment-rehab/#gref)
3. The THC content of marijuana has almost doubled since the early 1990s, leading to increased potency and greater psychoactive potential.
4. Admissions to marijuana treatment centers have actually increased in recent years. This may be due to increasing rates of usage and dependency, but it can also be attributable to the de-criminalization and de-stigmatization of marijuana use making it possible for dependent people to obtain cannabis withdrawal treatment (Source: https://talbottcampus.com/marijuana-statistics/#addiction-and-treatment).
How Do I Know it’s Time to Seek Help?
Over time, regular marijuana usage can lead to dependency. In the long term, this can cause adverse effects including impaired memory, poor coordination, slow reaction times, dry mouth, red eyes, blurred vision, hunger, and paranoia. If your usage escalates to the point of dependency, you may also exhibit symptoms such as sleeplessness, irritability, decreased appetite, anxiety and drug cravings. If you find yourself engaging in drug-seeking behaviors, this too is a sign that your marijuana usage is becoming unmanageable and adversely affecting your life.
At this point, many users will attempt to reduce their usage or quit marijuana altogether. But for heavy users, scaling back their consumption may lead to withdrawal symptoms. These can include:
– Increased need for sleep
– Psychomotor retardation
For people struggling with severe dependency, these symptoms can be disruptive enough to interfere with day-to-day life, potentially jeopardizing your relationships and employment. If you find your efforts to cut back on marijuana usage are leading to any combination of these symptoms, this is a sign that you may require professional intervention. Fortunately, Ascendant New York Detox is here to help. Our staff of compassionate, highly trained professionals is on call to assist those looking to improve their lives by overcoming their reliance on marijuana and other substances.