Is marijuana addictive?

Published Jan 29, 2019 01:49 p.m. ET

 Marijuana has mind-altering properties but are they addictive? The most common illicit drug used in the world is marijuana. The exact statistic is unknown, but it is thought that perhaps between 10 to 30 percent of the people who smoke the herb will develop a dependency, although only 9 percent have reported actual addiction. By my math, that means that 90% of users are not addicted.

To answer the question of addiction, we must first state what addiction is. Changes in a person’s brain or behavior as a result of a drug is a sure sign of addiction. Let's keep in mind that dependency is when your brain gets used to the drug in your system resulting in your endocannabinoid receptors not working properly. The receptors tend to slow down. So, therefore, it is possible to be dependent on the drug but not be addicted.

Signs of addiction can include but are not limited to problems at work or in relationships, changes in your mood, the need to use more of marijuana to achieve your high, reduced time doing other activities and spending more time getting high.

On the other side of the pendulum, there are some that believe weed is not physically or mentally addictive. Those that have smoked or used marijuana in some form for many decades state it is no problem to quit. The only way to know is to watch them quit.

Drugs used to treat marijuana addiction

 Withdrawal symptoms including insomnia, fatigue from insomnia, anxiety and depression. These can all be part of the journey of withdrawal. Private in-house residential centers are popping up over the country specializing in marijuana detoxing or withdrawal. These centers believe they can “cure” you in a week. Some withdrawal treatments bring about feeling cold, sweating and damage to taste buds after treatment.  It is not uncommon for people to have loss of appetite or chronic headaches. Many feelings experienced during this time can last a couple of weeks. Another mode of treatment being used today is cognitive behavior therapy. The drug Nabilone which mimics the effect of CBD but not the high from the THC is also an option for treatment.  Baclofen is another drug used to help you stop Marijuana use. Baclofen stops you from feeling rewarded after use and stops the pleasant, positive sensations that are associated with marijuana use. Another drug used to reduce the anxiety that could be associated with withdrawal is Vistaril. It is an antihistamine that is sometimes used for motion sickness, nausea and even vomiting.

How to recover from marijuana addiction

It's not clear if ingesting marijuana is addictive or not. There is no marijuana addiction test. One way to answer this maybe to use responsibly, as with any drug or substance that you might indulge in. Choosing to use marijuana is a conscious choice and you should do so in moderation. Monitor yourself, are you using too often?  Is it interfering with your regular everyday activities?  If you answered yes to any of these questions then perhaps marijuana is addictive.

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