Marijuana Addiction, a Growing Risk as Society Grows More Tolerant

The American Psychological Association has been talking for several years now about how society is growing more tolerant to the concept of marijuana usage, and as such, the addiction to marijuana is a risk that is growing by leaps and bounds.

Is Marijuana Addictive?

People who use marijuana recreational are often concerned about whether or not they are going to become addicted, and unfortunately the answer to this question is not an easy one to find. A book called The Science of Marijuana, which was published in 2008 and written by Leslie L. Iverson reviews decades worth of research conducted internationally on the subject of marijuana, and this includes both survey research and laboratory research. Based on the research he or she conducted, an estimated between 10 percent and 30 percent of all regular users of marijuana are going to develop a physical dependency, but only approximately 9 percent are going to develop a serious addiction.

Marijuana Addiction, a Growing Risk as Society Grows More Tolerant

The large majority of marijuana users are only trying and using the drug experimentally or for recreational or casual purposes, and so they never really become addicted. There are very few severe withdrawal symptoms which are associated with marijuana use, meaning that most people can simply quit using the drug whenever they please without much of a backlash. When they are present, some of the withdrawal symptoms that are most commonly linked to marijuana withdrawal include sleep disturbances, anxiety, nausea, depression and gastrointestinal problems.

The bottom line is that while marijuana is addictive for approximately 10 percent of all recreational users, most users of the drug never experience a problem. Still, marijuana does have some serious issues that need to be considered, mainly:

  1. Marijuana is considered by many to be a gateway drug. Once someone begins seriously abusing marijuana, it seems to make sense to them to experiment with other types of drugs as well. This is not the case for every marijuana user, but many do fall into this trap, especially those between the ages of 16 and 30.
  2. Marijuana support is gaining ground because people perceive it to be a harmless, natural drug. The problem with this picture is that many of the people who support marijuana do not fully understand the potential dangers that the drug carries, or the fact that the drug does feature an addictive nature.

Nora D. Volkow, MD, who is the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s director, has said that people are frequently misinformed about the dangerous and the addictive nature of the drug. She said this during a congressional briefing on March 8 in Washington D.C. Her talk was sponsored by the APA and was designed to give policymakers and congressional aides the latest and greatest research findings on the harms and the benefits of marijuana.

According to Statistics Released by Volkow:

  1. Approximately one third of all Americans have tried using marijuana at least one time.
  2. Marijuana is the most commonly-used of all illegal drugs in the United States, which is largely why it is a prime target for research.
  3. NIDA has estimated that approximately nine percent of all occasional to frequent users of marijuana have become dependent on the drug.

Volkow states that the reason people take other drugs is the same reason they take marijuana, which is because drugs make you feel good. This good feeling is derived from the brain, which relies on a dopamine-based reward system in the nucleus accumbens region. There are compounds in the marijuana which bind to the cannabinoid receptors in the brain and this results in a high by triggering the release of dopamine. When the brain stops experiencing this high, withdrawal and dependency are not far behind. The brain will try to convince the body that more is needed, and a serious abuse problem or addiction can occur without warning.

Because marijuana abuse can be dangerous and addictive, getting help for marijuana use sooner rather than later is your best bet. If you are struggling with a marijuana problem, then now is the time to get help before it does become a serious addiction. If someone that you know and love is struggling with marijuana use without a valid, licensed reason to use it, then an intervention may be in order. Nobody has to struggle with any kind of substance abuse, so overcome your use of marijuana now with the right treatment facility, because a sooner recovery will be the best recovery.

Leave a Reply