The question is asked all the time. Is marijuana addictive? Many people argue over this, including marijuana users themselves. While some say marijuana is addictive and others do not, one thing that is certain is that marijuana can form a physical dependence. While 9% of people have a serious addiction (per Psychology Today), that’s 9% more than we would like to see. Being addicted to marijuana has perhaps one of the most deadly side effects and that is that it’s a gateway drug. If you or a loved one is unable to stop marijuana abuse, it could lead to addiction to not only the drug itself but also others.
What Makes Marijuana Addictive
Marijuana is one of the most widely used drugs. It is commonly referred to as “weed” or “pot.” Teens use it, even the elderly use it and it’s becoming more easily accessible each year. About 1 in 11 people will become addicted to marijuana when they use it (per Narconon). How does that happen? While the drug seems fairly harmless and is not typically associated with other drug addiction, it can still have a huge impact on someone’s life.
Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is what makes marijuana addictive. It comes from the cannabis plant and is dried and chopped up. When a person smokes pot, the THC in it interacts with the brain and gives the body and mind a relaxing sensation. People who have anxiety or depression commonly use marijuana to calm down their thoughts. People with bipolar disorder do the same. While smoking marijuana can be addictive because it helps the mental health, the downside is not worth it.
Simply put, people get attached to being relaxed and groggy. They like that their anxiety is calmed. The problem with this is that there is an increased risk of lung issues and under productivity, which brings us to our next point.
The Effects of Being Addicted to Marijuana
You may be asking yourself why it’s so bad to be addicted to something that just makes you relax a bit. While there are benefits to using marijuana, in the addiction world it is still ill advised. If you have an addictive personality, you risk overuse of the drug,m which defeats the purpose of using it in a healthy way. While some can use it recreationally, others become physically dependent and take away the casual attitude that society has with marijuana use.
Marijuana is a gateway drug. This simply means that smoking pot opens the door to tons of other possible drug addictions. Commonly, marijuana addiction can lead to opiate addiction and even psychedelic addiction. Marijuana users will often get tired of smoking and when a person stops smoking, rather than just being done with drugs, they look for something else to try.
There are tons of dealers who dish out illicit drugs and it’s very common that they will also carry mild Benzodiazepines and Psychedelics. These could be things like Xanax, Klonopin, and Acid. Benzos are a quick gateway drug to opiates as they produce a lethargic effect. Acid can lead to extreme anxiety because it opens up the mind up to lots of abstract thought and triggers the sympathetic nervous system.
While this seems like a slippery slope, the statistics prove that marijuana is, in fact, a gateway drug. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Marijuana users are three times more likely to become addicted to Heroin. Having access to a drug dealer that provides the drug means there is access to more drugs as well. Now that Marijuana is becoming legalized, there is medical marijuana, which provides a safer way to get the drug without gaining access to others as easily. Hopefully, this change will lead to fewer people with pot addiction moving to other things.
Impact on Mental Health
The most concerning aspect of marijuana use comes from how it affects our mental health. Marijuana users feel really happy when they are using the drug, but there are other feelings that are less talked about. Anxiety is a common side effect for marijuana users because the drug activates the fight or flight response.
Smoking pot also makes you really lazy. Addiction to the drug comes from the relaxed feeling, but this relaxed feeling stops you from being productive. This can have a huge impact on your mental health situationally because you risk missing out on a lot of things that can make you feel happy and healthy. For example, spending time with family, exercising and going to work. People who use marijuana often feel tired and stay in deep periods of sleep, which can make you sleep through your alarm and to put it simply, miss out on a lot. This can cause a lot of depression because the mind is not being stimulated enough.
All in all, recreational use of marijuana and addiction to it are simply not the same thing. If you have an addictive personality, addiction to marijuana can be very counterproductive to your overall well being.
Am I Addicted to Marijuana?
If you feel like your casual drug use has turned into more of an addiction, do not shame yourself. Marijuana consumers are taking over the country, there are plenty of people who smoke pot that shouldn’t be. Regular users run the risk of addiction often and those who don’t become overly attached simply don’t have the chemical makeup. This can be hard to understand, but some people simply don’t become addicted.
Do not let law enforcement, treatment counselors or even loved ones make you feel poorly about your substance abuse. If you’re addicted to the drug, you will find yourself smoking way too often. Or perhaps you’ll look for marijuana products with a higher THC content. Look at your spending habits. Do you dedicate lots of money to buying weed?
There are long-term effects of Marijuana on our productivity. Don’t become a statistic but rather find alternative ways of relaxation. Look for help in whatever way you feel comfortable. This could be in inpatient rehab, intensive outpatient rehab or simply some therapy to guide your habits in a better direction.