Yes. Though many advocates of marijuana legalization will argue that it is non-addictive, studies by the National Institute on Drug Abuse confirm that prolonged use, especially daily use, can cause addiction. Addiction is defined as a condition in which a person’s use of any substance interferes with aspects of their life and the person is unable or unwilling to stop. Cannabis’ status as a ‘natural drug’ does not remove the risk of dependency or addiction. Increasing levels of THC in cannabis also factors into its addictive nature. In the 1990s THC levels averaged at 3.7 percent in pure cannabis. The levels have increased to 9.6 percent as of 2013. The popularity of cannabis oils rich in THC, reaching up to 80 percent, is also a factor.
Symptoms of Cannabis Addiction
Though some may argue the validity of cannabis addiction as a health problem, this denial in itself is a warning sign. Defensiveness and irritation when confronted about one’s drug use is a universal sign of an addiction problem. Those abusing cannabis will often say there is no problem because cannabis has no lasting health risks. Studies show that up to 50 percent of people who engage in daily marijuana use will develop a dependency. Scientists continue to study the effects of marijuana use on developing brains into adulthood for a clearer idea of long-term effects. Decreased fertility, memory and learning issues, and an increase in mental illness have been linked to prolonged cannabis use and addiction.People who are experiencing marijuana addiction often require the drug before they begin the day (known colloquially as a “wake and bake”). Like other drugs, the user’s primary motivation becomes acquiring more marijuana. Some find themselves needing to remain in a perpetual high in order to function. Others report feeling sick or lethargic without partaking in cannabis on a daily basis- a classic symptom of dependency withdrawal. It is common for smokers who experience social anxiety to smoke before or during social outings as a form of self-medication. Lack of appetite without prior cannabis use is a red flag of addiction and biological dependency.
The Gateway Effect of Cannabis Addiction
A study performed by the Drug Policy Research Center in Arlington, VA found that though marijuana use does not necessarily increase the likelihood of “hard drug use”- cocaine, heroin, meth, etc- the possibility of a ‘gateway effect’ for marijuana use exists. Due to the existence of a prior propensity for drug use it is more likely for someone that is addicted to marijuana to dabble in hard drugs in search of a more intense high. The previously mentioned study found that participants that began smoking cannabis in their teens were 157 times more likely to have used a hard drug by the age of 21 than non-users. By comparison, those who began smoking at age 21 were only 24 times more likely to use hard drugs than non-users.If you suspect someone you love is addicted to cannabis, or you are struggling with marijuana addiction, a drug rehab center can help you quit before it’s too late.
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