Marijuana Is an Addictive Drug

With the legalization of marijuana in many states, more and more people perceive its use as a non-addictive recreational activity. Unfortunately, this is a misconception. The legalization of recreational marijuana does not mean that marijuana is not addictive. Researchers found that around 30% of marijuana users may develop certain addictive disorders.

Furthermore, those who begin using marijuana before the age of 18 are found to be seven times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder. This means that young people who use marijuana, even for recreational purposes, may succumb to its addictive influences. If substance addiction can be generally defined as dependent and compulsive use despite evidence of adverse consequences on the body and the mind, then marijuana is undoubtedly a substance of concern. Its easy access can pose a serious danger to teens and young adults.

Symptoms of Dependence Among Marijuana Users

People who use marijuana regularly may develop a dependency, which entails withdrawal symptoms when not using it. In the area of mental health, there can also be irritability and mood problems. Physically, marijuana use disorder disrupts sleep patterns and causes a lack of appetite and other forms of discomfort when not used for one or two weeks.

On a neurological level, marijuana addiction is also manifested in how the brain reduces its own endocannabinoid neurotransmitters. Among young people, the effects of marijuana can be particularly damaging and lasting because they are at a vulnerable stage in terms of brain development. Around 17% of people who started using marijuana in their teens may develop a dependency and disorder.

The Dangerous Trend of Rising Potency in Marijuana

Since the early 1990s, it has been observed that marijuana potency or the concentration of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), a psychotropic ingredient, has been on the rise. By using methods like dry processing, people are making concentrate products that produce longer-lasting effects. The final product may look like a lip balm that can be consumed using vape pens.

Although additional research is needed to reveal how these concentrates pose health risks, the high level of THC in them and the presence of other contaminants may cause anxiety, agitation, paranoia, and psychosis. The process of production and usage (including using solvents) may also pose dangers, such as fires and explosions.

Legalization of Marijuana in Certain Jurisdictions Does Mean that It Is Not Addictive

The fact that some states in the United States have legalized medical and recreational use of marijuana does not mean that it is entirely safe to consume for the general population. Admittedly, marijuana may help people with certain medical issues, such as neuropathic pain and chemotherapy-induced nausea. However, more medical research correlates its use with symptoms of addiction and mental health issues.

One positive aspect of this development is that the stigma attached to marijuana is fading. However, misconceptions are also spreading fast as more and more companies try to market their products by the “marijuana isn’t addictive” narrative. Some even claim that marijuana can be psychologically addictive but not physically addictive. This is simply not true. It is important to educate young people that although marijuana is not highly addictive, it is becoming extremely popular and accessible, making addiction a potential problem. Along with this misconception are a few other false marketing narratives:

  • Myth: “You cannot overdose on marijuana.” Truth: In reality, it is certainly possible to use marijuana or concentrates too much to the extent that it becomes fatal.
  • Myth: “When using marijuana, you can beat a drug test.” Truth: THC can stay in your system for up to a week, so it is impossible to flush it out by drinking a lot of water or sweating it out. THC can build up if you use marijuana frequently, and it will take even longer to get it out of your system.
  • Myth: “Marijuana is just a gateway drug.” Truth: The vast majority of marijuana users have never used other drugs, but those who used cocaine or opioids have most likely used marijuana. There is no “gateway” correlation here.
  • Myth: “At least marijuana does not harm your key organs, such as lungs.” Truth: Inhaling smoke is generally bad for your lungs, whether it is from cigarettes or marijuana. Frequent use of marijuana may lead to chronic bronchitis and respiratory infection.

In summary, you should help your loved one carefully discern myth from truth. If they are struggling with marijuana use and its related mental health disorders, you should seriously consider working with health professionals.

Marijuana is an addictive drug. Treating marijuana use as a recreational activity is a misconception. Like other drugs and alcohol, marijuana may lead to similar dependence and mental health disorders. Because it has become the most common substance, educating young people about the adverse health effects is important. At South Florida Intervention, we have professionally trained interventionists to work with people who struggle with marijuana addiction, including teens and young adults. Our recovery coaches can also help educate these young people as well as their parents. We take a non-confrontational approach, and we encourage parents to become more recovery-supportive instead of shifting blames on each other. Over the years, we have helped many families to support their loved ones toward long-term sobriety. You will benefit from a range of services we offer, including recovering coaching, parent coaching, sober escort, and detailed case management. We can also connect you with trusted health professionals. Call us at (202) 390-2273.