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Is Marijuana Addictive?

Marijuana, cannabis, weed, … whatever name you call it, is the most widely used illicit substance in Canada. According to the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey, 12.2% of Canadians aged 15 or older have used marijuana in the past year. Similar to that of alcohol, marijuana use has become increasingly common and socially acceptable in society. Pop culture often depicts marijuana as not a big deal, and even comical. Because of the conflicting dialogue surrounding marijuana, there are a lot of misconceptions about marijuana and its usage. And with the federal government recently unveiling plans to legalize it, now more than ever it’s important to know the facts when it comes to the risks and concerns related with marijuana use and be able to answer the question: Is Marijuana Addictive?

The Risks

The bottom line is, marijuana, like all drugs, poses both short and long-term risks. Use of marijuana has adverse health, safety, social, academic, economic and behavioural consequences. There is also a growing consensus that marijuana use can harm developing adolescent brains. And like all psychoactive substances, it can be addictive.

1. Rising Potency

Due to improvements in growing and production techniques, marijuana is far more potent than it used to be. In fact, the intoxicating chemical in marijuana called THC has risen from an average of 3% in the 1980s to around 15% today. Some marijuana products can even have THC levels of 30% or higher .

How does this impact users?

In short, higher potency means higher risk. Products containing higher levels of THC are more likely to trigger negative effects like paranoia and anxiety, or impacts on judgement leading to serious harm, as well as lead to a higher likelihood of developing a dependency.

2. Addiction

Despite common belief, marijuana is an addictive substance. Of all marijuana users, about one in eleven will become addicted. Further, when a young person begins smoking as a teenager, they have a one in six chance of becoming addicted. In 2010, more than 360,000 people sought treatment for addiction with marijuana being listed as the primary drug they were abusing .

Why worry about marijuana addiction?

Heavy marijuana abuse is associated with many problems or effects, from worsening mental and physical health, to reduced productivity and success, as well as impacts to relationships. There are also serious withdrawal symptoms with heavy users including insomnia, anxiety, depression and irritability.

Common Myths about Marijuana Debunked

1. Since it’s natural, it isn’t harmful.

It’s easy to believe that because marijuana is a natural plant, it can’t be harmful to the body. To debunk this myth, look no further than two other harmful substances that also come from plants: tobacco and opium. The reality is that despite being a plant, marijuana has the potential to be a harmful and addictive substance.

2. It’s a great, natural alternative to pharmaceuticals.

While marijuana can provide relief for people with certain medical conditions, its potential negative effects can’t be diminished. The truth is that marijuana smoke is a crude THC delivery system that also sends many harmful substances into the body. In fact, marijuana contains over 400 different chemicals. While for some it may be the best alternative for people who do suffer from certain medical conditions, it remains a mood altering substance that is harmful to individuals who suffer from addiction.

3. Driving high is safer than driving drunk.

Marijuana affects many brain functions essential to safe driving, including alertness, concentration, coordination, perception and reaction time. As such, driving under the influence of marijuana is not safer than driving under the influence of any intoxicating substance.

When a Problem Exists

Because marijuana use has become so commonplace in Canada, it’s easy to diminish how serious abuse can be. That’s why it’s so important to know the facts.

One other important fact? If you or someone you love is addicted to marijuana, recovery is possible. While marijuana addiction may not be as dire as some other addictions, it can still difficult to overcome. Recovery is a road with many ups and downs, involving time, effort and patience. However, there are many methods of treatment, therapy and support available to support you through every step of the way.

Contact a qualified professional at Cedars today to find out about our recovery services for marijuana addiction.

[1] http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/task-force-marijuana-groupe-etude/framework-c…
[2] http://www.narconon.ca/drug-abuse/marijuana/addictive.html
[3] Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

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Specializing in the treatment of alcohol and drug addiction, Cedars at Cobble Hill also provide treatment for other process addictions including eating disorders and gambling.