Is Marijuana Addictive?

Haute Health / Introduction / Is Marijuana Addictive?

For most people using cannabis does not result in any form of weed addiction or dependency however cases of addiction to marijuana have been reported although they are extremely rare. Some people, likely people who have personalities which are particularly prone to addiction in general, have reported experiencing all of the symptoms of addiction and dependence after routinely using cannabis products.

Most commonly users never come close to anything resembling a harmful weed addiction when it comes to their cannabis use. This is so commonly understood that even when anti-drug campaigns would target cannabis it was always under the assumption that cannabis was a gateway substance that could lead users towards the use of harder and actually physically addictive substances. For the most part people who enjoy cannabis do not lose control over their use.

Is Marijuana Addictive?

“Is marijuana addictive? Yes, in the sense that most of the really pleasant things in life are worth endlessly repeating.”

― Richard Neville

Can Marijuna Be Addictive?

Is marijuana addictive? In the same way anything pleasant and easily accessible can become overwhelming or addictive you can also develop a cannabis addiction. Luckily however the simplest method to avoid becoming addicted to cannabis or any other mostly innocuous pleasure in life such as chocolate or video games is to exercise your self control and develop a stronger willpower. Weed addiction is primarily a psychological issue stemming from a lack of self control so if you find yourself unable to control yourself when it comes to hedonistic pleasures you may do well to use cannabis products cautiously to avoid becoming addicted to weed.

Just because the vast majority of cannabis users can enjoy smoking, eating or otherwise ingesting cannabis products on a regular – even daily – basis without ever developing a cannabis addiction doesn’t mean it isn’t possible at all. For some individuals even a drug with mild and extremely predictable effects like cannabis can result in a dependency that can be difficult for a user to shake.

Some studies have suggested that the widespread legalization and use of higher potency recreational cannabis has contributed to a slight increase in the amount of people reporting issues with addiction and dependency when it comes to cannabis products. Average potency for cannabis products has jumped in recent decades averaging between 10-20% THC content compared to much lower averages in years past. But what does it actually mean to be addicted to weed?

Can Marijuana Be Addictive?

Abuse vs Addiction

There is an important distinction to be made between the concepts of marijuana abuse and marijuana dependence. Both are possible unhealthy relationships a person could develop when consuming too many cannabis products but they are separated by some very important distinctions that should be made clear.

Marijuana abuse occurs when a person continues to smoke or use cannabis products despite the fact that the use of cannabis is having direct negative consequences in their life. Some examples of these kinds of consequences may include losing a job due to smoking, performing poorly at work, at school or as a member of a team or after running into trouble with the law over their cannabis use. By definition anyone who continues to use any substance after clear negative consequences have been imposed upon them as a direct result of using said substance can be said to have a substance use disorder.

But an important distinction must be made here. A marijuana use disorder is not strictly speaking the same thing as a marijuana addiction. A person with an addiction to cannabis or any other substance will have an underlying use disorder but will also display some or all of the classic behavioural symptoms of addiction.

These behavioural symptoms include losing control and needing larger and larger amounts of cannabis to feel satisfied, spending more and more time thinking about using cannabis, denial of any claims that they have changed as a result of their use, cannabis taking a central role in their life, their time and money is spent solely on the focus of acquiring and enjoying more cannabis, they will be prone to irritability and suffer angry outbursts when the supply runs out and last but not least in the face of all these negative consequences and more they will continue to use cannabis regardless.

Abuse vs Addiction

Can You Get Addicted To Weed?

How addictive is marijuana really? Unlike other more dangerous controlled substances such as alcohol or opiates forming a physical weed addiction is extremely rare. In most cases cannabis addiction is as rare as addiction to other pleasurable experiences like eating candy, binge watching television or masturbation. It is possible and it is certainly true that small segments of the population are particularly susceptible to developing an addiction to almost anything. However this is more a matter of personal responsibility, willpower and self control than a concern about the potential for marijuana addiction.

If you are the type of personality that struggles to not eat the entire bag of chips, the whole candy bar, or drink the entire bottle of wine in one sitting then you may be more likely to abuse cannabis in the same way you might abuse anything else. In order to avoid the concern of becoming addicted to weed it might be advisable to work on developing better self control and personal responsibility before adding cannabis into your lifestyle. Or at the very least start slowly and approach your use with caution and care to make sure you don’t start to rely on it for more than just the occasional evening of relaxation or for unwinding on the weekends.

The consensus among experts on addiction is that physical dependence on a substance develops in correlation to a rising tolerance level users experience after becoming a regular user of a particular substance. In the case of cannabis products this means that the more you smoke, eat, or otherwise utilize the more your body will require in order to achieve the same desired level of effect.

In the case of much more severe substances this is often coupled with serious physical withdrawal symptoms when use is ceased. Luckily for cannabis users physical withdrawal symptoms are rare and when they occur they are typically not more serious than a headache, loss of appetite, a persistent desire to get stoned, irritability and mood swings, an inability to focus and in some cases after heavy use difficulty falling and staying asleep. Thankfully most of these symptoms if they do present themselves are mild and don’t last much longer than a week or two before completely subsiding.

Can You Get Addicted To Weed?

Is Marijuna Addictive?

As we have previously discussed marijuana addiction is a definite possibility for a small number of people who use cannabis products however cases are rare and are not considered severe. Whether its a result of higher potency or the much more easily available and socially acceptable recreational legal weed products flooding the Canadian marketplace the number of people who seek treatment for issues with marijuana abuse and dependence have increased in recent years but not at a level that would suggest it is a serious social concern on the scale of alcohol or opiates.

If you or someone you love is struggling with a weed addiction or an addiction to any other controlled substance there are a wealth of resources available to help. As with any substance or pleasurable experience in life people typically reach out for assistance when their dependence becomes painful for themselves or others in their life due to the mounting or overwhelming negative consequences that result from their continued use.

If you would like to discuss your marijuana addiction or another substance abuse issue with a trained professional you can find the appropriate resource for your province listed below:

​​ ​​​Alberta​​ ​​(Addiction Helpline, Alberta Health Services)
​​ 1-866-332-2322

British Columbia​ (Alcohol and Drug Information and Referral Service)
1-800-663-1441
604-660-9382

Manitoba (Addictions Foundation of Manitoba)
Adult services: 1-855-662-6605
Youth services: 1-877-710-3999
204-944-6200

​​New Brunswick (Addiction Centres, Department of Health)
506-674-4300

Newfoundland and Labrador (Addictions Services, Department of Health and Community Services)
1-888-737-4668
709-729-3658

Northwest Territories (Department of Health and Social Services)
1-800-661-0844
867-873-7037

Nova Scotia (Mental Health and Addictions Services, Nova Scotia Health Authority)
1-888-429-8167

Nunavut (Kamatsiaqtut Help Line)
1-800-265-3333
867-979-3333

Ontario (ConnexOntario)
1-866-531-2600

Prince Edward Island (Addiction Services, Health PEI)
1-888-299-8399
902-368-4120

Quebec (Drugs: help and referral)
1-800-265-2626
514-527-2626

Saskatchewan (HealthLine, Ministry of Health)
811 or 1-877-800-0002
306-766-6600

Yukon (Mental Wellness and Substance Use Services, Health and Social Services)
1-866-456-3838 (for Yukon, Nunavut and NWT)
867-456-3838

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