Can Weed Be Addictive? Your Questions Answered

We’ve all heard both sides of the story, right? On one hand, weed lovers claim marijuana has no downsides at all, and on the other, legalization detractors speak of it as if it were the worst thing on Earth.

It turns out neither extreme is quite right. Marijuana is a wonderful herb that has incredible benefits — but keeping addiction in mind is crucial for any weed enthusiast. Cannabis dependence is (luckily) relatively rare, but it still affects around 10% of weed users. Here’s what you need to know.

What Classifies as Addiction?

Let’s start by defining what cannabis addiction actually is. When you consume weed regularly (whether you choose to smoke it, ingest it, or apply it topically), your body adapts to it and starts desensitizing your endocannabinoid receptors — which regulate functions such as mood and sleep. Cannabis addiction is, biologically speaking, a dependence generated by the lack of production and sensitivity of the brain’s endocannabinoid neurotransmitters

Marijuana addiction starts as a condition known as marijuana use disorder, which may refer to several problems related to cannabis use. These range from using cannabis in high-risk situations (such as when driving) to constantly craving marijuana.

Experts estimate that three in 10 people who use marijuana have some degree of marijuana use disorder. But when does this condition turn to addiction?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines addiction as the compulsive loss of control over cannabis intake and the appearance of withdrawal symptoms. This means that the definition of cannabis addiction is much narrower than that of marijuana use disorder. Symptoms of cannabis withdrawal include:

  • Reduced motivation
  • Impairments in verbal memory
  • Higher stress and anxiety levels
  • Irritability
  • Sleep difficulties

The same report mentions three stages of problematic regular marijuana use: 

  • Marijuana use disorder: one or more problems that may arise from frequent cannabis usage 
  • Marijuana dependence: the development of withdrawal symptoms
  • Cannabis addiction: the loss of control over your intake

Can Weed Be Addictive?

Yes, weed can be addictive. Weed addiction often manifests through psychological symptoms rather than physical ones, but continued heavy usage can lead to physical dependence, too. 

A person who uses weed regularly may find themselves spending a lot of time both using and thinking about marijuana. In turn, this can cause problems at home, school, or work, and create tensions with friends and family.

If regular use continues, the person may also start using more marijuana than intended to get the same high due to THC tolerance. There may also be failed attempts at quitting, and it’s common to start missing important activities in favor of using cannabis.

This is when marijuana use disorder slowly turns into addiction — the person will find it more difficult to control their intake and will constantly seek to use more THC. Furthermore, they will find quitting challenging due to withdrawal symptoms.

How Does Cannabis Addiction Compare to Other Drugs?

Marijuana addiction is significantly different than that of other drugs. Experts estimate that the risk of developing cannabis dependence is less than 10%. This is significantly less than that of other drugs — for comparison, the risk of becoming dependent on alcohol is 15%, and 32% for tobacco.

Weed vs. Alcohol

This comparison is as old as weed is. A lot of people who are against the legalization of weed will often claim that cannabis is more addictive and dangerous than alcohol — but it’s actually the other way around.

Alcohol use disorder is present in 10.2% of Americans, with 24% reporting binge drinking in the last 30 days. Every day 385 Americans die as a result of excessive alcohol use.

Furthermore, excessive drinking can cause cancer, heart disease, and other conditions involving the liver, pancreas, brain, and immune system. Memory problems, hangovers, stomach problems, and poor sleep are also common among heavy alcohol users.

Weed vs. Tobacco

By now, most people have realized that cannabis isn’t the same as tobacco when it comes to potential health hazards. But it’s still possible to find legalization detractors who claim that the two are equally dangerous.

Tobacco is responsible for millions of deaths each year, and experts estimate that about 50 million people in America are addicted to nicotine. Tobacco smokers live, on average, 14 years less than nonsmokers due to the severe side effects — smoking can cause conditions such as lung cancer, heart disease, and strokes, among many others.

How To Enjoy Cannabis Responsibly

Even though marijuana dependence is somewhat rare, it’s always a good idea to ensure you’re being mindful about any substance use. Here we’ve gathered a few crucial tips that will help you enjoy cannabis responsibly:

  • Always keep an eye on your doses. Define how much you want to consume before you start, and try not to go over that limit.
  • Try to be intentional about your marijuana use. This will, in turn, prevent your cannabis use from becoming a mundane daily task.
  • Check your monthly marijuana use and compare it to the previous month. If you notice an increase, maybe it’s time to take a break.
  • Avoid developing a high tolerance. Regular weed breaks (known as T-breaks) can ensure you don’t end up needing to consume more cannabis to achieve the same effects.

If you notice yourself craving or using more marijuana than you can control, make sure you check with a specialist right away. No one sees addiction coming, and a lot of people end up developing weed dependence due to downplaying cannabis’s addictive potential.

Key Takeaways: Can You Get Addicted to Weed?

Marijuana dependence is real — however, it’s not as prevalent as it is in other drugs. Experts estimate that less than 10% of weed users become addicted. And while the side effects may not seem too harsh at first sight, addiction to any substance is always dangerous. If you’re noticing any unexpected increases in your THC usage, make sure you check with a specialist.If you’re looking for high-quality, reliable cannabis in Florida, make sure to take a look at our online menu. Here at VidaCann, we’ve got all your weed needs covered — from pre-rolled joints to top-shelf flowers, you’ll be sure to find something that’s a fit for you.

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