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Is Marijuana Addictive?

In the last number of years, states across the nation have been legalizing the recreational use of marijuana (cannabis), not just for medical reasons. Advocates say it’s a natural plant and has less of a chance for addiction; therefore, it needs to be legalized. Opponents argue that opium is also natural, and yet, opioids that are derivatives of opium are highly addictive. So, how can you know? In today’s blog, we will discuss marijuana and leave it up to you to draw your conclusions.

Marijuana the Plant

Cannabis, or pot, as it’s been known for decades, has a long history of human use. Most ancient civilizations didn’t grow the plant, but they used it for all types of medicine. Earliest uses date back to 500 BC in Asia. According to History.com, cannabis cultivation started around the time of early colonists in America. They grew hemp for textiles and rope; however, in the 20th century, political and racial factors led to criminalizing it. Now, as stated above, many states are legalizing it.

Before introducing the plant into Africa, Europe, and finally, the Americas, marijuana evolved in Central Asia. The first uses of hemp fiber led to clothing, paper, sails, and rope. People also used its seeds for food. Once it hit America, it was used for many things, because it’s fast-growing and easy to cultivate. Virginia, Massachusetts, and Connecticut colonies required farmers to grow hemp in the 1600s.

The early hemp plants had quite low levels of the chemical, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which makes up the plant’s mind-altering effects. Evidence shows that ancient cultures were aware of the psychoactive properties and cultivated some varieties that produced higher levels of THC, which were used for healing or in religious practice. 

Potential for Addiction

It wasn’t until 1996 when California was the first state to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. It would be nearly twenty-five years after a report from the National Commission on Marijuana, and Drug Abuse released a report detailing how the plant had less addictive properties than every other Schedule 1 drug. (LDS, heroin, and ecstasy)

Still, the amount of THC has increased dramatically in the last few decades. In the 1990s, the average THC content was around 4 percent. In 2012, it jumped up to 12 percent, with a few strains climbing as high as 37 percent. It’s in these more elevated amounts that the increase in addiction rises. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that using marijuana in these high amounts and for long periods can result in what’s known as marijuana use disorder, which could equal addiction in severe cases.

As many as 30 percents of marijuana users under the age of eighteen are four to seven times more likely to develop the disorder than that of adults; this results in dependence on the drug and withdrawal symptoms when not taking it. The symptoms include:

  • Mood and sleep difficulties
  • Cravings
  • Irritability
  • Decreased appetite
  • Restlessness
  • Physical discomfort

Marijuana turns to addiction when the person cannot stop using the drug, even when it disrupts their life. Studies suggest 9 percent of users will become dependent on the drug, which rises to 17 percent for those who begin taking it in their teens. In 2015, approximately four million people met the diagnostic criteria for marijuana use disorder, but only 138,000 have sought treatment.


Ardu Recovery Center Can Help

If you or a loved one finds their marijuana use has gotten out of hand, we can help. Our trained staff are experienced with dependence and addiction and will do everything they can to assist in your recovery. Our customized programs have proven successful when followed correctly. Please, call us today and take that first step to regain your life and health back.