Whether you do or don’t consume cannabis, do you know how much of a widely-used substance cannabis is? According to the United Nations’ World Drug Report, the number of cannabis consumers could be as high as 238 million people worldwide. If the U.N. Report is accurate as it claims to be, then cannabis is categorized as the most widely-used drug in the world. Despite cannabis being medically legal in many U.S., information has been released regarding increased rates of cannabis dependency and addiction.
Is cannabis addiction possible, and if so, how many people are affected by it? Keep reading to learn more about cannabis dependency and addiction and whether it has recently increased due to U.S. states that have medically and/or recreationally legalized cannabis.
About Cannabis Dependency & Addiction
If cannabis dependency and addiction are possible, what are the chances of one experiencing this? As mentioned in a Denver Post article, within the medical and public health communities, cannabis addiction is categorized as a disorder that consists of different physical withdrawal symptoms, cravings, and even psychological dependence. It’s possible to become addicted to cannabis without even realizing it. However, the chances aren’t as high as one may think.
According to The Denver Post, it has been estimated that around 9 percent of all cannabis users become addicted. Out of the percentage who become addicted to cannabis, 17 percent of the individuals begin consuming cannabis during adolescent years. How does this percentage compare to ones of other substances though? As some may guess, the estimated rate of cannabis addiction is much lower than the addiction rates of cocaine (15 percent) and heroin (24 percent).
Regardless, different statements have revealed recently that cannabis addiction is rising. Some believe that cannabis addiction is rising because of the newly released cannabis products on the market, especially ones with high THC levels. Several decades ago, cannabis wasn’t nearly as potent as it is now. However, is this to say that these high THC cannabis products result in a higher addiction rate? No, not necessarily.
Progression of Cannabis Products & Their Role in Cannabis Dependency and Addiction
In addition, since more states have medically and recreationally legalized cannabis, different breeders have taken an interest in breeding high THC strains. In recent years, selective cannabis breeding has led to certain strains containing 20 percent THC, and other strains exceed 30 percent THC. Whereas, cannabis extracts and concentrates contain even higher THC levels.
According to marijuana industry promotional information and drug enforcement administration reports, cannabis concentrates and extracts contain levels of THC with a range of 40 to more than 80 percent. However, this doesn’t mean that these highly concentrated cannabis products result in a higher addiction rate. But rather, these products allow users to consume less to gain the relief they desire. Thus far, no scientific studies have been released that show that stronger cannabis products increase the likelihood/rate of addiction.
Prevalence of Cannabis Dependency & Addiction
As stated earlier, people can become dependent and/or addicted to cannabis. Although an estimated 9 percent of cannabis users become addicted, the number of users who become dependent varies. Some studies have reported that higher proportions of cannabis users end up developing a dependence to the drug for various reasons. Generally, cannabis dependency develops more slowly. Hence, why so many users don’t notice any signs/symptoms related to addiction. It’s possible for dependency symptoms to affect an individual’s life months or years after first beginning to use cannabis.
If and when a dependency problem occurs, individuals often endure withdrawal symptoms once they stop consuming cannabis. Different Northern California clinics have noticed an increase in demand for individuals who are looking for help with this, especially those of adolescent age. The following was stated by David Smith, a physician who specializes in treating addiction in San Francisco, California, “There should be no controversy about the existence of marijuana addiction. We see it every day. The controversy should be why it appears to be affecting more people.”
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Even though numerous people consume cannabis multiple times a day and some consume products with high THC levels, this doesn’t mean that everyone will become dependent and/or addicted to cannabis. Of course, cannabis dependency and addiction are possible. However, currently, it affects a small percentage of users (less than 10 percent), and some of these users may potentially possess a predisposition to addiction. Thus far, there has been no reports of anyone dying from cannabis withdrawal symptoms nor from a cannabis overdose.
Overall, although a slight increase in cannabis consumption has occurred in the past three years, there are other factors to consider as to why this is the case. Keep in mind that cannabis dependency and addiction is possible, but unlikely in most cases. If you have any reason to believe you’re becoming dependent and/or addicted to cannabis, it’s suggested to talk with your doctor and figure out the next best steps.