Since cannabis addiction is much less severe than tobacco and other addictions, providing a definition has become a challenging task for researchers and even gave birth to controversy.
Let’s review the latest research and find out if everyone can put down cannabis relatively easily.
Can One Really Be Addicted To Cannabis?
Let’s make one thing very clear from the start: no one has died from cannabis use. While this is an incredible fact that makes cannabis incomparable with tobacco and alcohol addiction-related deaths, it also misleads that marijuana addiction doesn’t exist. Cannabis has a potential for being addictive, says the National Institute on Drug Abuse. According to this source, 30 percent of marijuana users develop some degree of marijuana use disorder, which takes the form of addiction in some cases.
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Here’s the list of signs of cannabis addiction:
- Unable to stop marijuana use
- Cannabis tolerance and withdrawal
- Spending a lot of time smoking cannabis
- Using more cannabis than intended
- Using cannabis to handle daily problems
- Depending on cannabis to relax
- Continuing to smoke despite the first health-related problems it causes
What Does Chronic Cannabis Use Mean?
A comprehensive, widely accepted definition of chronic cannabis use doesn’t exist. However, one can make safe assumptions by analyzing population samples in studies of chronic cannabis use. For example, a recent study published in “Diabetes Care” used chronic cannabis smokers with the following characteristics:
- Smoking an average of 10 ± 8 joints per day
- Smoking for 12 ± 9 years.
Also, scientists studying marijuana addiction also suggest that an addicted person is someone who attempted to quit several times throughout the years but failed every time.
So, an addicted individual is someone who smokes 10 joints on average every day for the past 10 years and tried unsuccessfully to quit.
Another important factor for addiction is lack of responsibility skills. According to Carl Hart, an associate professor of psychology at Columbia University who gave an interview to Healthline, addiction rates increase in population groups “who are not plugged in with jobs, families, and social networks.”
The health effects of cannabis addiction have been investigated for a long time, but limited evidence exists on addiction. Here’s what is known: after several days of marijuana use, it becomes stored in the body’s fatty tissue. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), one of the cannabinoids contained in the marijuana plant, is gradually released into the bloodstream.
One of the most comprehensive studies that summarized 20 years of adverse health effects of chronic cannabis use was published in Addiction journal and provided some interesting results. According to this study, a continuous supply of cannabinoids produces a continuous effect, so the person smoking cannabis on a regular basis will experience a slightly affected focus, concentration, and attention.
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Here’s the list of health effects described by the researchers:
- Acute Effects: anxiety, cognitive impairment, and low birth weight when used during pregnancy
- Chronic Effects: reduced learning, memory, and attention; bronchitis.
The Bottom Line
Cannabis addiction is rare but it very real and dangerous. Even though most people don’t experience withdrawal, some have to turn to rehab or support groups to beat the addiction. Preventing addiction thus should be a goal of every cannabis user.