Is it Possible to Get Addicted to Marijuana

There’s a common misconception going around that marijuana is not addictive. In fact, in recent years, it has been legalized in a dozen states and praised for its medicinal purposes. Unfortunately, this sends the message that marijuana is safe. In reality, marijuana can be addictive.

Let’s learn more about marijuana addiction, who is most likely to develop this problem and what types of treatment options are available.

What is Cannabis Addiction? How Common is It?

Marijuana use disorder is a diagnosis given to people who have a problem with their marijuana use. Some people are able to use marijuana recreationally and without any problems. But others exhibit problematic behavior, such as using the drug frequently and using it to get stoned.

It’s important to know that even people who use cannabis recreationally can develop an addiction. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that 30 percent of people who use marijuana have some degree of marijuana use disorder.

However, there are certain things that put people more at risk, and one of them is age. People who use marijuana before age 18 are four to seven times more likely to develop an addiction compared to people who start after this age.

What are the Risk Factors for Marijuana Addiction?

Not everyone who uses cannabis becomes addicted. So how can you tell who is at risk and who is not?

Addiction is the same disease whether a person is addicted to marijuana, cocaine, food or sex. It is a compulsive brain disorder that changes the way the circuitry works. An addict then seeks out its drug of choice, despite negative consequences. Without professional intervention, it’s almost impossible for a person to stop using on their own.

Because addiction is a complex brain disease, there are many factors at play. For example:

  • Certain brain characteristics make a person more vulnerable to addiction. It’s believed that some individuals feel more pleasure when using drugs. As a result, the brain seeks out this pleasure.
  • Some psychological factors are associated with higher rates of substance abuse, such as impulsivity, risk taking behaviors and sensation-seeking behaviors. Also, people who struggle with mental illness are more likely to develop a substance abuse problem.
  • Exposure to abuse, neglect or trauma can also influence a person’s addiction risk. People with a difficult background are more likely to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. Also, growing up in an environment where drugs and alcohol are accessible can raise the risk for addiction.
  • As mentioned above, the earlier a person starts using drugs, the more likely they are to become addicted. There are many reasons for this, including the fact that they haven’t learned healthy coping skills.

How Easy is it to Notice a Cannabis Addiction?

Marijuana addiction is a bit different from other drugs in that it takes longer to develop a problem. In fact, some users go on for years using marijuana and don’t realize when their use has crossed over to addiction.

Only a medical professional can diagnose a true cannabis addiction, but here are some of the criteria they look at. Having at least two of these symptoms within a 12-month period may indicate a marijuana use disorder:

  • Difficulty controlling or cutting down on cannabis
  • Having cravings throughout the day
  • Taking more marijuana than intended
  • Spending more time on using cannabis
  • Building a tolerance
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms
  • Giving up other activities to use cannabis

Could Today’s Stronger Pot be More Addictive?

Another factor to consider is that today’s marijuana is more potent than ever before. The marijuana available today comes from the same plant that has been used for thousands of years. But the THC levels are higher. In the 1990s, the average THC content in pot was less than 4 percent. In 2018, the numbers jumped to 15 percent.

These higher THC levels raise the concern that cannabis may be more addictive than in years past, especially for young, developing brains. Only time will tell, but this is a valid concern to have. As marijuana becomes legal in more states, researchers will hopefully study it from a public health perspective rather than a criminal justice perspective.

Is Marijuana Use Disorder Treatable?

As with other substance use disorders, a cannabis addiction is treatable. In fact, many people do very well with treatment because marijuana addictions are usually not as severe and intense as others.

And despite popular belief, there is no proof that marijuana is a gateway drug in itself. Some people may learn to rely on drugs to feel better and then progress to harder substances, but this does not mean that marijuana is the problem. Many people who smoke marijuana have never moved onto harder drugs.

So, as long as you’re only dealing with a marijuana problem, it’s likely that you can benefit from an outpatient treatment program. These programs are a great option because they do not require clients to live at the facility. Instead, clients attend meetings and support groups most days of the week while maintaining much of their normal schedule.

Why it’s Important to Address Underlying Problems

One of the main focuses of outpatient treatment is learning about the underlying triggers for drug abuse. Many people don’t realize that there’s unresolved trauma or an undiagnosed mental health disorder contributing to their problems.

A treatment center like Acceptance Recovery Center offers a number of restorative therapies. This gives our clients plenty of opportunities to explore their internal struggles, develop new coping mechanisms and have healthy outlets for stress. Some of our therapies include:

  • Trauma resolution
  • Eye movement desensitization response (EMDR)
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Relapse prevention
  • Art and music therapy

Contact Acceptance Recovery Center Today

If you are ready to start your recovery journey, contact Acceptance Recovery Center. We offer comprehensive care in a compassionate environment. With our integrated treatment program, you can heal your mind, body and spirit and pursue a healthier life outside our doors.