Thoughts of a Smoker: Is Marijuana Addictive?
When considering the legalization of marijuana, for both medicinal and recreational purposes, part of the discussion must be about the potential for abuse of marijuana and how addictive it can be. It's clear that one can be addicted to anything, like video games, gambling, food, football, and anything else, but those are largely psychological, not physiological.
So, how addictive is marijuana? And how important is it when considering its legalization, when so many other substances that are clearly more addictive than weed are legal? To what extent is the addiction potential physiological, and to what extent psychological?
Statistics, much more than anecdotes, are useful for evaluation of the abuse potential and addictive nature of a substance. As the definition of abuse is simply the use that is outside social and culturally accepted norms, we will be specifying between it and addiction. Addiction, to the DSM-IV, is the symptoms of abuse combined with tolerance, cravings, and withdrawal. While not specifically outlined in many medical journals, Wikipedia cites TruthOnPot.com as a source in their article on withdrawal from cannabis. They list the symptoms as follows:
1. Irritability, anger or aggression
2. Nervousness or anxiety
3. Sleep difficulty (insomnia)
4. Decreased appetite or weight loss
6. Depressed mood
7. Physical symptoms causing significant discomfort: must report at least one of the following: stomach pain, shakiness/tremors, sweating, fever, chills, headache
Part of the difficulty of classification is that results may vary to a great extent, with cannabis more so than other drugs. So, while marijuana may become an issue with dependence and withdrawal, how many people on average become full-blown addicted? From drugabuse.gov
"Long-term marijuana abuse can lead to addiction; that is, compulsive drug seeking and abuse despite the known harmful effects upon functioning in the context of family, school, work, and recreational activities. Estimates from research suggest that about 9 percent of users become addicted to marijuana; this number increases among those who start young (to about 17 percent) and among daily users (25-50 percent)."
Conclusion and Reflection
So, comparatively, marijuana has a very low addiction rate when compared to nicotine, heroin, cocaine, and caffeine. I know, for me personally, I miss the feeling of getting high when, for instance, I have to go clean for a job drug test. Especially when a few friends tease me and light up in my presence, all in good fun and humor. The feeling is much more, "Darn, I'd like to smoke and listen to some music or go for a walk, but I can't," not, "I NEED A FIX SOOO BAD! GIMME THAT JOINT!"
So, what have your experiences with it been? Have you ever felt a "burning" need to smoke, or know someone who has been damaged by addiction of marijuana?
Other Useful Hubs
- Thoughts of a Smoker: Is Marijuana Immoral?
My first Hub in the series, "Thoughts of a Smoker," which examines and discusses topics relating to marijuana through the eyes of a frequent user.
- Thoughts of a Smoker: Weeding Out The Stereotypes
A look at the typical stereotypes of marijuana users, aka "stoners."
- A Cautionary Tale of A Trip On Spice (Legal Bud)
A story warning of the dangers of the harmful chemicals used in synthetic cannabis.