Some people believe that marijuana addiction is a myth, and that while smoking marijuana clearly gets a person high, it’s not an addictive substance and isn’t harmful. Unfortunately, it’s that belief that’s incorrect. Marijuana is an addictive substance that has a profound effect on the brain and can interfere with a person’s life and mental capacity over time. Smoking marijuana also puts one at a higher risk for cancer than someone who doesn’t smoke.
Marijuana addiction might be believed to be an exaggeration or myth by many because it’s unlike other addictions. Where a heroin, meth or cocaine user might become addicted and visibly dependent on the drug quite quickly, marijuana addiction usually develops over a prolonged period of time. A person who uses the drug often over an extended period of time can become addicted, but not all people do. With other drugs, extended use almost always ends in addiction.
Marijuana’s less obvious addictive symptoms and the less severe impact it usually has on a person’s life, at least at first, lead some people to believe it’s not addictive or problematic at all. This, and the ease of which a person can get a hold of the drug, has lead marijuana to be the most commonly used illegal drug in the U.S. Marijuana is the dried flowers, seeds, stems and leaves of the cannabis plant, or hemp plant. These dried and shredded pieces of the plant are generally rolled into a cigarette and smoked or put in the emptied casings of cigarettes or cigars and smoked. Some brew it into tea or put it in food, like brownies. Ingesting it in any of those ways causes a “high” that can eventually lead to a marijuana addiction.
Marijuana addiction is more common among teens who start smoking the drug than other groups. When marijuana is used during the teen years, studies have shown that the length of time it takes to go from smoking marijuana once to smoking it regularly was about the same length of time it takes for a teen to smoke a first cigarette and then begin smoking regularly. Surprising to some was that this was much shorter length of time that it took for a teen to go from a first drink to regularly using alcohol.
Marijuana addiction is treated much like other addictions, with the person first going through a detoxification program that helps with withdrawal symptoms and then moving on into treatment from there. Though many consider marijuana to be a milder drug than anything else, detoxification is still necessary. A marijuana addict will experience withdrawal symptoms of varying degrees, just like those withdrawing from other drugs.
A person suffering from marijuana addiction may suffer from extreme apathy about what happens in his or her daily life and the lives of others. There may be difficulty thinking, remembering things and learning, and mistaken perceptions. Studies have indicated that those with a marijuana addiction show the same sort of effects on their brain as those with addictions to “harder” drugs.