Can I Actually Get Addicted to Cannabis?

Can I Actually Get Addicted to Cannabis?

Published on 3/30/22

As cannabis legalization has ramped up in every corner of the country, people are starting to recognize the legitimacy that the herb contains, whether that be on a medicinal or recreational level. With an increase of legalization means that people are starting to consume it more and more, starting with a wake & bake and ending the night with an edible to knock them out for a night of deep sleep. Smoking weed all day, every day may not seem like a problem, but cannabis addiction is a real thing. Keep reading below for what makes marijuana addictive, and what can possibly be done about it. 

Is Marijuana Addictive? Yes, but it Can Be Healthy, Too 


Before we dive deep into questions like, "does marijuana have addictive properties?", let's examine how cannabis can be incorporated into healthy living because after all, it is becoming legal in states for a reason. 

Cannabis, on a medicinal and even a recreational level, still has many benefits that go beyond just the euphoric head buzz and body numbing properties. Incorporating cannabis is helpful, especially for those who have issues with insomnia, or anyone who needs to get a good night's rest. Deep sleep is hugely important in our health and cannabis is one of the easiest ways to get that kind of sleep. Dosing with CBD, the non-psychoactive counterpart to cannabis has a multitude of therapeutic properties that include aiding in anxiety, inflammation, pain and can even relieve cancer-related symptoms. 

With eastern practices coming back into the forefront in western societies, meditation has never been more front and center. Especially today, it is paramount to keep grounded and come back to yourself - and people do this through meditation. Combining meditation with cannabis can work together in unison to create the perfect calming effect to deepen the meditative state. 

Cannabis can even be incorporated into an exercise routine if one feels comfortable enough. Combing the two can lead to overall greater enjoyment of exercise, can aid in recovery efforts, increase focus and lead to a better mind/body awareness that gets one out of their head and into their workout. 

What is Addiction? 

Addiction, in terms of substance abuse, is a complex condition and disease of the brain that is manifested by compulsive substance use despite the harmful consequences. Addiction can impair the ability to function on the day-to-day, distorting thinking or behaviors. With substance abuse addiction, tolerance will typically occur, and the usage becomes focused around feeling good, feeling better, doing better, or for experimentation. 

Symptoms are characterized into 4 categories. The first is impaired control, which includes cravings or failed attempts to cut down and control use. The second symptom manifests as social problems, causing failures to complete major tasks at work, school or home. The third is risky use, meaning there is continued use despite known problems. The last symptom is drug effects, meaning tolerance and withdrawal issues. 

Cannabis Use Disorder - Is Weed Addicting? 


Unfortunately, we know that the answer to the question of "is cannabis addictive?" is yes - it can be. The term is called Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD) and is defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as continued use despite impairment in psychological, physical or social functioning

Today, there are a total of 11 criteria and 3 severity levels defined for Cannabis Use Disorder. The 11 criteria for cannabis addictive symptoms include hazardous use, social/interpersonal problems, neglect of major roles, withdrawal, tolerance, using larger amounts for longer, repeat attempts to quit or control use, much time spent using, physical/mental problems related to use, activities are given up and craving. In mild cases, 2-3 symptoms are reported, in moderate cases, 4-5 and in severe, more than 6 marijuana addictive symptoms are reported.

CUD: A Difficult Diagnosis 

You may have never heard about CUD, and this could be for a few different reasons. For starters, this may be surprising because so many people consume cannabis on a regular basis, but we often forget that cannabis is still a schedule 1 substance, as heroin, LSD, and psilocybin are. It is also less than likely to overdose on cannabis, which is a sure sign of a substance abuse problem in almost any other case. One could also make the argument that CUD is more manageable than other addiction issues, as it can almost always fly under the radar and can be written off as someone who is just lethargic and unmotivated. Bottom line? Cannabis doesn't hold the stigmas for abuse as alcohol and opioids do. 

Legalization & Addiction - What's the Connection?


When it comes to legalization spreading throughout the US, one burning question on several minds is whether it will lead to an uptick in addiction and abuse of cannabis. One study from the University of Washington in 2020 states that there is a downward trend in teen marijuana use in Washington, where cannabis is legal recreationally. Another study published in JAMA Psychiatry suggested that marijuana legalization leads to possible addiction, especially those 26 and older. 

The more important conversation to be had isn't about whether you believe in legalization, but what public policy and education need to be put in place as legalization spreads. As we know with the continued War on Drugs, criminalization and jail time have always been implemented, prior to actual mental health services. However, in the wake of BLM and the general increase in social activism, cities are implementing reforms - bringing in social workers before police to de-escalate situations. Cities have seen success in implementing these ideas, so hopefully more will follow in 2022. 

What are your thoughts on CUD? Do you know anyone with this condition? What is the future of the substance as legalization spreads? Share your ideas with us below!

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