Saturday, March 5, 2011

Q&A: Is Marijuana Addictive?


Hi mary. 
I was wondering is marijuana addictive for people like other drugs??  my brother swears it is but I read some where it was safer than aspirin?  Can you say one or the other so I can know for sure? i only used it twice ever and dont really like it taht much but will i be hooked if I smoke it again?


Fucker von fucksticks


Dear Fucker (sweet name!),

Your seemingly straightforward question gets a little tricky when you consider the different meanings and interpretations of the word 'addiction'.  To understand just how broad the term has become, have a look at this study by the National Institutes of Health that describes a woman with a carrot addiction.  I'll wait.

Modern pharmacology separates addiction into two basic types:  physical and psychological.  Physical addiction is characterized by the need for a drug to prevent physical withdrawals.  This type of addiction is often seen in long-term users of opiates and depressants like alcohol or benzodiazepines.  To date, there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that marijuana is physically addictive, at least not enough to cause medically significant withdrawals.

That's not to say that weed can't become the object of a wicked psychological addiction.  People with psychological addictions engage in many of the same destructive acts as those with physical addiction, such as social isolation or stealing to finance their habit.  Gambling, sex, food and shopping are other examples of psychological addictions--all of which can destroy lives by wrecking finances, relationships, careers and self-esteem.  Marijuana is no different in this regard.  In addition, many self-proclaimed "weed addicts" describe symptoms like irritability, insomnia and anxiety when attempting to quit smoking.  While these symptoms are not fatal, they can make it very difficult to quit.  (Oh, and if you've been using weed to self-medicate an underlying condition like depression or anxiety, expect symptoms to return in full force after giving up the ganj). 

To conclude, marijuana is not physically addictive but can be habit-forming for some people.  Since there's no way to predict who will form an unhealthy relationship with pot, it's best to use responsibly.  To reduce the risk of weed addiction, avoid using it daily and save it for weekends, holidays or other special occasions.

Your Compassionate Companion in Cannabis Consumption,

Mary Microgram


National Institutes of Health: Carrot Addiction

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