Marijuana Addiction May Be Rare But It Still Happens

Marijuana Addiction May Be Rare But It Still Happens

As Canada inches closer to marijuana legalization, it’s not only becoming easier to purchase marijuana, but smoking it wherever and whenever you please is also becoming a lot more accepted. With fewer roadblocks in the way of enjoying the occasional joint, it’s only natural that people are doing it more and more. Most people will tell you that even if it never became legalized, that wouldn’t stop them from smoking it anyway.

You don’t really hear about marijuana being an addictive substance the way you hear about cocaine, heroine, crystal meth or alcohol addiction. That’s because marijuana addiction is pretty rare. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), about 9% of people who use marijuana become abusers.

People use marijuana for a number of reasons including for anxiety control, pain management, as a social lubricant or artistic muse or just for something to do on a lazy weekend afternoon. For most people it doesn’t pass over into addiction territory—or if it does for a short period of time, they’re able to get control of it relatively easily (if they choose to).

Some of the things that might put a person at risk for developing a marijuana addiction include a genetic predisposition to addictive behaviours, high stress levels at work or at home, mental illness or experiencing some kind of trauma. Smoking weed can help mellow out anxiety and help people wind down after a stressful day, but just like any drug, the more you do it, the higher your tolerance will get. You’ll have to smoke more and more to get the same benefits and eventually you’re smoking just to break even.

Once tolerance sets in, the next stop is dependence. If someone uses a drug often enough, the brain will become accustomed to it. The brain will then compensate by adjusting a function the drug lowered, like heart rate for example. Then when the drug wears off, the person’s heart rate will start to race because the brain isn’t used to functioning without the drug. Those kinds of symptoms are what’s called withdrawal. So, if you try to cut back on your marijuana use and you experience negative side effects, that means you were dependent on it.

Heavy marijuana users have reported experiencing withdrawal symptoms when they cut back, but they don’t last nearly as long as if they were quitting a hard drug like heroine. Most people report feeling completely normal after a week at the most, so evidence suggests that a little will power and the desire to quit is all some people really need to kick even the most extreme marijuana habits.

In general, most people never let their marijuana habit become a problem. Even if they use it daily, they can remain functional, kind of like people who have a glass or two of wine every night with dinner. That being said, like everything else in life, moderation is key, so make sure to stay in control of your pot intake and addiction should never be an issue.

Courtney Hardwick

Courtney Hardwick

Courtney Hardwick is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her work has appeared on AmongMen.com, 29secrets.com, therichest.com, and ELLECanada.com.  When she isn’t writing about relationships, and the best TV shows and books you should really already know about, she is working on her novel. She hopes to have it published by 2025. You can follow her on Twitter @Courtooo.

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