Marijuana is addictive. Unfortunately, mainstream media and the recent legalization of marijuana in Canada are passing the opposite message.
While it seems like marijuana offers you so much at the point of usage, you can get hooked. Controlled substances (or formerly controlled as is the case of marijuana), always have a risk of leading to a use disorder. Hence, if you don’t manage your usage properly, you can have a bigger problem on your hand than the initial one that led to use.
The concept of addiction, and the question of why and how marijuana addiction happens, is complex. With the vast available information, it’s easy to get lost in the whole matrix while searching for answers.
That’s why we’re here. With our years of experience dealing with marijuana abuse cases, we can provide answers to all your questions about the addiction potential of marijuana.
Everything to Know About Marijuana
Marijuana addiction is subject to several factors like age, which we will cover in this section of the article. However, there is a need to first understand Marijuana, its use, and the said addiction.
What is Marijuana?
Since the legalization of cannabis usage in Canada, a lot has changed. As of 2019, about 5.1 million people above the age of 15 now indulge in marijuana usage. This amounts to about 16.8% of the Canadian population. This leaves one to wonder what this substance is about, and why so many people are using it.
Marijuana is otherwise known as cannabis, a reflection of the plant from which it emerges – Cannabis sativa. In more urban parlance, marijuana takes up names such as weed, herb, pot, ganja, Mary Jane, grass, and bud. The names it is known by depends on the region of use.
Marijuana has a composition made of a mixture of different flowers of the same plant. And amongst the various drug substances out there, Marijuana has the most varied means of consumption. These differences in consumption methods influence the rate with which its effects kick in. This, among other reasons, is why users may prefer one method of consumption to another.
Different forms of Consuming Marijuana
The experience from the different use methods somewhat varies. However, they all result in you being high. Whether you’re using marijuana for medical purposes or leisure, the delivery method is an important point of consideration.
This is arguably the most common method of using marijuana. These are the cigarette-like ones you see easily on the streets. For this method of consumption, the user wraps cannabis in tobacco rolling paper. You can also smoke marijuana in a pipe or a bong. (The bong is a filtration device, which makes use of water).
It’s also possible to smoke marijuana using a blunt wrap. A Blunt is a cigar in which you have emptied the tobacco content and replaced it with marijuana. In some cases, you can choose to make it a mixture of tobacco and marijuana. To smoke marijuana, you can also make use of bubblers. These devices have a similar size to pipe.
Marijuana addiction and abuse occur fast with smoking, with a risk for detrimental effects thanks to the smoke’s carcinogenic properties. Scientists continue to research the effect of smoking marijuana. However, as of now, the negative impact it has on physical health cannot be overemphasized.
This is a newer method of smoking marijuana. This process involves vaporization, as the marijuana is heated to just below combustion. This releases vapour that can then be inhaled by the user. This process is less harmful than smoking, as the vapour contains less detrimental substances to smoke.
You should, however, note that this doesn’t mean vaping is without its adverse effects. Vaping is less dangerous than smoking, not non-dangerous.
Other than the relative perceived safety of vaping, there are other reasons people use it. One of these is the claim of a better high while vaping. Vaporizers are also known to produce less marijuana smell than smoking. Also, you can easily conceal the device from sight.
These are marijuana forms you can add to your meals. The common ones are brownies, which have been around for a while now. Nowadays, you can add marijuana to different types of foods.
This is possible through the oil extract from marijuana which you can use to cook. You can also use this oil to bake, or just mix it with any other food you want.
These edibles are also made into capsules you can easily swallow. To this effect, you’ll see recreational marijuana vendors also selling marijuana-infused cookies, gummy bears, and granola bars.
This is most common with medical marijuana use. However, because of the intense high that comes with it, leisure users also abuse it. Taken in this form, marijuana is addictive, to a very high degree.
The process involves the infusion of marijuana plants with alcohol and/or water. Drops of this mix are then applied to under the tongue. This brings the marijuana near the veins and arteries. Hence, there is rapid absorption into the bloodstream.
Factors that Influence Marijuana Addiction
As you’ll recall, earlier in this blog, we established that some factors influence marijuana addiction. Marijuana is addictive but these factors play a role in how quickly addiction sets in. They also form a basis for the questions regarding marijuana dependence and addiction.
Users who start before the age of 18 have a higher tendency of falling into the addiction loop. According to research, about 1 in 6 persons (below 18 years of age) get addicted to the substance.
Adults technically have a higher resistance to marijuana addiction. The rate of addiction is lower, as it is expected only of 1 out of 10 persons.
While age may seem to give reason to the continued use of the substance in adults, it isn’t safe. These figures are also changing. This is because the quality of marijuana products available today is higher. The substances are more powerful and potent, hence, increased susceptibility to addiction.
Over the past few years, the amount of THC in marijuana has increased. This increase reveals an increased effect of marijuana on the brain. Hypotheses have it that this influence directly links to addiction and dependence.
The biological risk factors for marijuana addiction include genes, gender, and even ethnicity. Some people possess genes that leave them more predisposed to marijuana use.
Though, these genes are activated by environmental factors that will be discussed below. For someone that comes from a family of heavy marijuana users, falling into addiction is more than likely.
The environment plays a huge role in addiction. This is why one of the first steps for effective marijuana addiction treatment is a drastic change in the environment. One of the major environmental causes of marijuana addiction is family.
The type of home an individual is exposed to, especially as a child can determine if such a person ends up an addict. If a parent uses the substance, the child may indulge at an early age. This, according to the first factor stated above, is a terrible idea.
Peers at school can also be a determining factor for addiction. The curiosity and pressure that arise amidst friends can lead a teenager to want to try the first time. If such a teen now suffers from abuse, violence, or anxiety, marijuana will soon become a go-to relief. Marijuana is very much addictive in these cases.
Method of usage
There is one other method of usage that was not stated above. This is because it has the highest potential of leading to addiction. And with wrong use, it can be highly detrimental. This is the injection method of using marijuana. If you take it this way, marijuana is highly addictive. This is because it shoots straight to the brain within seconds of administration.
However, the downside of this intensity is that the feeling disappears within minutes. Hence, in the bid to experience the pleasure of injected marijuana more, subsequent use follows. This way, you can get addicted to marijuana before you know it.
Related Article: How to Talk to Your Teenage Children about Marijuana Use
How does Marijuana Addiction Occur?
We have been able to identify the conditions under which marijuana is addictive. However, this information still doesn’t do justice to why and how marijuana addiction happens. We have only been able to tell that ‘yes, marijuana is addictive if those conditions are fulfilled’
As with other substances, addiction occurs after repeated use. The only exception to this rule is opioids. In the case of marijuana, you need to have gotten to an irredeemable level of habit and dependence to be addicted.
Marijuana addiction is not common, but it can and does happen. As with other substances, the presence of marijuana in the body causes a release of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is directly involved with the feeling of pleasure. The body produces it, and the central nervous system transmits it between nerve cells during pleasurable activities.
Beyond pleasure, it also plays a role in our thinking and planning. This is why marijuana users indulge when they feel down and hope to achieve clarity of thoughts.
However, with the continued use, the body gets used to the presence of the substance to achieve such clarity. Hence, you’ll find it difficult to achieve that level of high and ecstasy when you aren’t using the substance. This explains why marijuana is addictive – the continuous quest to attain a level of high.
Marijuana Addiction in Canada
This issue is worsening in Canada by the day. Since the legalization of the substance, Canada has risen through ranks to become one of the most marijuana-addiction-ridden countries in the world.
A study revealed that 83.2% of Canadians have at one time used the substance. This reality bites harder when you realize the majority of these users are teens and young adults.
Signs of Marijuana Addiction
You should know that the first step towards recovery is to recognize the presence of the problem. Different substances have differing addiction signs. Hence, there are no general signs to look for.
Below is a list of signs that point to a marijuana addiction. Once you notice any or a combination of these, as a marijuana user, seek marijuana addiction treatment immediately.
Increased tolerance for the substance
When one is addicted to a substance, they begin to need more of the substance to achieve highness. This is called tolerance. Your body builds tolerance over time.
At this stage, you begin to use more of the substance than you plan to. You may want to smoke just one wrap, but end up with three. You also feel withdrawal symptoms like loss of appetite, insomnia, irritation, and anxiety.
You spend more time high
What you spend your time on defines you. When you are addicted to marijuana, you’ll notice that you spend a lot of time smoking or using it. You’ll never seem to get enough of it. You are always looking forward to getting high. In most cases, you won’t be able to keep calm if you can’t find marijuana.
As a result of this, you have reduced the amount of time left to spend on things that matter. You’ll notice that your schedule has suffered a huge depletion of recreation and other physical activities. Rather than hanging out with your friends and family, you’ll prefer to stay alone to get high.
Despite the negative effects, you continue to get high
This is as destructive as it sounds. When you experience this sign of marijuana addiction, things are certainly bad. In this situation, you are aware of the negative impacts of the substance, but you continue.
Not only will it cause issues for your health, but it will also open you up to problems at work. When your addiction begins, you begin to care less about other important things. These acts of self-sabotage can be detrimental.
You see marijuana as an escape from problems
Life is generally plagued with issues. When you start seeing marijuana as your escape from such problems, you have a problem. For instance, when you have a bad day at work, if you feel that the only way you can handle it is by smoking, that’s a problem right there.
Searching for creativity and relaxation in highness
As an artist, if you depend on smoking weed to be able to fall in sync with your art, you are addicted. You also look forward to indulging in the substance as it is your best way to relax.
This is detrimental and in the long run more likely to make you violent. Not only will you not be able to get the relaxation you seek, but you’ll also be unable to attend to daily activities.
Negative Effects of Marijuana Abuse and Addiction
An addiction to anything is bad. Now, an addiction to a substance with known health effects is outright terrible. Marijuana has contents like delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). These substances result in a paradigm shift over time.
During early use, THC is responsible for you getting high. CBD on the other hand plays no part in highness. But it somewhat has a role to play in ensuring the balance of substance in your brain. You should know that leaving the health and function of your brain to these constituents is unhealthy.
These substances result in short and long-term detrimental effects. These health effects may vary from person to person, and occur at varying intensity.
Short-Term Effects Marijuana addiction
Marijuana is an addictive substance that can cause massive damage even in the short term. Some of these effects include;
Impairment of coordination
When you are high on marijuana, you’ll find it hard to coordinate your body. You wouldn’t be able to concentrate. Hence, you can’t operate machines or anything that needs your focus.
For these reasons, you are warned to not get high when you need to drive. Since coordination is impaired, you are at risk of having an accident.
You can’t learn or remember stuff easily
The presence of marijuana in the brain makes it difficult to concentrate. Your thinking is also impaired. It comes with a significant fall in your decision-making ability. Overall, this will affect your performance at school or work.
Your mental health suffers
Not only will marijuana cause you to get high, but it will also leave you in the valley of panic, anxiety, and ‘almost depression’ when you can’t use the substance. In some rare cases, it can trigger psychotic episodes for you. In the worst cases, it can get to the point of paranoia.
Long-term risks of Marijuana Use and Addiction
Marijuana is addictive and destructive. Not only in the short-term, but marijuana can also cause irreparable damage. Long-term in this case refers to several months and years. Examples of the long-term effects of marijuana addiction are:
Damage to the lung
Like cigarettes, marijuana dependence and addiction can cause damage to the lungs. The smoke from cannabis affects your lungs.
Terrible mental health
Let’s paint a picture for you. The consistent use of cannabis will lead to use disorder. This brings about withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop. Then, you continue with the use, and every other thing in life seems to be crashing.
Work, relationships, friends, family, and even finances start to drop. You continue using the substance at the expense of your family, friends, and money.
This collapse of your other worlds gets you anxious or depressed. Then to get away from this state, you use marijuana again. As such, the cycle continues.
There are many more issues that can arise from the use of cannabis. Each person experiences a different reality from another person. In summary, it’s impossible to provide answers to how marijuana addiction happens without stating the negative impacts. It’s all part of the reality of how marijuana addiction plays out.
Marijuana addiction is real, though it occurs less frequently than addiction from substances like tobacco, opioids, and alcohol. Marijuana addiction may take time to surface, but when it does, it technically takes over.
Before getting to this stage, if you use the substance, it’s best to evaluate yourself and seek help if necessary.
Related Article: Top Reasons Young People Use Marijuana
Marijuana is addictive. The addiction does not occur as fast as some other substance. But when it does, it will cause serious damage. Hence, if you use the substance, don’t stop at knowing the signs of marijuana addiction. Get help.
The continuous use of marijuana, and other related substances, takes more away than it offers. Since being on this page, it means you have the will to know about yourself. This is a bold step.
But you should take the next step of checking out marijuana addiction treatment services near you. Speak to a specialist about how you can reclaim your normal life without the substance.
Don’t leave marijuana use to chance or self-control. Addiction can creep in when you least suspect. We at 1000 Islands Rehab Centre can help you cross this bridge. Contact us to speak to an expert today!