Is It Possible To Become Addicted To Cannabis
We have all heard the scare stories ‘responsible’ adults tell the youth of today about the dangers of cannabis addiction but can you even become addicted to cannabis? First of all we need to look at the definition of the word ‘addiction’. Addiction is a brain disease that is characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli, despite adverse consequences such as the loss of a job or the break down of a relationship. It is classed as a brain disease because drugs have the ability to alter the brain; they alter its structure and how it functions. These brain changes can be long lasting and can lead to many harmful, often self-destructive, behaviors.
Figures state that around 9% of adult cannabis users may become ‘addicted’ to the drug, these numbers are heavily skewed by the fact that a huge percentage of the people who are classed as addicts have been forced into recovery programs in order to avoid jail time. The number is even higher for teens with 17% being classed as ‘addicted’ in the eyes of the law, this is because there is no warning system for minors and they will be prosecuted for drug possession or at be least forced into rehab. I highly doubt that these figures are truly representative of the amount of people addicted to cannabis when you take into account the above definition of the word ‘addiction’
Cannabis differs from other drugs because the withdrawal symptoms tend to be more subtle. When compared to drugs such as nicotine, cocaine and alcohol, cannabis is by far the least addictive of all these drugs. According to a heavily-cited study by NIDA researchers, tobacco is the most addictive substance with 31.9% of all users become addicted. Heroin has the second highest addiction rate (23.1%), followed by cocaine (16.7%) and alcohol (15.4%).
This indicates that the vast majority of cannabis users are not compulsively driven to consume cannabis, even if they stop consuming cannabis they will not feel any major side effects. The worst of those would be struggling to sleep at night and vivid dreams. However a lot of these users have been using cannabis long term to treat various ailments, even though they could quit it would not be good for their health and could result in their original condition worsening.
This shows that it is possible that habitual users have a slight mental addiction to cannabis but there is few to no people with severe physical addictions. To quote Richard Neville “Is marijuana addictive? Yes, in the sense that most of the really pleasant things in life are worth endlessly repeating.”