Is Medical Marijuana Addictive?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana can be addictive. Marijuana is considered a “gateway drug” – in other words, marijuana is a drug that may lead to the use of other addictive drugs. Various factors influence an individual’s dependence on the drug, such as frequent usage and higher THC content. Currently, researchers do not understand the full extent of the consequences when the brain, especially the developing brain, is exposed to high concentrations of THC.
Withdrawal symptoms are associated with dependence and include restlessness, forms of physical discomfort, irritability, and mood changes. Dependence is the result of the brain adapting to large amounts of the drug through reduced sensitivity to its endocannabinoid system. It is important to note that dependence is not a proxy for addiction, although it is possible to be dependent without being addicted.
Marijuana use disorder can become an addiction if the individual is unable to stop consuming the drug even though it interferes with many aspects of life. Additional symptoms of addiction include trouble sleeping, withdrawals, and requiring more to achieve the same effects, consuming more marijuana than intended, and the inability to limit your use of the drug.
A recent study suggested that 30% of marijuana consumers have some degree of marijuana use disorder. Researchers have revealed factors that may increase the likelihood of an individual developing a marijuana use disorder. Data suggest that individuals who consume marijuana before the age of 18 are four to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder.
In another study examining marijuana use disorder, 9% of participants consuming marijuana became dependent on the drug, and 17% for those who began consuming marijuana before the age of 18. This study raises a need for further investigation into the impact of higher THC concentrations on the developing brain, especially when it is frequent.
Studies of identical twins raised separately show that genes are a strong predictor of developing a marijuana addiction. Case studies have shown that if one identical twin develops a marijuana addiction, the other twin has a higher risk for developing one. Such studies have investigated a comparison between identical and fraternal twins to support this theory.
It is essential to seek treatment if you believe you may be addicted to marijuana. There are many resources available to help and assist you in overcoming your addiction. You are not alone. In 2015. Researchers predicted approximately 4 million people in the United States exhibited some degree of marijuana use disorder. Of those 4 million people, only 138,000 voluntarily pursued treatment.
Although marijuana is considered an addictive drug, if used correctly, it can treat numerous conditions, including eating disorders, muscle spasms, and Crohn’s disease. It is essential to consult a physician when seeking cannabis to treat a medical condition, or if you are currently taking any medications.
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