Is Marijuana Addictive?

Is Marijuana Addictive?

marijuanaMarijuana is a drug made from the dried flowers, leaves and stems of the Cannabis sativa plant. The main active ingredient in marijuana is THC, a fat-soluble substance that remains in the lungs and in brain tissue for as long as three weeks. In recent decades the potency in terms of THC content has increased dramatically in marijuana.

There are hundreds of slang words for marijuana, but the most common are pot, grass, mary jane, chronic, herb, weed, loco weed, and ganja. Marijuana can be smoked by rolling in cigarette papers, smoked in a pipe or water bong, or eaten by being baked into such items as brownies and cookies.

Recent research indicates that regular marijuana use undermines your ability to learn and to remember information. When people are “stoned” they are less able to focus, sustain, and shift attention, which are essential components of learning and storing information. One study found that long-term marijuana use reduced the ability to organize and integrate complex information.

Heavy marijuana smokers tend to show short-term memory impairment as well as decreased motivation. One study showed that even small doses of marijuana impaired users ability to recall a list of words a mere 20 minutes later.

In men, long-term marijuana use can result in impotence issues and reduced fertility.

The most persistent myth about marijuana is that it is not addictive. Although it might not be as quickly addicting as alcohol or cocaine, animal and human studies show physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms from marijuana, including irritability, restlessness, insomnia, nausea and intense dreams. Tolerance to marijuana also builds up quickly. Heavy marijuana users need much higher doses of the drug to get the same effects as those who smoke only occasionally.

For some, marijuana can be highly addictive. Researchers estimate that approximately 10-14% of marijuana users develop serious dependency. Every year over 100,000 people in the United States seek treatment for their marijuana addiction. Because of long-standing cultural beliefs about the “harmlessness” of marijuana, many people with marijuana addiction do not recognize the impairment caused by the drug and delay or never seek treatment.

Treatment for Marijuana Addiction

Support groups and cognitive-behavioral therapy are effective in helping people who are struggling with marijuana dependency. One of the issues with addiction to marijuana is that many people who smoke tend to hang out with others who smoke, it being a “social” drug like alcohol. This can make it difficult for the user to abstain for any length of time unless they make a decision not to spend time with those still using the drug.

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