Is marijuana addictive?
In order to answer this question, we first need a definition of the
word, "Addicted". Not too long ago, an addictive substance was
something that, when taken long enough, produced gross
physiological changes in the way the body worked, so that normal
operation of the body was impossible without that substance being
ingested. And as the substance must, by definition, form a
tolerance, higher and higher dosages (up to a point) were needed.
This is the definition of "addictive" I'm going to use for this
explanation. Addictive is not the same as "habituating".
Habituatingsubstances, using this definition, are things you crave,
may even come to need, but do not create a gross physiological
change in the way your body works (trace neurological and
neuro-chemical changes can and do happen but, they're quite minor,
and they aren't always substance-related: stroking a pet for
instance, can cause such trace effects).
In the cases of alcohol and barbiturates, the addiction, in the
sense I describe, is very strong. Stopping these drugs suddenly for
extreme addictions usually will require hospitalization, additional
medication to treat symptoms of withdrawal and, especially, in the
case of barbiturates, may result in death. Lesser addictions like
heroin or opiates can also cause withdrawal syndromes, although not
as strongly as ethanol or barbiturates, and opiate withdrawal is
not fatal (barring the existence of other factors).
The active ingredient in Cannabis Sativa is THC
(Delta-1-Tetrahydrocannibinol). THC is active in very low dosages.
Therapeutic THC is typically delivered 5mg T.I.D. (three times a
day). As addiction in the sense I mean it is a gross process, tiny
dosages typically don't generate the large-scale physiological
changes a true addiction needs to get revved up (neurological yes;
physio no). So most people, scientists and street-users, think of
marijuana as non-addictive. A recent study at Columbia University
offers potentially contradictory evidence, but it's still only one
study and not accepted as universal fact at this time. As such, if
you say THC is not clinically addictive, most of the world will
agree with you.
Can marijuana be habituating? Absolutely -- but not universally.
Just as some people definitely use Marijuana in a manner that can
only be described as a habit, some have used marijuana for years
but not in a habitual pattern. While the same can be said for
alcohol, it seems that alcoholics really do set up a regular
pattern of extensive use that I personally don't see nearly as
frequently in marijuana users.
In cases of marijuana habituation, I think the causal factors are
obscure. With addictive drugs, we can see clear, obvious,
repeatable effects in terms of addiction. With marijuana, we see
far less predictable results. And why these results are not as
predictable is not clear.
The basic fact is that most marijuana uses (maybe all marijuana
users) do not display signs of addiction (as defined above).
Many note anecdotal evidence gathered by their own personal use.
While this doesn't carry the weight of clinical trials, it also
cannot be discounted. Many users reporting here mention what --
based on my definitions above -- would be described as habituation,
both mild or strong. Many indicate it's a part of their daily life.
None list physiological symptoms caused by withdrawal.
Some mention that people enter rehabilitation, calming marijuana
addiction. I would counter by saying that rehabilitation is a cure
for a myriad of problems; not just pure addictions, and typically
refers to holistic lifestyle change as the solution; not simply
breaking the addiction/habituation. So entering rehab in order to
address life problems related to marijuana usage is not proof that
marijuana is addictive.
Some indicate that they feel THC is addictive when used by those
with an "addictive personality". I would counter by saying that,
without symptoms of withdrawal syndrome, genetic predisposition for
addiction (which is most often used in a context describing a
behavioral symptom set rather than a physiological one), does not
come into play. No physiological withdrawal symptoms; no
Some indicate correctly that Cannaibis does not contain nicotine
(true), which therefore means it's non-addictive. This syllogism is
untrue in that the lack of nicotine only means there's no nicotine
addiction in play. This contributor closes by saying THC is
non-addictive, which seems to be the general feeling in the
scientific community at this time.
It's not physically addicitive in the same way that nicotine is but
is psychologically addictive. Modern Marijuana - aka skunk contains
much higher levels of Tetra Hydro Cannabinol than the stuff that
was around in the 60s/70s.
Anyone smoking this stuff should be very careful.