Marijuana and Addiction

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Marijuana addiction is absolutely pernicious; it’s subtle, deceptive and often hidden, even to the user, while its effects pervade every corner of the user’s life

In recent years, marijuana has made headlines as state after state has passed laws either legalizing it completely or allowing its legal use in specific situations. Currently, 26 states and the District of Columbia have laws that permit marijuana use in some form, and three additional states have passed legalization laws but have yet to make them effective. With half of the country legalizing marijuana at various levels, it’s important to be aware of the potential dangers associated with the drug.  

Proponents of the legalization of marijuana point to its alleged health benefits. However, some research shows that marijuana can be habit-forming.

What Studies Say about Marijuana Addiction

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 30 percent of people who use marijuana have some degree of “marijuana use disorder.” This disorder is associated with a dependence on marijuana, which means users experience withdrawal when they stop consuming it. Symptoms of marijuana withdrawal can include irritability, insomnia, decreased appetite, restlessness, cravings, and physical discomfort. In some people, withdrawal can persist for up to two weeks.

The reason marijuana use disorder develops is that the chemicals in marijuana cause the brain to adapt to the drug, dulling the brain’s endocannabinoid neurotransmitters. Although estimates vary, researchers believe that about 9 percent of people who consume marijuana will develop dependency at some point. Among those who start using it in their teens, this number goes up to 17 percent. In 2015 alone, about 4 million

Americans had marijuana use disorder, with 138,000 seeking professional treatment for their addiction.

Marijuana Is Becoming More Potent

Additionally, as marijuana becomes more accessible, it has gotten stronger. As the NIDA reports, marijuana in the early 1990s contained about 3.7 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical in marijuana that causes users to feel high. By 2014, THC levels had risen to 6.1 percent. The NIDA also points out that new forms of marijuana use, such as smoking or eating THC-rich hash oil extracted from the marijuana plant, can result in users consuming extremely high levels of THC. “The average marijuana extract contains more than 50 percent THC, with some samples exceeding 80 percent.”

As psychologist Lynn E. O’Connor, Ph.D. writes at Psychology Today, many people dismiss marijuana as harmful because they view it as benign. O’Connor says this is a myth. “Marijuana addiction is absolutely pernicious; it’s subtle, deceptive and often hidden, even to the user, while its effects pervade every corner of the user’s life.” She adds that some marijuana users may be able to hold down a job and function in daily life, they could accomplish much more if they kicked their habit through long-term recovery.    

Contact Serenity at Summit Today

Serenity addresses Marijuana addiction within both inpatient and outpatient programs tailored to help people.We’d love to talk to you about how you can achieve a lasting recovery. Our drug treatment programs are personalized and medically supervised. Call our behavioral health professionals today to speak to a substance abuse expert about the treatment options we offer.

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Union, NJ 07083

Phone: (908) 481-4400

Summit Behavioral Health – Serenity At Summit

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Haverhill, MA 01830

Phone: (978) 641-3001





Staff Writer

Serenity at Summit employs a diverse staff of writers that share a common passion for helping those who are struggling with substance abuse find the care they need. With years of experience in the substance abuse treatment industry and decades of experience in writing and research, our team of writers constantly strive to present accurate and helpful information that is easily digestible and encourages people to seek help.