As it continually gains popularity in the United States, medical marijuana is on the path towards nationwide legality. Even outside of the U.S, marijuana laws continue to reach milestones in different countries across the world. There’s no denying that this type of medicinal use can be very beneficial for people with certain illnesses, such as epilepsy. However, the increased popularity of both medical and recreational use of marijuana has some citizens concerned about its safety. Most of all, there’s an ongoing debate about whether marijuana can possess addictive properties that develops a chronic dependence on using the drug (or plant). This article will explore this idea and review both what medical marijuana consists of, as well as the question: Is medical marijuana addictive?
Medical Marijuana vs. Recreational Use
As the name indicates, medical marijuana can be defined as the use of the cannabis drug as a means of prescribed medical treatment for an illness. As opposed to medical marijuana, recreational use of cannabis is done for purposes other than any medically justified reason. Some common uses of medical marijuana are for treating illnesses such as epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, PTSD and more.
One of the principal differences between these two types of marijuana use is the amount of THC and CBD they possess. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis that provokes a “high”. A lot of common types of cannabis now have a low amount of THC and a higher amount of CBD. CBD is considered the main ingredient that introduces a health benefit to marijuana use due to its numerous illness-fighting properties.
Because of the benefits of medical marijuana, it has been and continues to be legalized in several different places across the United States and the world. What counts as legalized medical marijuana will vary depending on the laws of the region it’s prescribed and consumed in. However, in general, a legally approved medicinal use of marijuana will have a higher CBD to THC ratio. Additionally, it will only be used to treat illnesses that are part of a statewide approved list.
Is Marijuana an Addictive Drug?
For both of its uses, there’s an ongoing debate amongst the average population about whether or not marijuana can be considered safe for everyone. On one hand, experts agree that cannabis is generally not physically addictive. This means it doesn’t have medically verified properties that can establish a physical dependence in the average body, unlike other drugs such as opioids.
However, just because marijuana isn’t known to be addictive in a physical sense, that doesn’t mean you can’t become addicted to it at all.
Psychological Addiction vs. Physical Addiction
Psychologically speaking, it’s important to understand that human beings can become addicted to anything. That includes any type of drug, as well as seemingly more mundane activities such as being on the computer. Even if your body isn’t physically addicted to a substance, the human brain can often become dangerously used to a habit or a substance, such as smoking marijuana.
Problematic and consistent use of marijuana can lead to psychological dependence, which can then develop into an addiction. This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as a Marijuana Use Disorder. It can cause a person to experience withdrawal symptoms whenever they’re not consuming marijuana. Studies conducted by psychiatry clinics have estimated that around 30% of cannabis users may suffer from marijuana use disorder or a select portion of its side effects.
Withdrawal & Addiction Symptoms of Marijuana
Because addiction and withdrawal of marijuana consumption is usually psychological, this reflects in the side effects and symptoms that occur when someone abstains from the drug. In the first week or two after quitting, you may experience:
- negative mood swings
- lack of appetite
- bouts of insomnia
However, those with marijuana use disorder or dependence can also experience physical side effects due to chronic marijuana use. This can result in several kinds of general bodily discomfort, but will often include nausea and issues with vomiting.
Most recently, health professionals have been seeing a rise in Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome amongst chronic marijuana users. People who suffer from this syndrome will experience periods of severe vomiting with no other linked cause. Vomiting sessions can last for hours or even for days at a time. The connection between this syndrome and chronic use of marijuana has become increasingly common and frequent in recent years. This is especially true in relation to the high-THC cultivated strains of cannabis– which, when consumed, produces unnaturally high levels of THC in the brain.
Treatment for Medical Marijuana Addiction
Despite the initial benefits that may come with using cannabis as medicinal relief, it can develop into a serious habit of psychological dependence for some people. According to a national survey conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly 4 million people showed symptoms of being addicted to marijuana in 2016.
For individuals who suffer from their continued use of marijuana, and are unable to successfully stop consuming, many choose to seek help through rehab. Rehab is the number one most successful option for people who are suffering from substance abuse to start their path towards recovery.
There are hundreds of rehab facilities across the country that offer specialized treatment for marijuana abuse, including support groups, inpatient and outpatient programs. If you’re someone suffering from the symptoms of marijuana addiction, it’s crucial for you to know that help is available, no matter where you are located.
If you need help recovering from drug abuse call us today at Opus Health.