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Yes, marijuana could be addictive but it isn’t like other addictive drugs. Here’s why

Nicotine is notoriously addictive, to the extent that the global market for nicotine cessation in 2021 wasvalued at around $23 billion. Alcoholism is indeed insidious that those who find themselves severe alcoholics candie should they go cold turkey.

Yet marijuana the most famous psychotropic drug after alcohol doesn’t have exactly the same stigma surrounding addiction. In stoner culture, the theory that marijuana is addictive just as as other famously addictive drugs is played for laughs, as seen in the 1998 stoner comedy “Half-Baked.”

Yet being an increasing amount of jurisdictions legalize marijuana for recreational use,some psychologists and centers have begun to question the traditional wisdom surrounding marijuana’s purported non-addictive status.The question resurfaced in July whenever anew study was publishedin Lancet Psychiatry suggesting that it’s, and that observation of cannabis addiction could be linked to an elevated potency in marijuana worldwide.

Unlike alcohol and nicotine, additionally, there are medical uses for marijuana pain management, help owning a sleep disorder, anxiety, or lessening the tremors in Parkinson’s disease, merely to name several. Indeed, that is section of the driver behind legalizing recreational weed, which 19 states have previously done. Then you can find the economic benefits;one study predictedthat cannabis legalization you could end up $128.8 billion in tax revenue, and around 1.6 million new jobs.The shifting political narrative has made marijuana a friendlier, more accessible drug, as well as perhaps contributed to notions of it as fairly benign. And also if it’s addictive, it clearly isn’t addictive just as as, say, cocaine or opioids, which are so addictive concerning compel those within their thrall to steal, lie, or behave violentlyto obtain these substances.

In neuro-scientific mental health insurance and addiction, Norton said that this is a “very settled question” that marijuana is addictive.

In these Lancet study, the study’s authors found a link between potency and dependency. Specifically, they remember that individuals who use higher concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana will be dependent on marijuana and also have mental health issues. That study drew eyebrow-raising headlines;CNN asked if“Highly potent weed” was “creating marijuana addicts worldwide.”

Still, a lot of the controversy for this question is based on defining what one means by “addiction.”

“The term addiction means a wide variety of things to a lot of people, and that means it is sort of a challenging question for the reason that sense,” Dr. Aaron Norton, a mental health counselor who focuses on addiction, told Salon. “But what I could let you know is that should you look at really any authority in the field be it the American Psychiatric Association, the planet Health Organization, the DRUG ABUSE Mental Health Services Administration, beneath the US Department of Health insurance and Human Services, and also the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) all agree that marijuana is addictive specifically, THC.”

In neuro-scientific mental health insurance and addiction, Norton said that this is a “very settled question” that marijuana is addictive.

“I believe probably section of the confusion is that folks, if they think about addiction, they sometimes think about more serious addiction presentations like what we may see in lots of people with opioid use disorder or with alcohol use disorder,” Norton said. “They consider cannabis, so when they take into account the difference with regards to the effect on society and on people plus they think, ‘well, it isn’t as bad as those other activities.'”

Dr. Adrianne Trogden, an authorized addiction counselor, agreed, but further clarified the complexity of the term “addiction.”

In the U.S., around three in 10 individuals who use marijuana have cannabis use disorder, the CDC estimates.

“As the word ‘addiction’ can be used a lot, that isn’t actually a clinical diagnosable term so in the medical world, we wouldn’t diagnose somebody having an addiction, we’d diagnose with a substance use disorder,” Trogden said. Trogden said that within their clinical practice and locally, there exists a “continuum of substance use.”

“So there’s some people that have sort of experimented using one end of this continuum, and perhaps used recreationally every once in awhile, completely up to individuals who use at all times, each day, can’t complete each day without it,” she explained.

Indeed, therapists like Norton and Trogden often utilize the diagnosis of cannabis use disorder (CUD) whenever a client is fighting cannabis used in a way that it’s interfering making use of their relationships and everyday activity. In the U.S., around three in 10 individuals who use marijuana have CUD, the CDC estimates.

Based on the National Institute on SUBSTANCE ABUSE (NIDA), 9 percent of individuals who “abuse” marijuana will “develop an dependence on the drug with time.” For those who begin using marijuana throughout their teen years, that risk increases to 17 percent. Onestudy found that CUD diagnoses have increased from 2.18% to 2.72%, in teenagers who reside in states where recreational cannabis is legal.

“I view it on a regular basis in my own clinical practice, and I’ve clients who understand that they’re dependent on cannabis,” Norton said. “So that they come voluntarily to obtain help, because they’re struggling to avoid.”

Dr. Carla Marie Manly, a clinical psychologist in California and writer of “Joy From Fear,” sees it too.

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“On a clinical level, I could certainly affirm that those that seek treatment for cannabis addiction often think it is extremely difficult to remove the habit,” Manly told Salon via email. “Much like other self-soothing addictions (e.g., alcohol consumption, smoking, etc.), lots of people think it is tremendously challenging to ‘kick the marijuana habit.'”

Biochemically speaking, THC isn’t comparable to opiates, opioids, cocaine, or other notoriously addictive drugs. Just what exactly precisely helps it be “addictive”?

Essentially, THC triggers chemical reactions in the mind that are connected with relaxation, euphoria and bliss. The more the mind is subjected to the THC insurance firms receptors in the mind shut down, it’ll figure out how to only function at an optimal level if it is exposure to THC. This may result in feelings of restlessness and irritability whenever a patient isn’t using marijuana.

Dr. Michael Kuhar further told Salon that THC attaches to endocannabinoid receptors in the mind, causing a physiological “high.”

“Nearly every addicting substance includes a molecular site in the mind where it binds and causes some action,” Kuhar said. “And the reason why there is a molecular site in the mind is because there’s an endogenous brain system that’s like marijuana it isn’t really marijuana, but THC can hook into that [endocannabinoid receptor] system.”

THC, Kuhar explained, can be “self-administered,” which further strengthens the case that marijuana is addictive. Whenever a substance is self-administering, an animal in a laboratory is proven to voluntarily choose more of the substance rather than the placebo, that is usually saline.

“The pet presses the lever which has THC, he doesn’t understand that he’s getting an injection, but he’s got a sensation and when he likes the feeling, he’ll press that lever over and over and again, which is what we call THC self-administration,” Kuhar said. “So that is the paradigm of drug self-administering, discovered in the late ’70s, in fact it is now the gold standard for showing that something is addicting.”

Research also supports the discovering that ceasing usage of cannabis can lead to what’s defined in the DSM-5 ( (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition) cannabis withdrawal syndrome.

Norton said treatment looks different for every client, based on many factors such as for example should they see their use is really a problem, and how it’s impacting their life. Notably, there’s Marijuana Anonymous, that is a 12-step program to greatly help people maintain abstinence from marijuana.

As marijuana is still legalized in more states, mental health clinicians say more discussions round the possible undesireable effects have to happen.

“So despite the fact that I see the right in medical cannabis, and I support it being legalized, like a lot of things in life, you can find awful drawbacks,” Norton said.

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