When Does Marijuana Experimentation Become Addiction?

When Does Marijuana Experimentation Become Addiction?

Marijuana use is increasingly promoted as benign, but marijuana is an addictive drug and experimentation can lead to dependence and addiction. Over 18.1 million Americans use marijuana each month according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDP). Of these individuals, five million use marijuana on a daily or almost daily basis and at least two million use for the first time. While some individuals can use once or even regularly without developing addiction concerns, others find themselves unable to stop using marijuana despite experiencing negative consequences. Understand your personal risk of addiction and the symptoms of marijuana dependence to avoid addiction or to get help at the first signs of trouble.

Age of Experimentation and Marijuana Addiction

The ONDP reports that the average age of first use of marijuana is 17. This statistic is important, as the ONDP shares, “age at first use of marijuana was associated with illicit drug dependence or abuse. Among those who first tried marijuana at age 14 or younger, nearly 13 percent were classified with illicit drug dependence or abuse, higher than the 2 percent of adults who had first used marijuana at age 18 or older.” Experimenting with marijuana at an older age does not prevent you from becoming addicted, but using in your early teens puts you at increased risk for marijuana and other drug addiction. Marijuana use is increasing in prevalence among teens and young adults as the perception of the dangers of marijuana declines, making it likely that addiction rates will similarly rise.

Race and Marijuana Experimentation

Many factors play into personal decisions to experiment with marijuana such as peer pressure and home environment, but some trends hold true across broader groups of users. The ONDP shares that, “among 5th graders, white students reported higher rates of initiation of alcohol and tobacco than black or Asian students. White and Asian-American females were less likely than their male counterparts to have engaged in substance use; however, black females were more likely than black males to have used tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana.” Race, age and gender all influence marijuana use. Understanding the factors that play into early decisions to use marijuana increases our ability to identify at-risk youth and create targeted anti-addiction programs.

Ending Drug Experimentation and Addiction

Marijuana experimentation can lead to marijuana or other drug addiction. If you are ready to put an end to your or a loved one’s substance use, call our toll-free helpline today. We are here 24 hours a day to connect you to the resources you need for addiction treatment, family mediation and long-term recovery.