What Makes Marijuana So Addictive?

What Makes Marijuana So Addictive?

Often considered a “soft” drug, marijuana does not produce a strong physical dependency and does not induce severe withdrawal symptoms when use is stopped. Nonetheless, marijuana can produce a strong psychological addiction in some users.

Psychological Marijuana Addiction

The active ingredient in marijuana is THC, which stimulates the brain to produce large quantities of dopamine, one of the neurotransmitters in the brain responsible for mood and feelings of euphoria. This excess of dopamine is what causes the euphoric high of marijuana use. The produce a feeling of pleasant calm, and many people seek it out once they have experienced it.

With chronic use, however, the brain reduces the amount of dopamine produced on its own, and depends on marijuana to produce enough dopamine to feel good. Combined with the tolerance that develops with chronic marijuana use, addicts now use the drug not so much to get high, but to avoid feeling low. Even though the withdrawal symptoms associated with marijuana addiction are very mild compared to other addictive substances, they can nonetheless be unpleasant enough to send users back to the drug for relief. Discontinuing use can cause depression and strong cravings for the drug. At this point one thing is certain: users feel good when they smoke it, and they feel bad when they don’t.

Situational Abuse of Marijuana

A large percentage of the population has engaged in marijuana use at some point. Marijuana use is very common among young people, is very prevalent in the schools, and it is nearly impossible for an American to grow up without being exposed to marijuana. Young people like to experiment, party and to feel like they are rebelling. Marijuana use satisfies all of these desires. It can be very easy for a young person to get in the habit of using marijuana to have fun. Eventually they may forget how to have fun without it.

Signs of Marijuana Addiction

If you are a habitual marijuana user and think you are in no danger of becoming addicted, you are deceiving yourself. You may already be addicted and don’t realize it. Signs of marijuana addiction include the following:

  • Preoccupation with marijuana and thinking constantly about acquiring and using the drug, planning your life around drug use
  • Becoming depressed when you don’t smoke marijuana
  • Spending large amounts of money on marijuana
  • Continuing to use despite negative consequences such as job loss, financial hardship or legal problems
  • Failed attempts to quit

Help Finding Treatment for Marijuana Addiction

If you would like to stop using marijuana we can help. Our staff of trained professionals can answer any questions you have and help find the best treatment options available. Our helpline is toll free and we are available 24 hours a day. Call us.