Marijuana is a psychoactive drug that comes from the leaves and flowers of the Cannabis Sativa plant. The chemical responsible for its psychoactive effects is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. The plant also contains over 500 other chemicals, 100 of which are related to THC.
This drug goes by a number of street names including pot, weed, herb, grass, and bud. It is typically smoked, but it can also be consumed in edibles, such as cookies and other baked goods.
Marijuana dependence is a physical addiction to marijuana. Although this drug is largely believed to be non-addictive, around nine percent of people who try it develop an addiction to it.
However, according to the National Institutes of Health, while marijuana dependence is similar to other substance addictions, it occurs less easily, and it's less severe. That said, marijuana dependence is twice as common as addictions to other psychoactive drugs, and that's due to the very high number of people who use it. Of the estimated 6.9 million Americans who are dependent on or abusing drugs, 4.2 million are dependent on or abuse marijuana.
Cannabis is the world's most produced and consumed drug, according to a United Nations report. It's also the most common illicit drug in the United States. Several factors account for the high number of users:
Because addiction to cannabis doesn't lead to the excruciating withdrawal symptoms that other drugs produce when the drug is withheld from the body, those who abuse it daily may be addicted to it without realizing it. Additionally, THC is fat soluble and therefore will remain in the body for around three weeks, which means that withdrawal symptoms may not set in right away, and because they're typically very mild, they may be attributed to other factors.
Cross-addiction occurs when someone with a substance dependence beats the addiction but then becomes addicted to another substance. Marijuana is a common cross addiction for those recovering from dependence on far more dangerous and addictive substances, such as alcohol, heroin, or prescription drugs, mostly because it is considered to be less dangerous and addictive than other drugs.
Some of the signs and symptoms that you or someone you love may be addicted to cannabis include:
Although many people consider marijuana to be a safe drug, it does carry a number of mental and physical health risks. These include:
The first phase of addiction treatment for marijuana is medical detox, during which the drug is withheld from the body to break the physical addiction. Medical detox is supervised by a physician, who may prescribe medications as needed to alleviate uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
The second phase of treatment is therapy, which addresses the psychological aspects of the addiction, which are highly complex and vary greatly among individuals. Common treatment therapies used to treat marijuana addiction include cognitive-behavioral therapy, motivational enhancement therapy, and family therapy, particularly in cases where the person with the addiction is a juvenile.
The last phase of treatment is an aftercare plan, which is individualized to help those in recovery maintain abstinence from marijuana use. The aftercare plan usually includes ongoing therapy and participation in a community recovery program. If you or someone you care about is abusing or is addicted to cannabis, get help.