Cannabis has been legal in California for some time, causing many to normalize its use. While it may not be dangerous enough for a federal Schedule 1 label, a term used for drugs with no medically accepted use that are highly addictive, that doesn’t make it completely safe. People might hesitate to admit that cannabis can be addictive because of the many myths about this substance. This article tackles the facts and myths of cannabis addiction, how it differs from other drugs, and why people should choose to abstain from it.
What Is Cannabis?
For those who don’t know, cannabis comes from the plants cannabis sativa and cannabis indica. The plants contain a mind-altering chemical called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which causes the high people get from smoking the dried leaves and flowers. While cannabis is federally a Schedule 1 drug, it is legal at the state level in 38 states, including California. Cannabis is the most commonly used, federally illegal drug in the United States. It is estimated that in 2019, at least 48.2 million people, or 18% of Americans, have used it at least once.
Cannabis Use and Addiction
There are plenty of myths that circulate about cannabis created by marijuana enthusiasts and anti-drug activists alike. It can be hard to keep the facts straight. One camp wants to believe that cannabis is completely healthy, while the other wants to paint it in a dark light. The truth is that cannabis, like any other substance that releases dopamine in the brain, can be addictive for people who smoke it regularly. According to research, 1 in 10 adults can become addicted, and those chances increase to 1 in 6 for those who consumed cannabis before the age of 18.
Symptoms Of Cannabis Addiction
Cannabis addiction, also called marijuana use disorder, follows the same symptoms of addiction as most substance use disorders (SUDs). If your substance use negatively impacts your life, or if it’s become difficult to stop using, it’s likely that you’ve developed an addiction. Your chances of addiction and dependency are higher if you started smoking as an adolescent or young adult. The length of time spent smoking can also increase the severity of symptoms. These symptoms include:
- Using more cannabis than intended or for longer than intended
- Difficulty quitting or repeated failed attempts at quitting
- Spending a lot of time using cannabis, recovering from using cannabis, or procuring cannabis
- Craving cannabis
- Continuing use of cannabis despite its effect on home, work, or school obligations
- Continuing cannabis use despite its effect on interpersonal relationships
- Giving up activities that were once important in favor of cannabis use
- Using cannabis in high-risk situations such as driving or operating machinery
- Continuing use despite negative psychological or physiological effects
- Needing to use more cannabis in order to feel the same effect
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms after cessation of cannabis use
Cannabis Withdrawal Symptoms
Quitting an addictive substance often leads to some form of withdrawal, and that can include cannabis. Withdrawal happens because your body is adjusting to living without those substances. Symptoms of withdrawal from cannabis include:
- Decreased appetite
- Digestion problems
Can You Overdose on Cannabis?
Technically, you can’t overdose from cannabis. Drug overdoses happen when a person takes too much of a substance, leading to life-threatening symptoms or death. There hasn’t been a death directly associated with cannabis consumption; however, over-consuming cannabis can have uncomfortable side effects such as anxiety, paranoia, nausea vomiting, and psychotic reactions. Emergency room visits because of cannabis use have been reportedly caused by overconsuming edibles because it can be harder to properly measure the dosage.
Other Risks of Cannabis Use
The short-term physical risks of consuming cannabis include increased heart rate, higher blood pressure, and breathing problems. Short-term mental health risks include anxiety, paranoia, and in some cases psychosis if a person takes too high of a dosage. In the long term, cannabis can worsen symptoms of anxiety, depression, and psychotic illnesses. Those who regularly use cannabis might also have cognitive problems, such as difficulty focusing, poor memory, and difficulty learning. Cognitive issues are more severe in people who use cannabis while they are still developing.
Those who smoke in high school or college might have issues developmentally, especially with memory and learning. There is still research that needs to be done on the long-term mental and physical health effects, especially on cannabis with high potency. THC content in cannabis is much higher now than 20 years ago. The legality of cannabis has made it harder to do that research, but as the legality of cannabis changes, more and more research is being done.
As cannabis becomes legal across the U.S., it’s important to dispel the many myths that surround this substance. While it doesn’t deserve a Schedule 1 label, that doesn’t mean that the drug is completely safe. There’s still a lot more research that needs to be done, especially now that cannabis products contain more THC than ever before. Any substance or activity that releases dopamine has the potential to cause addiction, and any substance that involves smoking a burning product can damage the lungs. Cannabis is no exception. You might be reluctant to admit that you have a cannabis addiction, especially if you live in a state where it’s legal and cannabis culture is deeply ingrained. If your use is negatively affecting your quality of life, then you should get help and get sober. There is help available. To get the facts about cannabis, call Bella Monte today at (800) 974-1938.