In recent years, society is starting to accept that drug addiction is a disease. Even the most conservative drug facts sources now accept this. Addiction to various substances can’t be put down to factors like mental illness or defects of character. Most drug rehabilitation programs are aimed at treating the symptoms of the addiction disease, not blaming the person affected.
What is not so clear is whether cannabis addiction is real. A large number of people use cannabis for a variety of reasons, for many years, and experience no side effects or addiction problems. This has led to the growing public perception that addiction to cannabis, a.k.a. marijuana, does not exist.
So is cannabis addiction really a problem for users of the substance? Let’s explore its potential to be addictive.
First of all – rest assured that death from cannabis overdose doesn't happen! There have been no substantiated deaths from taking too much “weed”, hashish or any other form of cannabis. It’s been estimated that to die from a cannabis overdose, you would have to smoke 19 pounds of cannabis in 15 minutes. Unless you are some kind of crazy superhero, this is impossible!
That’s not to say that the risk of death is not increased for cannabis users. If you become intoxicated from smoking or ingesting cannabis, especially if you use other substances with it, you are at increased risk of reckless behaviour and sensory impairment. So cannabis users should definitely not operate heavy machinery, or make big life-changing decisions when using the substance
What Is Cannabis Addiction?
The proper definition of addiction is a physical, chemical dependence on a substance. Quitting the substance cold-turkey causes withdrawal symptoms, often very severe. Substances like opioids and alcohol are physically addictive in this way. Withdrawal from them can even be fatal.
By this definition, cannabis addiction does not exist. Smoking a lot of pot and then quitting suddenly does not make users dangerously ill.
However, many things that produce pleasurable responses in the brain can become “addictive” in a psychological way. Plenty of people develop dependency issues with things like food, video games, gambling, or sex. These things release dopamine in the brain, which is a natural chemical that makes us feel good. Activities that cause a dopamine release keep the brain’s owner wanting more – even if they become overweight, bankrupt, or serial divorcees!
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If someone has issues like psychological trauma or depression, and doesn’t have the life skills to deal with them positively, they can develop a craving for activities that cause dopamine release. This makes them feel better, but it's just in the short term.
Cannabis, like food or gambling, makes the brain release dopamine. It also contains THC, which activates proteins in the brain that affect learning, memory, and reward processing. So it’s quite possible for people who develop a craving for these stimuli to want to use more cannabis than is considered moderate.
So is cannabis addictive? Technically, no. But it is possible to use it to excess if you develop cravings you can’t control.
Is Cannabis Dangerous?
Some believe that cannabis use can make symptoms stronger in people with mental health issues. In particular, sufferers of bipolar disorder have reported a worsening of symptoms with cannabis use. However, in people with no mental illness, there is little to no evidence that using cannabis can cause these symptoms.
In other words: if you are mentally healthy, using cannabis or hashish moderately will not make you mentally ill.
A 2014 study that was published in Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine looked at the relationship between cannabis use and respiratory disease. It's plausible that smoking cannabis or marijuana might contribute to lung cancer and other serious diseases, but there is no proven link.
The authors of the study made sure to confirm that heavy use of cannabis is not condoned for lung health. Moderation is key!
If cannabis is smoked with tobacco or other harmful burning substances, then of course the increase in lung disease correlates to the increase in those substances. But this increase isn’t proven to correlate directly to the use of cannabis.
The Advantages of Cannabis
There has been mounting evidence in the medical and therapeutic professions that cannabis can be useful in treating the symptoms of some conditions, in adult users.
- Cannabis use for chronic pain
Chronic pain can lead to loss of quality of life and disability, affecting more than 25 million adults in the U.S. alone. Cannabinoids have been found to be effective in relieving pain.
- Cannabis use in cancer treatment
While cannabis use has not been shown to have any curative effects on various forms of cancer, it has very well-documented benefits for alleviating discomfort, nausea and loss of appetite in patients undergoing chemotherapy. It is usually used in tandem with other medicine.
- Cannabis use in treating alcohol or narcotic addiction
There is a lot of evidence that cannabis use can help people with dangerous alcohol or opioid dependencies. It can alleviate the cravings and anxiety that come with tapering or quitting these substances. Used in conjunction with other proven methods to beat addiction, it can really help. You can get premium medical cannabis oil from NuLeaf Naturals.
- Cannabis for PTSD, depression and anxiety
The review published in Clinical Psychology Review assessed all published scientific literature that investigated the use of marijuana to treat symptoms of mental illness.
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So what is the verdict on cannabis addiction?
Cannabis addiction technically does not exist. It is not like addiction to alcohol or narcotic substances, which need tested and proven methods to beat. In fact, it seems like medical CBD oil could actually help overcome addiction.
But the social or psychological conditions that can make people do too much of one thing, like eat too much or play Xbox games for days on end, can also make some cannabis users increase their intake to where it might affect their lives negatively.
All in all, the advantages of moderate cannabis use for health benefits and relaxation outweigh any negatives. Addiction to cannabis is not a serious consideration if you have no other underlying problems.