For the past century, the powers that be have portrayed marijuana as a powerful drug that will instantly turn a person into a hopeless addict after a single use. At the same time, counter-culture cannabis enthusiasts have suggested that weed is not only non-addictive, but that it can actually help cure addition to other drugs. So, can you get addicted to marijuana?
As usual, the truth is more complicated than a yes or no answer.
Can You Get Addicted to Marijuana?
Very broadly speaking, marijuana is not addictive – at least no more so than chocolate, potato chips, or television. The vast majority of people who smoke weed can pick it up and put it down with little to no issue.
However, roughly 30 percent of smokers develop what’s called “marijuana use disorder”, which is not quite addiction but does come with some negative consequences when a person experiencing it tries to stop smoking. They’ll often report issues like mood swings, loss of appetite, sleep problems, restlessness, and cravings for a week to two weeks after quitting.
This disorder becomes a full-blown addiction when a person will not stop smoking even if it is severely disrupting their life. The National Institute for Drug Addiction admits that numbers on marijuana addiction are hard to pin down, because dependent-level use is often tied to addiction, even though we know that dependence and addiction are often not the same thing. All told, it is estimated that some nine percent of smokers become addicted, with that number climbing as high as 17 percent among teens.
Studies have increasingly showed that marijuana may have an unexpected benefit in that it can help with the treatment of heroin addiction. And in a country that is being overrun by opioid addiction, this is exciting news indeed.
So can you get addicted to marijuana? Yes, but it’s unlikely.
If you enjoy smoking weed but you’re worried about addiction, your best bet is to make sure you only use it at responsible times, and give yourself the occasional week off to clear your head and reset.