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Is Weed Addictive?

As more and more states across the US legalize marijuana for medical or even recreational use, many people assume it must be inherently safe to use. But as with almost any regulated substance, there is always the potential for abuse.

With marijuana becoming increasingly available, it’s important for people from all walks of life to familiarize themselves with the real facts about marijuana usage. This includes answering a common question:

Is weed addictive?

The Truth About Marijuana Addiction

Contrary to the widespread misconception that marijuana is a “safe” drug, weed addiction is not only possible but relatively common. In fact, reputable sources such as The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the DSM-5 specifically identify marijuana as an addictive drug.

Recent statistics have supported this identification, showing that many users struggle with dependence on marijuana:

  • Over 200,000 people sought treatment for weed addiction in 2015
  • About 4 million people struggled with marijuana addiction in 2017
  • Roughly 7.6% of young adults in the United States report daily or near-daily marijuana use

Furthermore, NIDA estimates that 30% of weed users experience some kind of marijuana use disorder. And as the availability of marijuana becomes increasingly prevalent, it’s likely that we will only see these numbers go up over time.

Signs of Marijuana Addiction

Also known as “marijuana use disorder,” weed addiction is a recognized and diagnosable condition listed in the DSM-5. Because it is possible to develop a marijuana tolerance over time, many users require larger and larger amounts of the drug to experience the same effects. For some, this increasing usage can lead to physical dependence and outright addiction.

The most overarching sign of addiction is simply “continuing use despite adverse effects,” which means that a person continues marijuana use even though it’s interfering with important aspects of their life like relationships, work, or school. In regard to an official diagnosis, there are also other specific symptoms and behaviors which may point to a developing marijuana use disorder. These include:

  • Excessive use — more often, in larger amounts, or for a longer time than intended
  • Unable to control or reduce usage
  • Spending a significant amount of time acquiring, using, and recovering from marijuana
  • Consistent cravings
  • Difficulty fulfilling responsibilities due to marijuana use
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or social activities in favor of marijuana
  • Using in dangerous situations (such as while operating machinery or driving a car)
  • Developing an increasing tolerance
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using

Signs of Marijuana Withdrawal

Despite marijuana’s benign reputation, users can develop a physical dependence on the drug, relying on weed to function normally. In this case, marijuana users may experience the effects of withdrawal if they try to stop or reduce their intake. These withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Irritability
  • Insomnia or trouble sleeping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Restlessness

The Impact of Early Marijuana Use

For most people that consume marijuana, their weed use begins at a formative age. In fact, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that over 22% of Americans between the ages of 18-25 had used marijuana in the month before the survey.

One contributing factor to weed usage among young people is the prevalence of social pressure. Teenagers may feel the need to partake in weed to fit in with their peers or may write off their usage as just “social smoking” without considering the potential consequences.

However, establishing an early habit of marijuana consumption can be the beginning of a slippery slope. Research shows that users who begin partaking in marijuana during their teenage years are 4 to 7 times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder, suggesting that early exposure may predispose users to addiction later in life.

Parents concerned about marijuana or other drug use should communicate openly with their children and, if necessary, seek treatment sooner rather than later. Early intervention may make a critical difference in the development of long-term addiction.

Treating Weed Addiction

Many marijuana users don’t realize at first that they need help addressing their habit. With the growing popularity and normalization of weed usage, it may seem harmless or, at least, not severe enough to require rehab services.

But when marijuana use begins interfering with an individual’s life and responsibilities, they may need outside help to conquer their addiction. In this case, there are resources and services available to support users on their path to recovery.

  • Support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous empower users by connecting them with a local network of allies on the same journey, providing a safe space to discuss and overcome their weed addiction together.
  • In-patient rehabilitation centers help users detox with medical supervision and accountability to ease temptation and ensure their safety during recovery.
  • SAMHSA’s 24-Hour Helpline can help users find rehabilitation programs in their area or connect them with other resources as needed.

People seeking to rehabilitate from marijuana addiction are also encouraged to lean on their support system of family and friends while trying to put their lives back together. Having a reliable source of love, encouragement, and accountability can be a deciding factor in their successful recovery.

Get the Answers You Need with Countrywide Testing

If you believe that a friend or loved one is on the path to weed addiction, Countrywide Testing can help. Our tests provide confirmation so you can recognize marijuana dependence and get your loved ones the support they need.

Countrywide Testing is an online retailer providing you with easy access to drug tests and pharmacogenetic testing. We offer an array of products for testing at home, individuals staying clean after rehab, workplace testing, healthcare emergencies, and law enforcement purposes. These include multiple options for marijuana and THC testing.

Our test kits are convenient, affordable, and ship to you quickly. Plus, our lab is accredited by SAMHSA, so you can rest assured your test results are handled in accordance with the highest industry standards.

Want more information on how Countrywide can support a journey toward rehabilitation from marijuana abuse? Just contact our team today.



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