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Is Marijuana Addictive?

The question of whether or not marijuana is addictive, is a widely debated topic in America. Addiction is defined as being physically and mentally dependent on a particular substance.

In addition, addiction will result in being unable to stop taking the substance without experiencing unfavorable effects (known as withdrawal symptoms). The potency of marijuana has exponentially risen over the years. Different strains of marijuana contain varied levels of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the active chemical in marijuana.

While some individuals hold strong to their notion that marijuana is not addictive, others believe that it is. There are not necessarily highly addictive qualities to the marijuana drug itself, however, habitual marijuana users do experience mild withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking the drug. This physiological response to marijuana abuse can lead to an understanding that marijuana is, in fact, addictive.

Side Effects

Many young people experiment with alcohol and drugs during adolescence, and marijuana is no exception. There are several side effects that a teen may experience when using marijuana. Some of them include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Dry eyes
  • Increased appetite
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Spontaneous laughter
  • Fatigue
  • Impaired memory
  • Dizziness
  • Altered sense of time
  • Coughing
  • Dissociation
  • Lightheadedness
  • High blood pressure
  • Delusions
  • Psychosis
  • Hallucinations

There are additional side effects that can occur if a teen takes other medications, and/or mixes marijuana use with other substances. Additionally, marijuana can have significant effects on young people who struggle with bipolar disorder. In these cases, marijuana has the propensity in increase depressive symptoms, and/or worsen manic states.

The customs and habits that are created around a young person’s marijuana use can lead to abuse and/or addiction. Furthermore, marijuana is known as a “gateway” drug, primarily due to the fact that it is for the most part, all natural. Marijuana is made from the dried portions of the hemp plant. It is considered to be a harmless drug, though its use does result in a euphoric feeling. The withdrawal symptoms that a young person who has been abusing marijuana may experience when stopping marijuana are mild. They can include: difficulty sleeping, mood swings, and heightened anxiety. Young people who abuse marijuana will often go to great lengths to protect their substance abuse. Teenagers will prioritize their marijuana use above all else. They will let friendships and relationships with family members fall by the wayside. New friendships and pastimes will be centered on procuring and using marijuana. Prioritizing drugs during one’s adolescence can result in many negative consequences. Additionally, significant brain development occurs during one’s adolescence. Abusing any substance, including marijuana can have detrimental effects on one’s development. These new habits and patterns that have been created surrounding a teenager’s marijuana abuse must be addressed and changed, should the teen wish to stop abusing marijuana.

Just like any abused substance, a teenager that abuses marijuana will build a tolerance to the drug. This can lead to the young person continuously in search of obtaining their initial high, resulting in trying other illicit substances (hence, “gateway drug”). Therefore, regardless of whether you fall into the camp that marijuana is addictive or you stand firmly with your belief that it is not, abusing marijuana can lead to adverse consequences for your teenager. If there is concern about your teenager’s marijuana use, it is best to seek guidance from a qualified mental health or medical professional.

For Information and Support

Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know is in need of mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact an individual for the long term. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to happy, healthy and fulfilling lives.

Our admissions team is available to answer any general questions regarding mental health issues, treatment, and/or specific questions about the program at Pacific Teen Treatment and how we might be able to help your family.