Can Marijuana Be Addictive: Who Gets Addicted and Why?

Answers About the Addictive Potential for Cannabis

Do you enjoy the delectable aroma of cannabis and the exhilarating feeling after a few puffs? Have you been using marijuana regularly and found yourself wondering, perhaps I’m addicted to getting high?

When you ingest something often, it’s common to worry about how it affects your physical or psychological well-being and to ask the question: can marijuana be addictive?

Cannabis use and cultivation are now legal in many states. Many home growers enjoy the juicy buds grown from marijuana seeds for beginners, for example. Can this extra exposure lead to addiction?

Continue reading to discover if you can get hooked on weed and what other effects it might have on you.

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Why Is Weed So Popular?

Marijuana is a versatile plant, and you can consume it in several ways. Whether smoked in a joint, added to cooking, or applied as a topical, there are no doubt users enjoy the many potential benefits.

Cannabis is popular now, but it’s been around for thousands of years, with our ancestors using it for medical or religious purposes. Many anecdotal reports claim relief for numerous conditions—although scientific data is lacking to back it up.

When used correctly, you can enjoy marijuana and the many reported benefits without it leading to cannabis dependence or needing to quit weed altogether.

Let’s take a closer look at what makes weed so popular and why people start to consume more.

Why Is Weed So Popular

The Therapeutic Factor

Most consumers rely on anecdotal experiences regarding cannabis’ effects. There’s insufficient evidence to back up claims, and the available research is mainly on the effectiveness of cannabidiol (CBD).

The potential benefits of the non-psychoactive compound are why weed’s become more popular among medical cannabis users.

According to the World Health Organization, CBD is safe to use. If you’re using or intend to consume cannabidiol, it most likely won’t lead to dependence on cannabis.

The legalization of medical marijuana in several states adds to its popularity. In some regions, patients can cultivate cannabis at home for this purpose.

Medical consumers claim cannabis holds the following benefits without experiencing a psychological addiction:

  • Reduces nausea and vomiting as a result of chemotherapy and other treatments
  • Assists with loss of appetite linked to HIV/AIDS
  • Alleviates anxiety
  • Eases pain
  • Calms symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis
  • Improves insomnia
  • Relieves muscle spasms

Besides these advantages, some patients replace pharmaceutical drugs with medical weed as it has fewer adverse consequences.

One of the studies conducted indicates that cannabis can reduce blood pressure. Other research has also revealed that CBD helps relieve inflammation and pain.

If you’re considering trying medicinal cannabis, you may wonder if this is how people get addicted to weed. Exercise caution with medical marijuana doses, even when recommended by a healthcare professional.

Record the strain of weed you use, the dosage administered, how often you consume it, and the effects you feel. Discuss the outcomes with your general practitioner, especially if there are any unexpected or undesired sensations.

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The “High” Feeling

One of the main reasons why people try weed is to experience feeling high. THC is one of the main compounds in marijuana and the psychoactive ingredient responsible for this sensation.

When inhaling a joint or vaping, consumers experience an intense euphoric feeling within minutes; after 2–3 hours, it dissipates. The same effects take longer to set in with edibles or cannabis-infused drinks but take even more time to disappear.

Eating or drinking it can get you hooked on weed more easily as you could consume more than intended. While waiting for the effects to set in, it might appear that you haven’t had enough, impatience kicks in, and you have another dose.

Allow up to two hours to pass before having a second dose to avoid adverse symptoms and possible dependence.

How Does A “High” Feel?

Most people confirm that a high from cannabis feels like any or all of the following:

  • It improves creativity
  • It makes you feel happy and relaxed
  • Things may appear brighter and more enjoyable
  • You become chatty, expressive, and extroverted

These feelings are what encourage some people to keep indulging in marijuana. Others have been enjoying these benefits for a long time without developing a dependence.

It helps many unwind after a hard day, gets them in a party mood, and gives them the boost needed to complete complex tasks.

Why does it hook some and not others? In other words: why am I addicted to weed, but my friends aren’t?

Each marijuana strain has different impacts on an individual. They have differing levels of CBD and THC, resulting in varying effects.

It’s easy to misjudge the dosage if you’re unaware of how potent the strain is. Know what you’re consuming before deciding how much.

Possible Side-effects

Cannabis has many potential benefits but also has some side effects.

  • May leave you feeling anxious
  • Can impair your judgment and senses
  • Can impact your motor skills and reaction time
  • Could affect your balance and coordination
  • Can make you uninhibited
  • Can impair your short-term memory
  • Smokers become at risk of developing a lung condition with prolonged use

So, you know why people enjoy cannabis but is dependency real, and how do people get addicted to weed?

Is Marijuana Addictive?

There are varying views on whether weed is addictive or not. The fact is, if users manage their consumption, the chances of becoming dependent are unlikely.

One condition, known as ‘cannabis use disorder’ or CUD, results from chronic use, and many regard it as marijuana addiction. Some individuals begin consuming weed with no intention of abusing it, but occasionally, they become dependent.

What makes cannabis addictive?

There are various reasons why this can happen, and to better understand them, let’s first look at how weed impacts the brain.

Cannabis Effects on The Brain

After consumption, the cannabinoids in weed interact with the endocannabinoid system in the body, including the brain.

Anandamide, a neurotransmitter, activates the cannabinoid receptors in a human. It’s responsible for appetite, pain relief, memory, and sleep. It also increases dopamine levels, manufactured in the brain and associated with pleasure.

These effects are evident in some who consume weed as they struggle to remain focused or recall important information.

The happiness and contentment, however, could answer many people’s question—why am I addicted to weed? Let’s explore this further.

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The THC Effect

THC, which resembles anandamide, also mimics the behavior of this receptor and contributes toward the release of higher quantities of dopamine. It creates the feeling of euphoria and is what many aim to experience by consuming weed.

The neurons found in the reward system are what trigger this chemical. The result is a positive feeling that encourages the brain to repeat the behavior and emotion. It could force a person into ‘needing’ more THC for this to happen over time.

These increased levels of dopamine and THC consumption are why there’s a chance of getting hooked on weed.

The body cannot produce the neurotransmitter when consuming vast amounts of THC over a long period. It becomes reliant on THC to do the work, and the individual starts building a tolerance.

At some point, the original dosage has no effect, and users feel the need to boost their intake to replicate a similar high. The potency levels of cannabis have gradually increased over the years, making THC stronger than before.

So, becoming mentally addicted to weed is possible.

Who Is At Risk for Cannabis Dependence?

Experts believe teenagers are more likely to succumb to cannabis addiction than older recreational and medicinal users.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), marijuana affects psychological function. Young peoples’ brains are still developing, and introducing any mind-altering substances can impact their development.

Some claim that the IQ in individuals who started using weed as teenagers dropped when they reached middle age. Others believe that brain cells could become damaged and result in various symptoms.

The CDC has also recorded that cannabis use during pregnancy could negatively impact the unborn child. Continuous weed intake may amplify this condition if the mother is already dependent on cannabis.

These children could eventually struggle with various cognitive issues.

It’s important to note that not everyone consuming weed gets affected the same way. Your reaction to consuming cannabis depends on:

  • Your genetic makeup
  • The consumption method
  • The cannabis strain and potency
  • Whether you consume it alone or with other substances

These factors could also contribute to an addiction and dependence level.

Can Marijuana be Addictive: Reasons For Dependence

Reasons For Marijuana Dependence

When casual consumers suddenly find themselves dependent on cannabis, it may leave them asking why weed is so addictive for them. Other reasons exist besides the impact it has on the brain.

Here’s a list of possibilities that might make you more inclined to depend on cannabis:

  • Have a family history of substance abuse
  • Had a traumatic childhood experience
  • Experience peer pressure
  • Missing a support structure or having no connection to society
  • Depend on weed for medical conditions

Treatment is available if you consider yourself dependent on marijuana. If you’ve concluded that “I’m addicted to getting high,” you can receive therapy and counseling to assist you.

Now you know why some become dependent on weed, let’s look at how to identify addiction in yourself and others.

The Signs and Symptoms of Cannabis Addiction

THC is greatly responsible for what makes cannabis addictive, making it difficult for specific individuals to live without marijuana. It negatively affects their daily behavior and interactions with family and friends.

Other behavioral symptoms of someone dependent on cannabis are:

  • Consuming excessive amounts of weed unintentionally
  • Continuous craving for marijuana
  • Increased level of tolerance—higher doses are no longer satisfying
  • Sacrificing social interactions for cannabis
  • Using weed even in risky situations and despite the consequences
  • Disrupting daily activities, including work
  • Experience great difficulty in avoiding pot
  • Deception about behavior and whereabouts

The physical signs linked to people addicted to marijuana are:

  • Extreme fatigue, lethargy, and sleepiness
  • Compromised balance and coordination
  • Red eyes and dry mouth
  • Neglecting personal hygiene and grooming

Some of these indications can result from another condition or be symptoms of addiction to other substances. Other warnings of reliance on weed could be psychological and include the following:

  • Uncontrolled mood swings
  • Damage to short term memory capacity
  • Feeling volatile and restless
  • Being unpredictable and indecisive
  • Unable to track time

Consider these indications if you’re concerned that you may have a dependence or are wondering, how do I know if I’m addicted to getting high?

If you need it, there’s help to become less dependent. There are ways of enjoying weed without the fear of addiction. And if it has become an addiction, there are ways to get help.

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Marijuana Use Without Addiction

Monitoring your intake is an excellent start if you’re a casual user concerned about becoming too fond of cannabis.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle by following a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and finding alternative ways to manage stress. If you want to quit weed and your friends are marijuana users, limit your social gatherings with those individuals.

Parents and educators should speak with young people about the long-term effects of ingesting cannabis. They need to receive the appropriate support if they’re suffering from depression and anxiety.

Now you know why weed is so addictive for some people. If you feel you’ve become dependent, there are plenty of ways to reduce the desire to consume cannabis.

How To Shake It Off

Finding a way to shake off the craving for weed depends on your level of addiction. Consider the following actionable suggestions:

Reduce Consumption

Before cutting down on your usage, determine how much and how often you’re currently consuming. Once you’ve decided this, start reducing the amount of weed you ingest.

For example, cut it down to four instead of five times a day. While doing this, find something else to occupy your time and distract you from craving, such as:

  • Watch a video
  • Go for a walk
  • Take a shower
  • Read a book
  • Do a puzzle
  • Cook or bake

Continue this practice until you’ve reached your desired daily intake or stopped consuming marijuana.

Cold Turkey

If reducing your weed use gradually isn’t for you, try stopping cold turkey. There are a few things to consider when doing this to help you get through the tough times.

Discard Your Stash

Get rid of any cannabis you have, including any paraphernalia. You don’t want anything around that could trigger your craving.

Revisit Your Friendships

Do you have friends who you smoke weed with? It’s best to avoid hanging out with them—at least for now. Surround yourself with people who can support your decision and encourage you.

Find A Hobby

Take up a new pastime to distract you from the desire to consume cannabis. It can be an outdoor activity or something creative, like art. If this doesn’t appeal to you, then taking a cooking class or learning another language could help.

Seek Professional Help

Enlisting a therapist to get you through a difficult time is a popular option. They can identify the underlying cause of your addiction.

Admitting to a professional that “I’m addicted to getting high” creates an opportunity to receive expert advice to help you overcome this challenge. The approaches used are:

Contingency Management

This method rewards you for reaching certain milestones in your recovery journey. It’s aimed at reinforcing positive behavior.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy

This approach reminds you of the reasons you’re giving up weed. It motivates you to set goals and encourages you to achieve them based on inner motivation.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Your therapist helps you identify any repressed issues responsible for your dependence. You’ll learn skills and healthy habits to assist with managing them.

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Finding A Balance

Finding a balance between consuming cannabis and living a healthy life is vital. It’s also important to be aware of the risk of becoming dependent.

Not everyone who enjoys marijuana will become mentally addicted to weed or suffer from dependence. Some have used cannabis recreationally their entire lives without becoming hooked.

The side effects and benefits mentioned all vary from one person to another. Consuming marijuana can be a liberating and enjoyable experience if you exercise caution and remain mindful of the factors that could lead to addiction. Choose to enjoy marijuana the right way today.

If you think you or someone close might be dependent on cannabis, reach out for help. Get the services you need with a quick call to Find Addiction Rehabs today!


About the Author

Jennifer Gallagher, guest post author headshotJennifer Gallagher, is an experienced cannabis grower at SeedSupreme Seedbank. During a 7-year career in the marijuana growing business, Jennifer has gained a high competence in this field. As far as weed is concerned, she knows it all inside out. Jennifer is an expert in pot-growing, as well as cannabis types and their effects. She’s also familiar with all the legislative nuances of the industry.


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