Even the most seasoned of cannabis smokers wonder this from time to time. Is weed addictive? Can you get hooked on it and then experience withdrawal? What about psychological addiction as opposed to just physical? The good news is, most people can get into weed without becoming addicted in any way, shape, or form. However, for certain users, there is a risk of dependence. And it can be quite harmful.
Cannabis Addiction Is Very Rare, But Real For Some
So, you most likely won’t be having serious cannabis cravings even if you’re a regular smoker or an edible lover. You may want some weed now and then, but it’s not quite the same as needing it to function. Unlike, say, caffeine, regular use of weed does not give people any withdrawal symptoms. And caffeine is legal and heavily consumed throughout the country.
Go figure. Like alcohol, weed used in moderation is considered recreational and not harmful to the mind or body. Want a drink or smoke at the end of a long work day? Go for it. It won’t hurt you. It might even help make you all the more productive.
However, cannabis addiction can exist for some, and it can be used excessively. Smokers prone to anxiety, high levels of stress, and mental illness may find themselves dependent on pot, at least psychologically. Physical symptoms are rare but might include memory problems, trouble with concentration, anxiety, and distorted perception. Your genes also play a huge role in whether or not you can smoke a responsible amount and not get hooked. According to a study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), about 9% of weed users will become addicted. Other researchers estimate that this number is even higher.
How Can You Get Addicted to Weed?
It is quite unfortunate that cannabis lovers get a bad rap and are often unfairly labeled as lazy and stupid just for smoking. It’s also unfair that just about every weed smoker is assumed to be “addicted.” If you smoke several times a day and can otherwise go about your work and life without issue, it’s very unlikely that you’re an addict.
So, the average person who loves weed is definitely not dependent on it. But when weed gets in the way of work, relationships, and overall happiness, that’s when it can become a problem. Carl Hart, Ph.D., is an associate professor of psychology at Columbia University. According to Carl, measuring addiction is all about measuring behavioral patterns.
“When you look at the people who are addicted, and you look at people who have jobs and families, they have responsibilities, they’re plugged into their societies, they have a social network, the addiction rates within those kinds of groups are dramatically decreased from people who are not plugged in with jobs, families, social networks,” he told Healthline.
For those who are addicted, family, jobs, social networks and general happiness tends to be an area of struggle. They also may have built up such a tolerance that they need a lot of weed to get high and feel stable. Insane amounts of boredom, agitation, vivid dreams, and even depression can be a kickback.
How to Prevent Addiction
The only way to prevent becoming addicted is to get in tune with yourself. Know your limits and when too much weed is enough for you. If you’ve smoked so much that you feel kind of sick or funny, lay off for a day or two. Sometimes all you need is a quick break.
That bottom line is that most of us have a lot of things that make us feel good and keep us happy. Weed is just one of those many things. But for addicts, if they can’t smoke weed, they can become miserable. And if they aren’t addicted to weed, chances are, they’ll find something else to get hooked on. (Research actually shows that moderate weed use can help with other drug addictions). Addiction is a complex and chronic disease that affects the brain and body. Contrary to popular belief, addictive patterns are often not a choice.
Weed may initially help with depression symptoms and anxiety, or act as a way to treat trauma or PTSD, but weed lovers should know their personal limits. If you find yourself couch-locked all day, skipping work, and refusing to hang out with friends, you may want to cut back a bit and bring down your tolerance level, or else it might become an addictive behavior. Find other things to get you “high,” like exercise, sex, and laughter (weed can help enhance all of these). And fear not, because, for most, weed is just something that’s fun and healthy, not addictive.