Is Marijuana Really Addictive?
Many people take marijuana use with a grain of salt. It’s not a hard drug, right? It’s legal in two states now, so how bad could it be for you? If you have a loved one, maybe a teenager, who is smoking pot, you may wonder if he is at risk of becoming addicted. You should be worried, but not for the reasons you might think.
Most people who use marijuana do so recreationally and without developing an addiction. When compared to other drugs that are highly addictive, like heroin, meth or cocaine, marijuana seems very innocent. Those harder drugs can result in dependence in a user very quickly. What makes some drugs so addictive is that the body becomes physically dependent upon them. A heroin addict needs another hit just to feel normal again, to stop the pain, the anxiety, the irritability and the shaking that come with withdrawal.
Marijuana does produce some light withdrawal symptoms. A regular user might start to feel a little irritable and experience an elevated heart rate when he has stopped using for a day or two. These symptoms are much milder than those seen with harder drugs, though. So is marijuana addictive? The answer is yes. Addiction is more complicated than physical dependence.
It is possible that your teen will become addicted to marijuana if he uses it regularly and frequently. If he begins to smoke pot in a way that is compulsive, if he can’t seem to stop, he needs it to relax, or he needs it to get going in the morning and to sleep at night, these are all signs of an addiction, whether he is physically dependent on the drug or not.
Even if your teen does not become addicted and sticks to casual, recreational use of marijuana, there are still risks. When he smokes pot, it makes his heart rate go up, it makes him disoriented, it makes him uncoordinated and it may make him anxious or paranoid. Marijuana is a mind-altering substance. If he tries to do anything while high, such as drive a car, or even just cross a street, he could cause an accident.
Smoking pot also carries many of the same risks as smoking cigarettes. Substances in the smoke can cause cancer and lung disease, especially with regular use. Long-term marijuana use has been shown to cause abnormalities in the brain and the development of psychiatric problems. Another problem with smoking pot is that it tends to make people lazy and apathetic. This is not true for everyone, but someone who is high all of the time is not likely to get much done.
Parents Talking With Their Teens About Marijuana Use And Its Risks
So although marijuana can in fact be addictive, it is important to remember that it is not in the same class as harder drugs. There are different ways to become addicted to a substance or a behavior. Addiction to marijuana is often more of a behavioral habit than a physical dependence.
Aside from addiction, there are many other reasons to be concerned if your teen is smoking pot. Sit your teen down for a talk about the dangers and risks associated with using this drug. Explain the possibility of addiction and the physical damage it can do to his body. With information, you empower your teen to make the best choices.
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