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Marijuana Addiction Is Real

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In light of the pending legislation on the decriminalizing of marijuana in Washington State, Oregon, and Colorado, it may be useful to revisit the recent trend of reefer madness in the media and why it is a much bigger deal than proponents believe it is. Whether or not governments legalize pot, the bottom line is that weed is a drug and should be respected for its intoxicating properties. Exhibiting the same type of properties that cessation from alcohol, opiates, nicotine, caffeine, and any other physically (or psychologically) addicting substance, kicking a pot habit can lead to withdrawal. As far as psychological argument for marijuana addiction goes, popular opinion is that it is divorced from physical addiction. Withdrawals are physical manifestations of physical dependencies. Alan J. Budney, a professor of psychiatry at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College in Lebanon NH remarks on some of the interesting properties of pot once it is removed from regular use: “It’s very similar to what people experience with tobacco…It makes you irritable. It makes you restless. It makes it hard to sleep.” Indeed, there are many similarities between cigarettes and weed.

Marijuana vs. Cigarettes

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that marijuana smokers experience respiratory disturbances similar to tobacco smokers, including coughs and lung infections. Also like tobacco, marijuana may increase the risk of heart attack due to its ability to raise blood pressure and heart rate. Studies have determined that there are 50% to 70% more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke, thus increasing the potential to contracting cancer. Though there has been no significant increase in specific cancers due to pot smoking, the dangers of heart issues is enough alone to raise eyebrows to the health problems associated with smoking weed.

Same Addiction Issues, Different Drugs

In addition to the obvious health issues which can not be disputed, there is the argument against marijuana addiction. When you use the drug, your mind is altered. Getting high is the most common vernacular associated with smoking pot. It is a mind altering substance, just like alcohol, cocaine, heroin, and any pharmaceutical pain killer. The concerns here are not the ethics of decriminalization or legalization. People will use whether or not something is okayed in the eyes of the law. The problem is that people gravitate to using a substance in the first place. If smoking weed wasn’t addictive, then why is there a need for a 12 step program of recovery like MA?

Addictions are defined by the fact that excessive, frequent and prolonged usage leads to a life revolving around the idol of whatever substance is being abused. This is what marijuana addiction looks like. It is no different than dependence on cigarettes and caffeine at its basest form. Sure, nicotine and sodas or coffee (and alcohol) for that matter are not socially stigmatized like other illicit drugs are. Weed may be considered to be on the fence for now, and may in another few generations lose the countercultural stigma, the same way alcohol did. This does not change the fact that someone can abuse it and become addicted.

Remember, help is available for those looking for answers to questions about addictions for themselves or for loved ones. Please call for information about the right direction to go in for substance abuse recovery: 1-800-853-1614, 24/7.

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