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Fact Check: Is Marijuana Addictive?

It is, it isn’t… Let’s break through the noise and get the truth about the addiction properties of marijuana.

“Weed isn’t addictive. I can quit whenever I want.” If you’ve ever talked to someone who uses marijuana, they can seem pretty sure about the addictive properties of weed. Even though they might say weed isn’t addictive, they still seem to continue to use the drug day after day.  Shouldn’t they be able to quit if it isn’t addictive?

While many people think otherwise, research has shown that regular marijuana use causes physiological dependence, withdrawal symptoms, and addiction. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) as well as Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) both identify marijuana as an addictive drug.

So why do so many people seem unclear on how addictive marijuana really is? Much of the confusion revolves around what the signs of addiction really are. Addiction doesn’t always present itself like it does in popular culture. A person suffering from addiction is looking forward to the next time they use a substance, but they might not show any signs of addiction on the outside. A person suffering from addiction feels that their substance use is necessary for their everyday functioning – that they feel “more normal” when they are using the substance than when they aren’t. However, when they don’t have their regular use of the substance, people with addiction begin to show signs of withdrawal. Regular marijuana users who suddenly stop can experience withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, trouble sleeping, loss of appetite, headaches, depression, and cravings.

The statistics don’t lie: 1-in-10 adults who use cannabis can become addicted. That number gets even bigger for teenagers who use cannabis: 1-in-6 teenagers who start using the drug before the age of 18 can become addicted.

Marijuana addiction is real whether those who use the drug want to admit it or not. If marijuana isn’t addictive and users can quit whenever they want, they should! Addiction isn’t a character flaw and anyone can become addicted if they use a substance regularly. But the best approach by far is to never start using marijuana in the first place.

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