With social acceptance and public opinion at an all-time high in our lifetimes, the normalization of marijuana use allows problem use and addiction to seemingly blend into the noise of casual users. Much like how alcoholism and alcohol use disorder happen right in front of our societal noses, so too does marijuana addiction.
Particularly recently, with sweeping legalization taking place across the country, marijuana use is being perceived as less and less risky.
The nonchalance likely owed to the idea that it’s “just a plant” and natural. It is true that marijuana is simply the dried leaves, flowers, stems and seeds from the Cannabis sativa plant. The mind-altering psychoactive active ingredient being the THC (delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol) being ingested via smoking, vaping, edibles, consuming the resins for a much more intense high (known as “dabs”), etc.
All-natural doesn’t inherently mean all good, however.
With access to it becoming ever-easier, the questions of safety, whether legalization is the “right” thing to do and more come up. And the debate doesn’t offer very many obvious and unambiguous answers, but one thing is abundantly clear: we have a storied and checkered history with marijuana and it is a substance that you can have problem usage with, dependency on and addiction to.
It’s been vilified as an evil and a gateway drug and praised as a cash crop and for its medicinal value. It was legal for over a century in the United States before regulation started in the early 1900s leading to the Marihuana Tax Act in 1937 which essentially criminalized it nationwide. More draconian and harsh punishments followed.
So, what’s the truth?
As with all controversial topics, the truth of the matter is elusively somewhere in the middle, in the grey area, but what’s known definitively is that marijuana use disorder is a very real thing. Not only that but it’s often left untreated with only 7% of people with past-year marijuana use disorder receiving any marijuana-specific treatment according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
With roughly 22.2 million people using marijuana each month, it’s the most commonly used illegal drug in the country (states are indeed legalizing it but it remains illegal on the federal level). Additionally, over 1/3rd of high school seniors, 35.2%, have used marijuana in the past year.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimates that “approximately 1 in 10 people who use marijuana will become addicted. When they start before age 18, the rate of addiction rises to 1 in 6”.
Realizing how utterly widespread the use is illustrates just how few people get adequate and appropriate treatment.
Contributing to the ease with which people get hooked, there’s been a documented increase in potency over the last few decades. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that “in the early 1990s, the average THC content in confiscated marijuana samples was less than 4%. In 2018, it was more than 15%”.
As for the idea of marijuana being a gateway drug, as loudly as that drum has been beat, it’s still somewhat inconclusive. Studies show “moderate evidence of a statistical association between cannabis use and the development of substance dependence and/or a substance abuse disorder for substances, including alcohol, tobacco, and other illicit drugs”. Nonetheless, it’s been established that the majority of people who use do not go on to use harder substances.
At Thrive Treatment℠ we accept most private insurance plans and we are in network with Cigna, Optum, First Health, and Anthem Blue Cross. Additional payment options are available so don’t hesitate to give us a call so we can get you the help that you need.
Not necessarily the first thing that pops into someone’s mind in terms of an addictive substance, marijuana can without a doubt hook you. The evidence and research are so conclusive to that end that the symptoms of Cannabis Use Disorder are defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the holy grail and gold standard used to diagnose mental disorders.
The symptoms of addiction to marijuana are:
Additional signs of use and abuse are: