The cannabis plant is linked to a lot of contradictory information on whether it can be addictive or not. The era of “Reefer Madness” came with stigma on cannabis and made people believe that the plant is a dangerous and destructive drug. On the other hand, many individuals believe that cannabis is perfectly safe for medical use and non-addictive.  

Nonetheless, cannabis addictiveness varies from user to the other, with some claiming that its addictive and other saying its non- addictive. Most individuals who use cannabis for different purposes hardly become addicted, but this is not the case for others who tend to get addicted to cannabis after some usage.

Does Cannabis Addiction Exist?

Scientific studies prove that cannabis is indeed addictive. According to a 2018 study conducted by Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, about one in 10 cannabis users will become addicted.

According to the National Institute of Drug and Abuse (NIDA), about 30% of cannabis users develop a disorder. Approximately 10 to 30% of cannabis smokers will become dependent, while 9 % will develop an addiction.  

Cannabis users may become physically, psychologically and socially dependent. Physical withdrawal symptoms can include discomforts such as weight loss, migraines, and abdominal pain, while psychological symptoms usually include aggravation, anxiety, insomnia. Social dependence on cannabis means a user must use cannabis in social settings while other are present.

The DSM-5 sees cannabis addiction as a “cannabis use disorder,” which is the constant cannabis use by a user despite being aware of impairment in psychological, physical, or social functioning.”

Usually, when individuals constantly use cannabis while acknowledging the negative consequences on their lives, they may have lost control of themselves and could be addicted to cannabis. Individuals with cannabis use disorder may lack awareness of themselves, and they may not realize that their behavior is resulting in problems for themselves and others.

According to several studies, a forecasted 22.1 million people globally suffer from a cannabis use disorder.

Don’t confuse Dependence with Addiction

Dependence and addiction are closely linked but they have several key differences that set them apart.

Dependence is when a user is physically reliant on a substance due to regular use. Individuals who are dependent on a drug usually experience terrible withdrawal symptoms without it.

On the other hand, addiction is marked by unmanageable manifestation that urges the user to keep using the drug despite being bad for the health.

An example of an addicted user is someone who would prefer to smoke than attend a social gathering or a person who prefer to smoke and boycott lectures.

Dependence and addiction usually go hand in hand, but it’s not always the case. A person may have to urge to use marijuana without experiencing symptoms of an addicted person constantly.

So, Is Weed Addictive?

Yes, marijuana is addictive. Nonetheless, keep in mind that not all cannabis consumers will become addicted to the substance. Some users may have marijuana dependence and not experience the uncontrollable manifestations related to addiction.

When we consider that around 9% of people that use cannabis develop a cannabis use disorder, we realize that the vast majority of cannabis users will not become addicted.