Friday, December 18, 2015

Marijuana Addiction Is Real, but It Still Defies Definition

  • As legal marijuana spreads, science can address addiction without the cloud of social stigma.

    Kashann Kilson: 
  •    The old saw that pot’s not addictive has run hard into scientific consensus of late. Marijuana does cause dependency and addiction. But as the science improves — and laws let weed users relax a bit — we’re left with some major questions. For instances: Is marijuana addiction physical or psychological? How many recreational marijuana smokers become dependent, and how does that happen? Will the definitions of addiction change as the country slowly but surely legalizes cannabis? And of course, how can we best treat those with a marijuana dependency?
  •     To answer them we’ll have to clear hurdles, not least the subjective, inconsistent ways we define addiction. The criteria for what constitutes dependency can include the ease of which people can stop using a substance; the physical, mental, and emotional symptoms associated with withdrawal; the frequency with which the substance is used; increased spending on the substance over time; whether use and/or overuse of the substance causes negative effects (and the severity of the impact of those effects) on the user; social and personal sacrifices the user is willing to make to continue using; and altered behavior that correlates directly with frequency of use.
        By these measurements, people can become addicted to just about anything: harder drugs like crack or meth, cigarettes, alcohol, fast food, shopping, sex, porn — hell, even a substance as innocuous as water can be considered addictive, depending on who renders a diagnosis. In most recovery circles, a statement like “I can quit whenever I want to, I just don’t want to today!” points to an addiction. For most medical practitioners, any noticeable change in mood, behavior, and/or physical health associated with changes in use are considered withdrawal, which subsequently signals some level of dependency...Continue reading...

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