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Can You Become Dependent on Marijuana?

Can You Become Dependent on Marijuana?

You’ve been told that marijuana isn’t addictive, so you continue using it without concern, especially here in the state of Washington where cannabis is legal. In point of fact, this isn’t the case as 30% of people who use marijuana may have a marijuana use disorder, at least to some degree.

As part of our comprehensive addiction and substance use disorder treatments, the team here at Northshore Family Practice includes marijuana use disorders. While not as evident as, say, alcoholism or opioid addiction, misusing marijuana can lead to some of the same problems, including addiction and dependency.

Understanding a marijuana use disorder

There are typically two sides to any substance use disorder: dependence and addiction. Dependency refers to the withdrawal side effects your body goes through when you quit using, while addiction refers to the rewiring in your brain that creates uncontrollable cravings.

These are overly simplistic explanations of some very complex issues, but the presence of either dependence or addiction can disrupt your life in meaningful ways.

Dependency issues with marijuana

To recognize whether you’ve become dependent on cannabis, you should look out for signs of cannabis withdrawal syndrome, such as:

These symptoms typically last a week or two after quitting and can be strong enough to drive you back to using marijuana to find relief.

The reason why you may experience these side effects is that your use of marijuana has reduced your brain’s production (and sensitivity to) your own natural endocannabinoid neurotransmitters.

To give you an idea of how prevalent cannabis withdrawal syndrome is, a recent study in JAMA of more than 23,500 regular cannabis users found that that nearly half (47%) showed signs of withdrawal.

Addiction issues with marijuana

The addiction side of the equation is just as problematic. To recognize whether your use of cannabis might be classified as an addiction, look for signs of:

In other words, using cannabis tends to eclipse almost everything else in your life and is never far from your thoughts.

Treating marijuana use disorders

If you feel that you’ve become a prisoner of your marijuana use, we can help you break both your dependence and addiction through:

The first step, however, is yours, as you need to recognize that you need help. The good news is that once you’ve made that decision, we have the tools you need to break free from marijuana.

To learn more about marijuana use disorders, please contact our office in Bothell, Washington, to set up a consultation.

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