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Why is Marijuana So Addictive?

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Man holding jointThe medical community has had an ongoing debate as to whether or not marijuana is addictive. Over the past several decades, marijuana has been grouped together with other drugs such as cocaine and heroin that are known to be addictive as a Schedule I drug. This classification means the drug has a high potential for abuse and the potential to create severe psychological and/or physical dependence.1

But is marijuana really addictive? This might not be the best question to ask. Instead, we need to understand whether or not people become dependent on marijuana. Establishing dependence provides a more accurate picture of the nature of marijuana use.

The Signs of Addiction

To begin, let’s look at the characteristics of dependence. When three of the following six events or behaviors occur, an individual has drug dependence.

  1. Individual has a need for increased amounts of marijuana to achieve the desired effect or experiences a markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of marijuana.
  2. Individual begins to use marijuana in larger amounts or over a longer period than intended.
  3. Individual has a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or reduce marijuana use.
  4. Individual has spent a great deal of time spent obtaining, using, or recovering from the effects of marijuana.
  5. Individual has given up important social, occupational, or recreational activities in favor of marijuana use.
  6. Individual continues marijuana use despite persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problems caused or exacerbated by use.2

Studies suggest that 9 percent of people who use marijuana will become dependent on it. For those who start marijuana use in their teens, the number rises to 17 percent.3 Despite how marijuana is shown in movies or TV shows, the consequences of marijuana use can be very severe. Many who use marijuana lose interest in normal activities and perform poorly at work. Marijuana is also known to reduce sperm counts in men. The drug also has a negative effect on the fetus if smoked during pregnancy.

Many individuals want to stop marijuana use but have been unsuccessful stopping on their own. This is where professional drug treatment can make all the difference. Drug addiction is a chronic disease, like heart disease. This kind of disease needs ongoing treatment—more than can be provided on your own.

>>> READ THIS NEXT: Start with Marijuana Detox

We at Michael’s House understand drug addiction. We have the experience to treat your addiction as well as the emotional and psychological conditions that often accompany it. No matter where you are today, if you feel filled with despair, anxiety, depression or if you are having suicidal thoughts, we are here to help. You can call us right now at 760.548.4032.

Our Call Center is available 24 hours a day to answer your questions and help you with the admissions process. If you have insurance, we can even tell you what forms of treatment are covered by your insurance plan. Please do not wait any longer. Let us help you today.


1 “Drug Schedules.” Drug Enforcement Administration.

2 Bressert, Steve. “Alcohol & Substance Dependence Symptoms.PsychCentral. 17 July 2016.

3 Is Marijuana Addictive? National Institute of Drug Abuse. April 2017.