Is a weed addiction physically possible?
Medical marijuana has been enjoyed for decades in the western world, but ever since the legalization of marijuana, people have been flocking to the herb en masse. Since cannabis is still a relatively new and novel topic in modern society, we often tend to overlook the consequences of marijuana overconsumption.
What we’re talking about is weed addiction.
Make no mistake about it. Even though many people will tell you that marijuana is not habit-forming and does not cause physical dependence, it still raises concern because it can be psychologically addictive, forming habits through mental and emotional behavior.
People who are addicted to weed rarely perceive it as psychological addiction since it isn’t an all-consuming force that bluntly rules your decisions. Instead, psychological addiction is more of a subtly underlying current that can sway the nature of your behavior and consistently start small changes that eventually amount to much more.
Addiction, in general, also isn’t simply a clear-cut or black and white issue that you instantly recognize and cure. There are usually many internal and external factors that can either nurture addictions or prevent them from happening in the first place.
So if psychological addiction is so hard to detect, how can you become aware of the issue and be proactive in your approach to marijuana?
Don’t worry! We have all the answers here for you, so let’s dive in!
What is Weed Addiction?
Addiction or compulsive drug use is a harmful habit that comes in a couple of different forms.
On the one hand, you have a type of addiction classified as a physical dependency characterized by severe withdrawal symptoms that can sometimes be fatal. Physical dependencies are developed through the use of “hard” drugs or addictive substances like alcohol or cocaine.
On the other hand, you have psychological addictions or mental addictions. People addicted to marijuana or caffeine usually fall under this category as those substances are considered “soft” drugs that do not amount to physical dependency.
Because of this, many people usually brush off the addictive properties of marijuana and simply regard it as non-addictive when in fact it can be.
Psychological dependencies are somewhat similar to physical dependencies, even despite the fact that the withdrawal symptoms are much less severe and life-threatening.
For example, in some severe alcoholism cases, users can pass away from a sudden lack of alcohol consumption or going “cold turkey.” Fortunately for those who use marijuana, the consequences are far less punishing.
It doesn’t take a doctor to understand that addiction can be manifested psychologically through many pleasure-inducing activities such as eating sugary foods, sex, gambling, or even playing video games.
All of those activities and many other activities alike are also considered addictive since they all produce a dopamine rush in the brain, stimulating the pleasure centers.
Are There Weed Withdrawal Symptoms?
While weed may have certain psychologically addictive components, a dependency on marijuana and weed withdrawal usually rarely cause any negative life-altering changes in the individual.
However, you still need to be aware of what to expect if your body starts to present negative side effects.
Here are some symptoms of substance addiction and weed withdrawal:
- An inability to resist using the substance
- Feelings of irritability anxiety
- Increased feelings of depression
- A general feeling of unease or dissatisfaction
- Sleep deprivation and insomnia
- A decreased appetite
- Headaches and more
While these are common signs of substance addiction, they also should be taken with a grain of salt as not all of these criteria fall in line with the behavior of the typical cannabis consumer.
Cannabis Use Disorder
The term weed addiction doesn’t quite circulate through the scientific and medical worlds as much as it does through local communities.
Instead, what scientists and medical professionals refer to as weed addiction is Cannabis Use Disorder or CUD for short.
Common symptoms of Cannabis Use Disorder:
- Marijuana use far exceeds the original intended dose and duration
- Unsuccessful efforts in halting or slowing down the use of marijuana
- Significant efforts and quantities of time spent in pursuit of obtaining marijuana, using marijuana, or recovering from its effects
- Strong, persistent urges to use marijuana
- Marijuana use interfering with responsibilities such as work or school
- Social isolation in pursuit of marijuana use
- Preceding recreational activities for marijuana
- The development of an extremely high tolerance
- Cannabis withdrawal symptoms such as lack of appetite, anxiety, sleep problems, and irritability or moodiness
These markers can accurately indicate what potential Cannabis Use Disorder may look like.
However, following these guidelines is not foolproof as many of us also tick off a few of these boxes.
Much like the common symptoms of addiction, there is difficulty in determining the necessity of treatment based on these criteria alone as there are usually more factors in play like environment and social groups when it comes to determining weed addiction.
Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS)
Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS) is a rare condition acquired through excessive daily use of cannabis for an extended period of time. CHS involves repeated and severe bouts of vomiting, lack of appetite, loss of taste and is extremely rare only occurring in daily long-term users of marijuana.
Seeing how complex marijuana’s effects on our bodies are, experts aren’t quite sure what the exact cause of CHS is as it’s a relatively new and rare case in the world of cannabis.
What experts do know is that CHS is divided into three separate phases: The prodromal phase, the hyperemetic phase, and the recovery phase.
The Prodromal Phase: The main symptoms of this phase include nausea and stomach pain that are usually experienced early in the morning. Food intake and eating patterns usually do not change during this phase. However, it is common for some people to turn to marijuana to ease the feeling of nausea and pain, further exacerbating the issue. The prodromal phase may last anywhere between a month to years.
The Hyperemetic Phase: The symptoms of this phase include persistent nausea, repeated bouts of severe vomiting, stomach pain, loss of appetite, weight loss, and dehydration. During the hyperemetic phase, the vomiting is often unrelenting and intense, causing extreme discomfort. A common remedy to alleviate the discomfort is hot showers as the heat interacts with the hypothalamus region of the brain, which controls vomiting. The hyperemetic phase will persist until the person completely stops marijuana use.
The Recovery Phase: During the recovery phase, symptoms will usually subside, with the appetite making a slow comeback. It should be noted that the symptoms often come back if the user relapses and uses marijuana again.
Weed Addiction & Tolerance Break
Given all of the implications of prolonged cannabis use, it can be safe to say that occasional tolerance breaks can greatly decrease the chance of weed addiction or Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS).
If you want to continue enjoying your weed for the foreseeable future, a 3-week long tolerance break will help your body reset itself to baseline levels, acting somewhat as a cannabinoid cleanse.
What’s even better is that a tolerance break also resets weed sensitivity, allowing you to feel the effects of your cannabis much more intensely.
Why You Don’t Want A Weed Addiction
Marijuana is a medicinally potent herb that has medical utility in a variety of different scenarios. However, excessive and persistent weed use is linked to Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD) and Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS).
These rare but distressing disorders could potentially lead to lack of appetite, pain, anxiety, sleep problems and even severe discomfort.
Though cannabis may not carry a physically addictive trait, it can still very much cause its users to develop a weed addiction. To combat this dependency, sporadic tolerance breaks are must for every cannabis enthusiast.