Study Suggests Marijuana May be Addictive
September 3rd, 2014
Policy, Top News
Marijuana has been long touted as a non-addictive drug, which differentiates it from many other harmful drugs like cocaine or heroin, but a new study challenges that theory. In a new study appearing in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, researchers followed the outcomes of 127 teens treated for outpatient substance abuse, finding that 84% of them met the criteria for marijuana dependence.
“As more people are able to obtain and consume cannabis legally for medical and, in some states, recreational use, people are less likely to perceive it as addictive or harmful,” said John Kelly, a co-author of the study. “But research shows that cannabis use can have significant consequences, and we know that among adolescents it is second only to alcohol in rates of misuse.”
The researchers defined marijuana dependence as increased tolerance for the use of the drug as well as unsuccessful attempts to reduce to stop using the drug. Approximately two-fifths of the 90 teens also experienced withdrawal symptoms when they stopped using marijuana, which is interpreted as a sign of dependence, according to the study’s authors and their defined parameters.
Teens that experienced withdrawal symptoms were also more likely to experience negative side effects, like trouble at school, at work, or in relationships. The same teens were also more likely to meet the guidelines for marijuana dependence and mood disorders. Those recognizing the problem early were found to be more likely to make progress towards abstinence compared to those who didn’t.
“The importance of understanding the addictiveness, risks and harms associated with cannabis use is a major theme of this study’s findings,” said Kelly. “Recognizing those risks is known to reduce the likelihood that someone will start to use drugs, and better understand the roles of substances in those problems experienced by patients may help them cut down on future use.”
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