Pot shops are on every corner in some states, while others are rallying to vote for legalization. It’s acceptable in some medical communities for certain illnesses, or you can also go to a special doctor for ‘back pain’ and walk out with a card to light up.
Growing up, I knew an older teen who would claim that pot was not addictive. ‘It’s natural’. I took her word for it back then because she was an older kid, and because I was stoned half the time and didn’t know any better. Let’s think about some other ‘natural’ things that are known to be addictive – alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, cocaine, all which are legal – cocaine is legal for use during surgery. What makes pot different from these other drugs? Those who defend it often say it’s because you can’t overdose on it. Nor can you with cigarettes or coffee, but some people have to have them. Those who dig through the ashtray for the roach when their stash is out will also claim that it’s not addictive because it’s not a hard drug.
Take a look at the prescription-only pharmaceuticals, like oxycontin, Seconal, morphine, Valium, Ritalin, Adderal, Vicodin, Percocet, fentanyl and the dizzying list goes on. Some you’ve heard of by generic names, some by the brand name. Some people can take them as prescribed, while others get accustomed to the feeling it gives them, and they continue to ‘need’ them, as with all other addictions.
Going back to weed, if it were not possible to be addicted, why would some people go out of their way to make sure they have it every day, like sneak it into places where it’s illegal? Why would there be a Marijuana Anonymous, rehabs for marijuana addictions, and pot psychosis? I personally know someone who went into a pot psychosis and never came out of it, or at least for the 4 years I knew him. He’s now living off the grid.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, people who begin toking down before age 18 are four to seven times more likely to develop an addiction to it, than older adults (uh-oh). Those who use it regularly will experience withdrawal symptoms if they abstain for two weeks. There are people who are sober from other substances, claiming to have never smoked pot or not partaken much, and think it’ll be safe. Then it becomes their new vice. Before ya know it, they find themselves in a meeting saying, ‘My name is MaryJane and I’m a pothead’.
There are a lot of worse things it does to both your brain and nervous system, but we’ll let you take a deep dive into that on your own. It’s the same with all mind-altering substances, the tradeoff is doing a little damage to the body, while giggling for an hour and a half and staying stagnant in your life. We’re not knocking it, we’ve been there. For a very, very, very long time.
The National Institute of Health notes that regular use causes paranoia, disorganized thinking, depression, anxiety, worsening of schizophrenia symptoms, and suicidal ideations in teens. Sheesh. In the moment, we’re terrified there’s a cop following us for four miles, and later think it was a good time, so we do it again the next day.
That same NIH article says that you are unlikely to get a contact high or test positive on a drug screen if you hang out with a bunch of stoners. You will, however, get the same effects from secondhand smoke as you would from cigarettes.
The medical term for the pot problem is marijuana use disorder. Are you getting paranoid yet? Put down the scooby snacks and read these clues:
- Hitting that bowl a couple extra times more than you intended to, but what the hell, right?
- Saying you’re gonna quit, but it ain’t happening.
- It becomes a regular part of your life.
- Cravings – for weed, not Cool Ranch Doritos. That’s just a sign you’re toasted.
- Still burning down, although you’re having problems in your career, life, family, socially, school, or a nudge from the judge. If it’s all of the above, you definitely need help, sister!
- Skipping important things because the thought of leaving the house seems like climbing Mt. Everest.
- Stoned while driving, at work, or while being responsible for children.
- Needing more than you used to to get high or thinking your weed delivery service stopped putting as much THC in the gummies to seduce you into buying more, so you call and let them know you’re onto their evil scheme (might’ve been someone we know).
- Withdrawal if you do try to cash out.
- Delusions – but of course you’ll think it’s them, not you.
- Psychosis – see? Told ya.
Rolling it up, yes, it is addictive. If you have a family or personal history of addiction, congratulations, you’re at a higher risk. Don’t pack your bags for Betty Ford just yet. There are plenty of people who can socially burn down now and then, and there are also those who need it daily and it sometimes involves consequences. I’ll chime in and say from personal experience, after spending more than half my life high, for the last seven and a half years of being pot-free, I have a memory like an elephant. Or is pregnancy the elephant reference? I don’t remember. But I’m not pregnant.