Marijuana use and addiction has been on the rise in the U.S. Several states have legalized marijuana for both medical and recreational use. Marijuana use is also glorified in pop culture, such as musicians talking highly of the substance in their lyrics. There is also a deeply ingrained myth within cannabis culture that claims marijuana isn’t ‘physically’ addictive, but rather is only ‘mentally’ addictive or habit forming. The truth is that marijuana addiction is prevalent among users and can be addictive just like any other drug.
As a parent, the challenge lies in presenting kids with an accurate picture of the risks involved with marijuana addiction. While talking to your children is important, it’s also very important to seek professional assistance if you or your child are dependent on marijuana. In our 10-week Intensive Outpatient Program, we not only address and recover from the addiction itself, but we also provide necessary tools to address commonly reported co-occuring disorders, such as anxiety and insomnia.
In this article, we will address common myths regarding marijuana use that many young adults use to support their pro-cannabis stances.
Myth #1: That Marijuana Isn’t Physically Addictive
The reason why so many adults end up seeking treatment for habitual marijuana use is that it has the same propensity for addiction as any other substance. The average adult seeking treatment for marijuana addiction is a near-daily user for an average of 10 years Adults make an average of six serious attempts at quitting before finally trying drug counseling. Individuals addicted to marijuana continue to smoke despite admitting that it causes relationship and family problems, financial stress, dissatisfaction with productivity levels, low life satisfaction, and sleep and memory problems.
Myth #2: Many People Who Smoke Aren’t Addicted
A person’s tendency for addiction is largely determined by genetic factors that are then amplified by environmental factors such as common life stresses and nutrition. People with a predisposition for addiction share certain characteristics regarding brain chemistry. With marijuana, addicted individuals tend to have issues regulating the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine influences focus, drive, and determination. It also induces feelings of well-being when introduced to the brain in high doses as it is with marijuana use.
Explain to your kids that some people can smoke nearly every day without getting addicted because their brain chemistry doesn’t become altered by the drug long term. You never know that you’re addicted until your brain fails to produce enough dopamine on its own. The brain thinks, “Hey, I’m getting plenty of dopamine from an outside source now, so I don’t need to produce it on my own.” When the addicted individual tries to stop, their dopamine-starved brain craves more of the drug. However, many users still do not realize that they have a problem with drugs.
Myth #3: Marijuana Has Been Legalized In Several States, So It Can’t Be That Bad
The decision to legalize marijuana on the state level is influenced by many factors. One thing is for sure: marijuana doesn’t become legalized because it’s determined to be safer than previously thought. Marijuana still has the same potential for addiction and is carcinogenic when smoked.
For anyone under the age of 21, marijuana is still illegal in all states. It can be helpful to remind your kids that ‘minor in possession’ charges still apply, as they do with alcohol.
If your child is of driving age, remind them that they can absolutely receive a drug DUI for marijuana, just as they could receive a DUI for alcohol consumption. Marijuana lingers in the system of certain individuals longer than it does others. Compared to alcohol, it’s hard to know exactly how long testable levels will remain in your system. Because marijuana is fat-soluble, it takes longer for blood levels to sink below the drivable limit if you have a higher body fat percentage.
Myth #4: Addressing The Prevalence of Marijuana Use In Music and Counterculture Scenes
Musicians and performers often heavily promote drug use in their music. While many artists do live the lives they portray, for most, the glorification of illicit activities is used as propaganda. Many admit in interviews that they over-exaggerate their drug use because they know it will result in better sales. It can be helpful to remind your children about the reality of drug glorification as a marketing strategy.
Myth #5: “I’ve Smoked Plenty of Times and I Don’t Have Cravings or Withdrawals”
Drug dependence can develop gradually, and this is certainly true for marijuana. Early withdrawal symptoms and cravings are less noticeable because the effects of the drug are milder compared to other recreational substances. Users experience very little ‘comedown’ as the marijuana high wears off, and it may be a week or longer before your brain starts to itch for more of the drug.
Myth #6: Marijuana Isn’t Expensive
Marijuana is one of the most affordable drugs to purchase, both legally and illegally. When marijuana was first legalized in Washington State, there was concern that the high taxes would make marijuana too expensive, but the opposite effect has happened. Marijuana is now significantly more affordable than it used to be. Over time, however, the frequent marijuana consumption adds up and becomes expensive as it’s accessibility increases. Just as it’s true for legal substances such as alcohol, marijuana can be considered a financial stressor in certain circumstances.
Myth #7: Marijuana Isn’t as Bad For The Lungs as Cigarettes
While several studies have been done to compare the carcinogenic effects of marijuana to those of tobacco, no conclusive evidence exists to say that one is worse than the other. The truth is, the cancer-causing effects depend on the frequency of use. If you frequently smoke large amounts of marijuana, it’s undoubtedly a risk to your lung health. Although the scientific evidence of the carcinogenic effects of cigarettes vs. marijuana is inconclusive, it still should not be used as an argument supporting the use of marijuana. Rather, it should be argued that ingesting any foreign substance into your body should be considered hazardous to your health.
Marijuana use is often thought of being significantly less dangerous to experiment with than alcohol or other drugs, however, this is not the case. Although marijuana is generally thought to be the “basic” type of drug, the possibility for dependence is just the same as it is for other substances. However, the conversation should not be based solely on marijuana use, but based on alcohol and drug use in general. By explaining to young adults that all illicit drugs, including marijuana, have a great propensity for dependence and addiction, it allows them to understand the extreme risks of alcohol and/or drug use in general.
If you have any further questions regarding drug or alcohol addiction, Stonewall Institute Treatment Center is more than happy to answer any questions you may have. Call us today at 602-535-6468 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.