If you ask around, you will undoubtedly find people on both side of the fence when it comes to the question of whether or not marijuana is chemically addictive. There are those who are convinced that marijuana does cause a chemical dependency. Others believe that users only become psychologically addicted to marijuana. Yet, current evidence supports the fact that marijuana is not chemically addictive. However, this doesn’t mean that users will not become addicted in other ways and need to seek treatment for their addiction.
The main active chemical in marijuana is THC, which causes cellular reactions in the body that cause the drug high users seek to experience. However, THC also causes negative side effects as well such as increased heart rate and anxiety, and difficulty thinking.
THC changes the way that the brain’s hippocampus can process information. The hippocampus is responsible for learning, memory and emotions. Unfortunately, long term marijuana use can cause damage to the brain. While THC has negative effects on the body, it has not been proven to be chemically addictive.
Further, when marijuana addicts are not able to get the drug, they will experience significant physiological withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms include headaches, depression and irritation. Therefore, in many cases marijuana rehab and treatment is a necessity.
Some people wonder why there are drug rehab centers at all if marijuana isn’t addictive. There are a variety of reasons for this fact. First of all, those who are addicted to marijuana often have a lifestyle that is tied in with the drug. Researchers have speculated that those with a marijuana addiction are actually addicted to the high that the drug produces in their brain.
Due, in part, to the fact that marijuana isn’t chemically addictive, historically, there have been fewer treatment centers. However, marijuana users do indeed need help getting off drugs, just as users of any other drug would. Many people who try to quit marijuana have such a hard time doing so that they do indeed feel as though it must be chemically addictive!
Although the evidence to date supports the idea that marijuana creates a psychological and social dependency rather than one that is chemically based, the court is still out. Researchers continue to conduct studies on the impact of marijuana on the brain and the body. Therefore, it is possible that in the future we will discover more evidence about the addictive nature of marijuana of which we are not currently aware.