We can say that dependence is a compulsive, involuntary need to take any substance (for example, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, etc.), or to perform some specific activities (gambling, computers, sex, work, etc.).
Drug dependence is divided into two types. The first one is physical (somatic) dependence, when a human body requires a certain substance and increases it`s dose to function properly. At the time when the substance is no longer ingested, withdrawal symptoms (nausea, convulsions, etc.) appear which can be different depending on the substance.
The dependence is mainly connected with the excessive and regular use of a substance, necessity and even obsession, as well as with non-voluntary use. Also, the dependence is associated with a number of negative consequences to a person`s life, whether it is his/her health, mental state or social life. It is typically for addiction that a person cannot stop using the substance, even if he wants to. Marijuana does not cause physical dependence, according to a recent study. If a person stops using marijuana the physical signs of the dependence won`t be significant (insomnia or indigestion). But the psychological dependence on marijuana is a more serious problem. If people stop using this substance they could suffer from depression, loss of appetite, anxiety. Thus, marijuana causes psychological dependence.
The risk of marijuana addiction is not high; however, the results of some studies vary greatly. According to Ivan Dowd, the founder of DROP IN organization, the risk of marijuana addiction is much lower than alcohol addiction, and this probability is about 4% for the general population. Data from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction shows that almost 1% of European population use cannabis daily; the U.S. has almost identical rate.
Data of marijuana dependence vary significantly. Some articles tell us that half of those who try marijuana become dependent. Of course it is a false. According to it, from 5 to 12% of people are marijuana dependent. Other sources say that 8-10% of people are addicted.
Lots of institutions deal with marijuana dependence. The most cited is Marihuana Anonymous (MA), which has compiled a list of 12 questions to help identify possible addiction to marijuana.
Has smoking pot stopped being fun?Do you ever get high alone?Is it hard for you to imagine a life without marijuana?Do you find that your friends are determined by your marijuana use?Do you smoke marijuana to avoid dealing with your problems?Do you smoke pot to cope with your feelings?Does your marijuana use let you live in a privately defined world?Have you ever failed to keep promises you made about cutting down or controlling your dope smoking?Has your use of marijuana caused problems with memory, concentration, or motivation?When your stash is nearly empty, do you feel anxious or worried about how to get more?Do you plan your life around your marijuana use?Have friends or relatives ever complained that your pot smoking is damaging your relationship with them?
According to MA, those who answered one or more questions positively are likely to have marijuana addiction; the more positive answers, the greater the risk of psychological dependence on marijuana. If somebody tries to stop using marijuana and fails, it is a clear sign of addiction. World Health Organization (WHO) has compiled a similar list of 9 questions. According to it, you are marijuana addicted if you answered yes at least 3 of them.
Drugs used in a shorter period of time and in larger amounts than expected
Unsuccessful attempts to stop drug consumption, a strong desire and drug cravings
Spending a lot of time on drugs purchase
Intoxication or withdrawal syndrome
A person prefers drugs instead of an activity or relationship
Continued use, even with the understanding of harm that a person causes to himself or others
The amount of substance required to achieve the same effect increases gradually
Typical withdrawal syndrome
The use of drugs to prevent withdrawal syndrome
However, these questions do not determine the frequency of drug use. In the interdisciplinary research monograph Drugs and Drug Addiction you can find the definition of a casual user and a regular user. For a casual user drugs became a part of life, but he/she does not use it more than once a week, and as a result this use does not lead to dependence or other problems. This is typical for marijuana, LSD and ecstasy. Regular use (more than once a week) is usually not the way of life, but also adverse effects, the degree of which depends on the substance used.
Dependence of each person is different and has its own individual character. It is usually demonstrated by daily use of marijuana. Another indicator is taking drugs alone. Smoking of marijuana, as well as the consumption of many other drugs, is a social action, and once it is lost we can talk about addiction.
Smoking marijuana just after waking up, as heavy smokers usually do, is another symptom of addiction. Already mentioned withdrawal syndrome is also typical. As already mentioned, the physical symptoms of marijuana dependence are not serious, but psychological dependence symptoms are worse – depression, anxiety, loss of interest. A marijuana dependent person loses the motivation to participate in public life and to fulfill obligations, whether in school or at work. Also those who have been smoking marijuana for a long time lose their self-confidence.
Smoking marijuana leads to many health hazards. These include acute and chronic bronchitis, respiratory tract disease, susceptibility to lungs diseases, the overall decline in the immune system and cancer risk. It is also known about the negative impact on short-term memory and concentration, but, according to most studies, these ill-health are temporary and not permanent. After stop using marijuana memory and concentration become normal. Marijuana consumption during pregnancy was proved to be negative for baby.
If reading this article you`ve understood that the use of marijuana has exceeded reasonable limits and you are already addicted, it would be right to address this problem. If you think that your dependence is not very serious, begin with reducing use frequency (do not to smoke during the day and wait until the evening), and ideally take a break for at least a week, though the recommended time is one month since it is enough to remove substances from the body completely. Experienced smokers do regular breaks to reduce tolerance to marijuana and thereby reduce the dose required to achieve the desired state, as well as to control consumption.
There are no medications (except vitamins) during the withdrawal process in special care institutions. The most important thing is to change the lifestyle of a drug-addicted person. So it is very good when a person begins to exercise (in any form) as during exercise the body produces its own \”drug\” called endorphins. Endorphins cause a state of euphoria, sometimes it called \”natural drug\”. It enhances mood, so a person can easily overcome the grief and loss of appetite.
Sports can become a suitable substitute for marijuana. In the worst case, abstinence from marijuana leads to increased consumption of alcohol or cigarettes, because a drug-addicted person must find a replacement. This should be avoided. If you want to stop using marijuana, but you are afraid that you would not handle it by yourself, try to involve your friends. Make a bet! Start avoiding questionable companies and places where you used to use the substance. However, if it\’s not helping it\’s time to seek professional help.