‘Journal of Addiction Medicine’ Suggests Marijuana Addiction is a Reality with New Study

In Drug Addiction September 3rd, 2014 No Comments

Opinions tend to differ on the addictive nature of drugs like marijuana, which is used medically now more than ever. Many people may believe that marijuana is a healing drug with no addictive properties but a recent study suggests that this may not be the case.

According to research conducted by the Massachusetts General Hospital, marijuana proved to cause significant withdrawal symptoms which can represent one of the major signs of addiction. These findings present complications for the argument that marijuana should be used medically to treat a wide range of problems. For those using marijuana for medical or recreational reasons they might end up struggling to quit because they have developed a dependency.

Results of the Study

The new study researched the outcomes of 127 teens ages 14 to 19 that were treated at an outpatient substance abuse clinic. The majority of the teens in the study abused marijuana with 84 percent of those abusing the drug that met criteria for marijuana dependence.  Out of the group of teens, 76 of them dealt with increased tolerance for marijuana and had made unsuccessful attempts to reduce or stop using the drug.

About two fifths of the teens that abused marijuana experienced symptoms of withdrawal after stopping use of the drug.  Any type of withdrawal is known to be a clear sign of drug dependence. The teens dealing with withdrawal were more likely to experience negative consequences such as trouble at school or at work as well as financial and relationship problems.

They were also more likely to meet the guidelines for marijuana dependence and for mood disorders. The teens in the study that were able to recognize that they had a problem with abuse tended to make more progress toward reaching abstinence than those who did not acknowledge their addiction.

Negative Effects of Marijuana

The research found that many of the participants reported symptoms normally associated with withdrawal such as anxiety, irritability, depression and difficulty sleeping. They had to face these symptoms any time they quit using marijuana and many exhibited more extreme symptoms such as the characteristics of mood disorders. Those involved in the study hope that their research helps to increase the amount of evidence showing that marijuana is a psychoactive drug just like any other drug.

The findings of the study could impact how people perceive marijuana and the effects that it has on the minds and bodies of adolescents. It could also prove instrumental in the larger health policy debate around marijuana. The trend in attitudes in the U.S. is to minimize the risk of marijuana use and refuse to recognize its addictiveness. The results of the study could change people’s minds about how beneficial marijuana can be as a medical solution. The debate over legalization requires this type of information so that people will be more informed about the public health impact if marijuana use becomes legal.

The study was published recently in the ‘Journal of Addiction Medicine’ and was conducted in order to better understand the risks and harms associated with marijuana use including its potential addictiveness. The findings of the study can be useful in helping people to recognize the risks involved in using marijuana and also reduce the likelihood that someone would start using drugs.

If marijuana is legalized, the public needs to be more aware of the dangers of becoming addicted as the drug grows in availability. The study also points to the need to educate adolescents about the consequences of marijuana use on their health and their lives. The consequences should be weighed against any positive outcomes associated with decriminalizing marijuana. 

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