Can Marijuana be Addicting in Teens?
The question of whether or not marijuana is addictive can be framed in more than one way. Can users withdraw when they want? Are there withdrawal symptoms if intake is suddenly discontinued? What should show that a user is psychologically addicted?
Well, marijuana is slightly different from the other addictive drugs. While a user is likely to experience subtle withdrawal symptoms when he or she suddenly stops using the drug – irritability and anxiety among others – these symptoms are usually only mild compared to benzodiazepines and opiates. For example, a user of cocaine who suddenly quits usually suffers greatly increased pulse rates, high blood pressure, becomes dramatically uncontrollable and may even have seizures and die.
However, that it’s effects are mild in comparison to other drugs does not mean it is not addictive. Addiction doesn’t just mean being physically dependent on a substance; addiction is characterized by compulsion where users become partially out of control often resulting in severity and intensity.
What Causes Addiction to Marijuana?
Dependence on the drug is most common in heavy users. Continual use often results in increased tolerance which slowly produces pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic changes. Pharmacokinetics determines how the drug is absorbed, distributed, and even how it is metabolized and excreted. Pharmacodynamics defines how the drug interacts with target cells. These changes often require that the user increase doses to achieve a common desirable effect.
Are There Risk Factors of Addiction?
There is ongoing research on factors that might increase the risks of cannabis addiction with frequency of use and age being targeted. Evidence shows that frequent use at a young age is one of the risk factors. Other factors include affiliation with peers who use drugs and emotional distress. Adolescents are at even higher risk because they are at a stage in life when the brain is still developing. They may suffer poor neural development which leads to cognitive malfunctioning.
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