Can Marihuana be Addictive?
Those who still think MTV is relevant saw the artist formerly known as Hannah Montana light up a joint onstage during the network’s Europe Music Awards this past Sunday. Of course, the only thing Miley Cyrus is addicted to is attention. However, fellow pop-star Lady Gaga has recently gone on record saying that she was addicted to marihuana. The question is whether that actually has a basis on reality, or if it’s just like Michael Douglas claiming that oral sex gave him throat cancer.
Weed has been a very polarizing substance; people who defend it say that it doesn’t make people violent, doesn’t cause withdrawal, it’s not a gateway drug, and can make Jim Carrey actually seem funny. Opponents, on the other hand, characterize users as burnt-out, unproductive slackers who spend the entire day eating Cheetos and laughing like idiots. How much of that is scientifically-backed and how much is anecdotal evidence, in both camps? Pot does indeed not cause withdrawal symptoms the way opioids that lead to tolerance like heroin do, but that doesn’t mean that chronic smokers don’t experience adverse effects when trying to quit.
A chronic smoker, which is not the same as a smoker of chronic, is one who smokes at least once a day. Such a smoker may have trouble sleeping, and be irritable and anxious when trying to quit. Now imagine how Gaga must have felt, if she actually did smoke 15-20 daily joints, like she said she used to. In the vein of other artists like film director Kevin Smith, Gaga says she uses weed to enhance her creativity. However, she also said that she tends to escalate to other substances when the high she gets is negligible.
Though Origins Recovery Center in South Padre Island, Texas co-founder Ben Levenson doesn’t consider pot a gateway drug per se, he does say it has potential for cross addiction. In fact, many of the people who come to the Origins center are addicted to another drug in addition to marihuana. In summary, is marihuana as dangerous as other illicit drugs? No, and the facts that its recreational use has been legalized in Colorado and Washington, and that there are medical marihuana clinics in 20 states attest to that. Is it addictive? Yes, in the sense that addiction patterns have been observed in users, including inability to abstain from using, behavioral impairment, cravings and diminished recognition of chronic, increasing problems, as well as social and financial ramifications.
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