Before we answer this question, let’s clarify exactly what we’re asking. The question is whether or not THC is addictive—not whether marijuana should be legalized. That’s an important distinction to make, so as not to deter readers from learning, understanding, and accepting the answer: Yes, THC is addictive. Marijuana is addictive.
What Is THC?
THC—or 9-tetrahydrocannabinol—is the principal psychoactive constituent of the cannabis plant. THC is not the only cannabinoid sought out by medicinal or recreational marijuana users, but its effects characterize the “high” that most of the latter, and much of the former, are seeking.
Along with the neurological mechanisms that influence memory, thought concentration, and sensory perception, THC also disrupts the chemical neurotransmitters linked to feelings of pleasure. This can lead marijuana users to smoke habitually and, eventually, become addicted to THC.
There are varying opinions as to just how addictive THC can be, but most experts agree that the drug is addictive to some degree, and that its addictive potential increases with the level and consistency of use.
Is THC Addiction Psychological?
Primarily, yes. Nobody needs the presence of THC in their body to function normally, and any physical withdrawal symptoms—loss of appetite, stomach problems, restlessness—are minimal and short-lived.
However, the psychological aspect of a THC addiction—cravings and compulsive use—can be incredibly strong. Those who have trouble quitting marijuana despite repeated attempts are typically the ones who use the drug to self-medicate. Ridding the body of THC can cause underlying psychological issues to manifest in the form of depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and so on.
Many people only consider drug addiction to be “real” if it’s physical. If this attitude reflected reality, hardly any crack, meth, or heroin addicts would relapse after detox. The distinction between psychological and physical withdrawal is important for developing treatment techniques, but when it comes to determining whether an addiction is legitimate, it’s a moot point. Addiction is a partly a psychological disease—a disease of willpower, decision-making, and mood regulation.
If you’ve been struggling with marijuana addiction/withdrawal for some time now, you should consider a treatment program of some sort. To learn about your options here at The Last Resort and which may be best for you, give us a call at 512.575.4071.