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The Controversial Topic: Is Weed Addictive?

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Have you ever wondered if it was possible to get addicted to marijuana? Although we commonly associate cannabis use with therapeutic benefits, it is important to bear in mind that an individual can indeed get addicted to marijuana, particularly THC. So in this article, we’ll discuss what you need to know about weed addiction and withdrawal symptoms.

Defining Marijuana Dependence and Addiction 

Before we jump into understanding weed addiction, I’d like to cover a bit more on the physiology of addiction briefly. Now the science behind marijuana addiction, or any substance addiction, can be pretty perplexing. But to simplify the matter, continuous drug consumption is often driven by the brain’s reward center. When we consume any substance that has a potential rewarding effect, we inevitably change gene expression and neurochemistry in our brain. Perhaps most notably, we increase dopamine into the nucleus accumbens (in the brain) and thus release, thus reinforces our behavior. Dopamine is a chemical produced naturally in the body, and its release plays a significant role in the reward-motivation behavior pathway in all mammalian species. Now a lot of things can increase dopamine release! Sex, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and pretty much anything that makes you feel good. 

Interestingly enough, we don’t have enough research indicating whether or not marijuana is truly an addictive substance due to altered dopamine secretion. Rather, a few different studies have demonstrated that long-term weed use might reduce dopamine secretion in the body, thus resulting in other adverse effects like memory problems, cognitive dysfunction, and more. 

Marijuana Withdrawl Symptoms

I’ve researched and discovered that a chronic marijuana user could face a cannabis withdrawal syndrome after prolonged use. So, how does it work? Long-term marijuana users, particularly those who consistently use high-THC weed, have changed their neurochemistry and thus have adapted to the high cannabis within their system. Take away the weed, and the body begins the process of downregulation, whereby it’s left to adapt to this sudden change. 

There are a few different symptoms often associated with the Marijuana Withdraw Syndrome some key symptoms reported in this study included:

Is CBD Oil Addictive?

In previous articles, we’ve discussed the many different cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. One such cannabinoid of particular interest to researchers is CBD (also known as cannabidiol). Now, unlike delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC, CBD will not elicit psychoactive effects. Instead, it works on different receptors within the body, all of which can lead to therapeutic effects. Since CBD does not place a person in a euphoric mind-state, it seems safe to postulate that it does not entice dopamine release. Hence it does not seem to be addictive. 

So can CBD oil be addictive? Well, the short answer is that it’s implausible. In fact, I did a little digging and found that a systematic review published in 2015 suggested that CBD could be used to help people alleviate addictive behavior associated with tobacco, cocaine, and other opioids.  

The research behind the efficacy of CBD as a means of therapy for drug-seeking behavior was further demonstrated in a 2018 study. Using animal models, scientists concluded that CBD was able to decrease anxiety and prevent impulsive drug-seeking behavior in animal models. 

Delta-8 THC: A Possible Alternative to High-THC Marijuana 

Multiple factors will determine an individual’s risk of marijuana addiction. Among these many factors, we often see that high-THC marijuana, which is marijuana with high levels of delta-9 THC, tends to play an even more significant role in perpetuating addictive behaviors. 

So can this be avoided? Unfortunately, if an individual chooses to use psychoactive substances, then addiction may be inevitable. However, it may be possible to decrease one’s risk of developing cannabis-dependent behaviors through the use of delta-8 THC. 

Delta-8 THC is a synthetic cannabinoid developed through the isomerization of CBD. From a biochemical standpoint, it is very much similar to traditional delta-9 THC. However, the high isn’t as potent! Delta-8 THC is a psychoactive compound, but the high it elicits is a lot more subdued, making it perfect for those who often get overwhelmed by delta-9 THC. This form of marijuana can have many benefits, and theoretically, it seems like the risk of addiction may be lower. So if you’re looking for a great alternative to traditional marijuana, then consider delta-8 THC products instead. 

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