Could Marijuana Be Another Addiction?

The article below was written by Wes Boyd is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Cambridge Health Alliance/Harvard Medical School and on the faculty at the Center for Bioethics at Harvard Medical School. He teaches medical ethics and human rights at Harvard Medical School and also teaches a freshman seminar in Harvard College titled “Psychology of Religion.” He is the author of the book, Almost Addicted, which won the Will Solemine Award for Excellence in Medical Writing from the New England American Medical Writer’s Association.

This article was published before the legalization of marijuana in most US states. Although the information in this article is not necessarily the opinion of NationalAddictionNews, now do we back the article’s author, I do think that the references to studies done are very compelling and must be noted. I also firmly adhere to the fact that smoking and vaping marijuana are more dangerous than smoking cigarettes.  Furthermore, I believe in using the RAW marijuana for the ultimate healing purposes, which has no psychoactive effect whatsoever, as it has THCA, which is natural to the plant which does not have the mind altering THC.  THC occurs only after the plant is heated or processed. So, THC, despite contrary beliefs, is NOT natural to the marijuana.  In a future post, I will be dealing with that as well.  Whether THC adds to the healing effects of marijuana is best left in the testimonies by those who have been healed using it.  There are not scientific studies showing this, however,  So, presently, there are no controlled studies to prove that the THC adds any benefit.  I do NOT consider a ‘high’ as a benefit… just another addiction and another means of escape. So, please read the article below with an open mind.  I like to present both sides to every story.  It is between the lines where you can find the truth. Personally, I love my brain the way God designed it and don’t enjoy being loopy! I want to be in full control!

A word to the wise: Don’t vape it! Don’t smoke it! Don’t use it if you’re under 30 years of age! Don’t  use it at all if you’re only after the ‘high’. CBD offers the same healing without the mind altering high.

In my psychiatric practice I see a lot of adolescents and young adults, many of whom smoke marijuana.  Almost to a person they will tell me that marijuana is harmless and hasn’t caused any problems in their life.  To bolster their claim they will often add that if marijuana were harmful, why have two states legalized it and another handful of states made it legal to use medicinally. And almost to a person they will add the clencher:  “Besides, marijuana is all-natural.”

Before I go on, I will offer two caveats to try to ensure that people don’t misinterpret what follows.  First, despite being legal, I believe that alcohol is moderately to much worse than marijuana in most respects.  And second, I think our country’s war on drugs is largely misguided and a waste of resources.

With those disclaimers out of the way, I now want to state unequivocally that marijuana is not the harmless, safe substance many might like to think, especially for those under age 30.  Why?  Because neuroscience has now shown us that the brain continues to develop until the late 20s, and using drugs while the brain is still developing can influence how it develops and result in moderate to potentially significant downstream problematic effects.

When adolescents use marijuana, for example, the white matter of their brains can undergo changes that are similar to the brains of individuals with schizophrenia. Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that marijuana smoking in adolescence significantly increases the risk for eventually becoming psychotic and/or developing schizophrenia. This risk is even greater for people who had psychiatric symptoms before their first experience with marijuana and those with schizophrenia in their families.

And furthermore, more and more data are confirming the fact that marijuana users are also at increased risk for developing anxiety and depression later in their lives, as well as having memory deficits.

Suppose someone wants to comfort himself by saying that he only smokes once in a while—in what I might call the “almost addicted” range—and that therefore he is not at any increased risk for developing psychiatric issues as a result of marijuana use?  Data show that even using marijuana occasionally can carry with it an increased risk of psychiatric disorders.  For example, a Swedish study found a 70-percent increased risk of becoming schizophrenic for those who’d used marijuana just five to 10 times over their lifetime.  These same researchers found that those who’d used marijuana more than 50 times in their life had a  more than 600-percent increased risk of schizophrenia.

And it is not just psychiatric problems that can result from marijuana use.  The vast majority of young marijuana users I have seen—and I grant that I might see a skewed sample in my medical practice—have seen their academic performance drop concomitantly with their marijuana use, their athletic prowess diminish, and difficulties within their families rise.

Marijuana is also potentially addictive.  But even for those who do not progress to become addicted to marijuana, there is a realm between the casual user and the full-on addict that I label “almost addicted”–folks who don’t meet anyone’s definition of addiction but who might be having difficulties in their life as a result of their drug use nonetheless.

There is much more that I might write—and will in following posts—but suffice it to say that being “all-natural” does not mean that marijuana is safe and harmless.  After all, the two biggest killers in our midst—namely tobacco and alcohol—are in and of themselves all natural substances.

The original article can be found HERE.

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8 thoughts on “Could Marijuana Be Another Addiction?

  1. I’m happy to hear that!!! The hard way is the only way, right? Every one of us who were once addicted and became unchained, didn’t do it because we wanted to – we did it because the situation became so grave that we had to.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I meant it in a derogatory way. :). I like getting high, but I can’t do it anymore… I have lost too many things… its not worth it anymore. learnt the hard way


  3. For sure, I am the king of highs. I would do anything to get high. But when I did smoke pot. I was off a different temperance. So that must have helped. What I meant was from a dependency perspective. I became physically dependent on alcohol and cigarettes. But I never felt that with marijuana. May be out was just me.


  4. I hear you and you’re certainly entitled to your opinion; however, anything that a person depends on to change their state of mind is an addiction. It is not normal behavior to get high. Getting high for the sake of getting high is addictive behavior. There are people who can’t sleep without getting high… or can’t go to work without getting high… or cannot face social situations without getting high… etc. We are given, by God, an innate normal rational mind that has natural ways of coping.


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