Can weed be addictive? Yes. All substances with psychoactive (mind-altering) effects, including cannabis, can lead to addiction. Physically and psychologically, people have very different reactions to cannabis – depending on their genetics, their mental and physical health, their history and whether they mix weed with other drugs.
Will everyone who tries weed get addicted? No. It’s the same with alcohol, cocaine, ecstasy, benzodiazepines, amphetamines and even opioids like heroin and codeine. Not everyone develops a harmful or self-destructive habit – because there are many factors that influence your likelihood of getting addicted, not just the chemical and biological effects of the substance.
So, how do you know if your weed use is addictive? In this blog, we’ll cover the signs of cannabis addiction and what causes it.
Is Weed Addictive for You? – 20 Questions about Cannabis Addiction
Here are some questions to help you identify if weed is addictive for you. It’s useful to consider each question for a few moments, thinking of specific examples from your life. For example, for question 1, you might answer: ‘yes, I always crave a joint straight after work’ or ‘no, I can easily go a month at a time not using cannabis’.
- Do you crave weed or feel like you can’t function without it?
- Do you get upset or angry if anything or anyone stops you using weed?
- Is it hard to relax without cannabis?
- Have you increased the amount of cannabis you use, to get the same effect?
- If you run out of weed, how do you feel – particularly if it’s hard to get more?
- Have you lost anything important to you because of weed – a job, a friendship or relationship, financial security?
- If someone questions your weed habit, how do you feel and react?
- Do you find it hard to socialise with people who don’t smoke weed?
- Do you avoid places where you can’t use cannabis?
- Do you take holidays abroad without access to cannabis? If so, do you enjoy them?
- Have you ever taken weed on holidays abroad with you – to ensure you have a supply while you’re away?
- Do you justify other illegal activities connected with using weed – such as driving after smoking cannabis, stealing to buy weed, exposing children and young people to cannabis or selling drugs?
- Does life seem boring, unsatisfactory or meaningless without weed?
- Do you worry who you will be without cannabis?
- Have you ever tried to stop using weed? How did it go?
- Is cannabis affecting your physical health?
- Do you experience anxiety, depression, paranoia, suicidal thoughts or other symptoms of mental illness on a regular basis?
- Does your GP or health worker know how much weed you smoke –particularly if you are seeking medical help for another health condition?
- Do you lie to friends, family or colleagues about your use of weed?
- Do you get more cannabis in to deal with difficult life events – such as a bereavement, a relationship break up or stress at work?
For a thorough addiction assessment and cannabis treatment options, please call Addiction Helper today. Family and close friends are also welcome to get in touch.
What Causes Weed Addiction?
Are people born with addictive tendencies? Or does weed addiction develop simply through repeated use of cannabis? Why can one person smoke a lot of weed, then give up easily – but another person uses much less but still gets addicted?
Cannabis addiction is influenced by many factors – including chemical, biological, psychological, environmental and experiential factors. We’ll summarise the most common ones here:
The effects of the substance(s) you’re using: as with all drugs, cannabis comes in different forms, it’s taken in different ways and the strength varies greatly (including the levels of the psychoactive ingredient, THC). In recent years, cannabis has been engineered to produce much stronger strains. With regular exposure to increasingly potent cannabis, you are more likely to experience unwanted side effects – including addiction.
Genetics: Researchers have identified that genetic variants predispose some people to weed addiction – including experiencing powerful cravings to use weed and unpleasant withdrawals symptoms.
Family history of addiction: The environment you grow up in influences your beliefs and values – including your attitude to using drugs like cannabis. Growing up with an addicted parent, for example, could influence you to take drugs yourself (or steer clear). Being in a relationship with an aggressive partner could be one factor in addictive weed use – as a way to cope or escape.
Trauma: Neglect or abuse in childhood, sexual violence, serious accidents or life-changing injuries, domestic violence, bereavement and bullying don’t cause addiction in themselves – but they can create the emotional states in which addiction can thrive. If you’re isolated with little or no support, substance or process addictions can seem like the only answer.
How young you are when you first use cannabis: the earlier you use weed, the more likely it will become an addiction. Teenagers who use cannabis regularly, whilst their brain is still developing, are at greater risk of mental health issues and addiction. Peer group pressure is also a factor in why young people try and continue using cannabis.
Mental/ physical illness: Some people begin smoking weed, or increase their use, to self-medicate a health condition – such as depression, PTSD, chronic pain or insomnia. While the medicinal use of cannabis has been debated for years, it’s important to understand that this is still an under-researched area. Furthermore, medicinal cannabis is not the same as recreational or street cannabis, in terms of the ratio of cannabidiol (CBD) to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Is Weed Addictive? – Cannabis Withdrawal Symptoms
Physical signs of cannabis withdrawal/ excessive use include:
- Stomach pains
- Changes in appetite
- Weight loss or weight gain
Psychological signs of cannabis withdrawal/ excessive use include:
- Mood swings
- Aggression or frequent irritability
- Lack of motivation
- Difficulty concentrating/ brain fog
- Memory loss or impairment
Is Weed Addictive? – It’s Your Call
When it comes to seeking out help for cannabis addiction, most people reach a place where they’re at least partially aware of negative consequences. They start to seek out information and support about weed because it’s causing difficulties in their life. If you’re worried about cannabis, Addiction Helper can talk you through treatment options in the UK and abroad.
We also arrange addiction interventions, where family or close friends wish to confront a loved one safely about their cannabis addiction. An intervention aims to encourage your relative to accept further treatment and support.
We are here when you are ready to talk about treatment for weed addiction – please call or message us in confidence.