Monday, August 22, 2011
DEPENDENCE vs ADDICTION in Cannabis Users
Is Pot Addictive?
The answer to this question has eluded mankind for nearly one hundred years!
Prior to that, marijuana was not illegal, nor considered an addictive or harmful substance; at least, not by the U.S. government’s standards. Alcohol was the bane of society in the early 1900’s as prohibitionists marched in the streets, many of them quietly addicted to Opioid Tonics freely available from the corner druggist.
As with anything, the answer to the question depends on the presumed definition.
Addiction is a psychological state in which the object of addiction can be any number of drugs, actions, or substances. Calling cannabis addicting in this context is NOT telling the truth, but is a trick of semantics in a society where food has become the most common and dangerous addiction.
Dependence is a physical state in which the object of dependence causes enough physical distress as to make the user continue their addiction even through obvious deleterious consequences. Nicotine has been cited as causing the greatest dependence in humans.
Cannabis does not cause physical addiction or create a physical dependence. There are no dependency-causing chemicals in Cannabis. Any physical discomfort felt by a cannabis user on cessation is psychological.
Although Cannabis can cause psychological addiction, so can any substance or human action: Prohibiting marijuana for a psychological addiction is like criminalizing dice for gambling disorders.
Unlike opiates (Heroin, Morphine), cocaine (Crack), benzos (Xanax), nicotine, and alcohol, Cannabis carries no risk of physical addiction, and has no substances that create a physical addiction. A psychologically addicted user may report anxiety upon "withdrawal"; any "withdrawal" symptoms are purely psychological. Although many studies have proved this, the argument of addiction is one of semantics and medical terminology, as well as ICD-9/10 (Diagnosis) coding.
Cannabis cannot create the condition of "drug dependence"; however, cannabis can create "drug abuse", as can a can of hairspray and a package of bath salts.
Prohibition has not stopped the use, recreational or medical, of marijuana. Cannabis is freely trafficked into the United States from Mexico by violent, dangerous and warring cartels. Although billions have been spent, US Federal forces such as the DEA, INS, and ICE have been unsuccessful in stopping the influx of low-grade cannabis into the United States. This “Schwag” has no medicinal value, and is cheap and widely available and easy to get, especially for the young. Even IF the Feds got their way, and all of the progress in medical cannabis was reversed, the cartels will assure that their brand of blood stained pot is on American streets. Wouldn’t it be better if the sick, suffering, and dying had access to clean, quality Cannabis, safely and transparently available, and prescribed specific to symptomology?
The Green Association for Sustainability
BLS, MLS, CPC