Marijuana has a reputation for being harmless and danger-free. However, it too can create damage in one’s life. Certainly, its effects are minor compared to cocaine for instance. But, research shows that regular marijuana use can lead to addiction and other ill effects. Although marijuana alone does not usually require detox, like cocaine would, it can create other harmful effects in one’s life with regular use of the drug over time.

In fact, if you take a look at the five foundations of addiction, you will see that it’s possible to develop an addiction to marijuana. Over the years, experts have able to uncover certain patterns of addiction in their patients. These patterns, listed below, can point to the presence of addiction. Exploring these in relation to the use of marijuana, it’s easy to see how someone could develop an addiction to marijuana.

Fantasy: When there is an overwhelming amount of thinking, worrying, and dreaming about drinking or getting high, there’s an indication that there might be an addiction. With addiction, you’re not only getting high, but you’re thinking about getting high and you’re planning your day around getting high. Fantasizing and daydreaming about your drug of choice frequently accompanies addiction.

Self-Nurturing: The self-nurturing aspect of addiction is its illusion. Although a person is choosing to engage in drinking or drugging on seemingly his or her own terms, he or she is doing it at times when there’s a need for self-nurturing. When the stress is high, that’s the time to go to the bar. When the argument begins, that’s when to pull out the marijuana. Addiction arises partly out of a need for self-nurturing.

Self-Medicating:  Those who are using drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism for strong emotions or to function better are known to be self-medicating. However, most individuals who self-medicate do so unintentionally. Those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol are often looking for relief from challenging emotions or for a way to better function at home or at work.

False Sense of Control: Most addicts believe that drinking or using drugs is a way of controlling their life. Drinking can help cope with life’s stresses – this is a thought that often accompanies addiction. However, this is far from being true. What an addiction does is withhold one’s power. Instead of facing challenges head on, the powerless choice is to avoid it with drugs or alcohol. Instead of facing marital issues, for instance, it’s easier to drink. But this robs one of his or her autonomy and can only exacerbate life’s challenges.  Furthermore, if an individual is setting up his or her day to drink or use drugs, such as the fantasizing described above, then it perhaps the drug itself has the control and not the other way around.

Self Destruction: No matter the addiction is always a pattern of destruction. In fact, addiction not only destroys the life around you – relationships, career, physical health, and so on – it’s also destroying yourself. Of course, an addiction to marijuana might not create destruction as quickly and readily as cocaine, but there continue to be signs of negative effects on one’s life with marijuana as well.

According to the Los Angeles Times, 9% of people who use the drug develop an addiction to it. Research also indicates that the earlier a person begins to use the drug, the more likely he or she will become dependent on it. Also, dependency will develop within two years for 17% of those who began smoking marijuana at ages 14 or 15. Furthermore, regular marijuana use can double their risks of experiencing psychotic symptoms and disorders, especially if they have a personal or family history of psychotic disorders, and if they start using cannabis in their mid-teens. Some marijuana users are more likely to use other illicit drugs, and those whose use began in adolescence and continued throughout young adulthood can later experience intellectual impairment.

Regular marijuana is in fact dangerous, disproving the common belief that it’s harmless.

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