Evidence Suggests Cannabis Addiction Affects 10 Per Cent of Users – LPC

Dr. Jonathan Stea said cannabis addiction is real and affects about 10 per cent of users.
Dr. Jonathan Stea said cannabis addiction is real and affects about 10 per cent of users.

Addiction psychologist Dr. Jonathan Stea finds it “frustrating” when people say there is no such thing as cannabis addiction.

“I think it’s been a popular misconception that cannabis is not physically addicting,” said the Calgary-based doctor. “We have an endocannabinoid system, and it’s very well-established that cannabis withdrawal can occur.”

In fact, about 10 per cent of users will develop a cannabis addiction, Stea said. That is low compared to nicotine and alcohol. Recovery is easier too, compared to other substances.

“I’d rather be helping someone manage a cannabis addiction than an alcohol addiction or a heroin addiction because I’m less scared they’re going to die. That said, at the individual level, when somebody is managing a cannabis addiction, that’s not to be taken lightly, either.”

For example Danielle, a Halifax university student, decided to quit cannabis after severe bouts of cannabis vomiting syndrome. When Danielle found it difficult to stop with symptoms such as anxiety, she realized she had a cannabis addiction.

“In my eyes, addiction is when you want to stop using a substance but you find that you’re unable to,” Danielle said.

Why Do People Refuse to Acknowledge the Risk? – LPC

There are many reasons why people will deny that cannabis addiction even exists. For one, it’s become part of the cannabis battleground. Those who want to legalize cannabis say it isn’t, and those who don’t want cannabis legalization say it is. Also, people tend to downplay or deny their addictions for fear of stigma, embarrassment, and other reasons.

But the overwhelming reason that cannabis addiction isn’t well known is that there simply isn’t enough research. Even former US surgeon general Jocelyn Elders claimed that “Marijuana is not addictive, not physically addictive anyway.”

In March, the same Dr. Stea warned against people who believed cannabis is the solution to the opioid crisis. There simply isn’t enough evidence there too. CBD remedies are gaining acceptance, but many doctors are still hesitant to prescribe or recommend medical cannabis simply because there are too many gaps in knowledge. Research will take time, including research into cannabis addiction. But now that cannabis is legalized, cannabis research will be a lot easier to do.

This editorial content from the LPC News Editor is meant to provide analysis, insight, and perspective on current news articles. To read the source article this LPC commentary is based upon, please click on the link below.

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  1. gerald mac pherson

    My personal opinion is that cannabis is not addictive, however I have many friends who smoke almost all day, every day. I believe it to be more of a lifestyle choice, rather than an addiction, I started smoking Marijuana in 1971 when I was in grade 8. I went to a Catholic High school for gr 9 and 1/2 of gr 10. There was no marijuana available at the school, and no one was smoking at the school. When I changed schools half way thru gr 10 there was pot everywhere at the new school, Smoking at lunch time and between classes was normal for many students, and the sale of pot, hash and oil was very easy to get. I dropped out of school at the age of 17, after gr 11 and joined the working class. I did not smoke for 20 yrs while I did a stint in the Canadian military. I started vaporizing shortly after that, under doctors orders, for conditions which arose from my military service. I am now 61 yrs young, smoke very rarely, but consume marijuana products thru edibles (muffins) almost daily, and that with my Morphine prescription helps me make it thru the day, but I do not not eat pot every day. I believe that marijuana has many medicinal properties that have yet to be discovered. It is really unfortunate that our governments have kept Marijuana Taboo for so long.

  2. LPC News Editor Listing Owner

    Hi Gerald – yes, according to the article, cannabis addiction only affects about 10 per cent of people. However, as with most things regarding the effects and benefits of cannabis, more research is needed. Getting rid of the stigma is important too, as you point out.