Cannabis: addictive or not?

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Can we talk about a cannabis addiction? Researchers have seriously considered the issue of addiction

WHO (World Health Organization) recently confirmed that the CBD molecule is not addictive. However there is still a debate around the addiction capacity of THC, the most important molecule in cannabis.

The debate around cannabis addiction is particularly controversial. If opinions are often exacerbated, science has done a lot of research on the subject, and the answers are far more subtle than a simple yes or no. Many factors come into play, showing that THC alone is not decisive. Small point on the results.

Cannabis, no physiological addiction

There are no addictive properties in cannabis that can trigger an addiction. So, physically your body will not be pushed to take more cannabis.

Unlike most drugs, such as heroin, but also psychotropic drugs, such as ritalin, adderall, and most prescription drugs, cannabis is therefore not addictive. this guy.

What this means is that in the context of physiological dependence, the body needs the addictive substance in order to be able to function "normally". Without the drug's presence in the body, it begins to show signs of trouble, regardless of the person's mental condition. His disorders are particularly severe, and can lead to death.

Cannabis does not have a chemical component inducing physical dependence, THC does not cause such physiological reactions.

A psychological dependence

If a substance may not lead to physical dependence, it can be quite different with regard to psychological dependence. It is common to grant cannabis this specific type of addiction. What is it really like? The reality is much more complex and is not specifically related to cannabis.

Cannabis is not more addictive in reality than any product that allows the brain to secrete dopamine… And almost anything that gives pleasure allows him to secrete it. It is a known system of reward related to the mechanism of the brain.

The latter brings a feeling ranging from simple relaxation to a deep comfort, through well-being. This type of relief allows many people a better ability to tolerate everyday problems.

Thus, the more important the problems, the more the search for a way to face them becomes felt.

Symptoms of the “Cannabis Use Disorder” (CUD)

There is however a phenomenon called "cannabis use disorder" or CUD which should not be overlooked entirely. CUD is a psychological disorder linked to poor cannabis use.

In the case of the CUD, there may be indications that there is a form of dependence which may be linked to certain factors. The ease with which cannabis can be obtained, group pressure, low self-esteem, or even other factors such as the death of a parent when young or the socio-economic background.

So many elements that are not directly linked to the chemistry of the molecule and its interaction with sensors in the body.

Thus, unlike drugs such as alcohol, cocaine or heroin, CUD finds its origin mainly in psychological factors.

In the case of physical dependence, the body imperatively needs the substance in order to function. Without this, it suffers from a craving effect, as found in the case of alcohol. These signs of addiction are so severe that they may require hospitalization and even death. None of this appears in the CUD.

Signs to watch for

However here are some symptoms appearing in the case of the CUD to be taken into account:

  • An increase in consumption,
  • The difficulty in reducing consumption
  • The time we devote to it
  • A strong desire for cannabis
  • Difficulties in fulfilling personal or professional obligations
  • Relationships with others affected
  • The development of a tolerance threshold requiring an increase in doses, and
  • Some signs of lack.

How many people are affected?

Of the total number of cannabis users, the percentage does not exceed 10% in the USA, which is relatively low for a substance so criticized. In France, even INSERM, in a document on the risks linked to cannabis is obliged to admit that the “risk of dependence is quite low” and when cited by sites however opposed to cannabis, there are only estimates ranging from 5 to 10% of consumers.

Can we call it addiction?

An interesting phenomenon: when you remove the source of the problem causing cannabis use, what is called "addiction" automatically ceases.

Cannabis then becomes something that the individual will use or not, completely freely, without pressure from the subconscious or the body.

This process of disappearing dependence does not exist in the case of drugs causing physical dependence.

Cannabis, a weaning aid

Contrary to popular belief, cannabis is not a gateway to other drugs.

It would be rather the opposite
Cannabis is increasingly used as an “exit herb” to help addicts to stop taking drug.


Psychological problems are easier to manage and understand when good cannabis is used.

Cannabis greatly helps to alleviate a variety of complications from withdrawal from a drug such as heroin. Suppression of nausea, comfort, mild euphoria (with suitable strains), pain control and much more.

A non-addictive pain reliever

Continuing in this direction, and becoming aware of the potential of cannabis, doctors have based on the property of the plant to develop new painkillers.

Their particularities being to have no addictive effects.

and a recent study conducted by Oregon Health & Science University indicates a new method of treating chronic pain. And of course the solution is found in cannabis.

Indeed, one of the important risks that accompany the treatment of this type of pain is drug dependence.

Research has focused on the CB1 and CB2 receptors, in cases of inflammatory pain. This type of pain increases the activity of CB2, and reduces that of CB1.

What is important? Because the CB2 helps reduce pain, and CB1 is linked to addiction. In this situation, by intelligently activating the CB2 sensors, while minimizing the CB1, one can have a painkiller avoiding the withdrawal effect.

CB1 acts on addiction, CB2 acts on pain

Certain cannibinoids found in cannabis are indeed more likely to act on CB2.

Thus drugs focusing on the endocannabinoid system induce production of analgesic with fewer side effects than opioid treatments.

So, addictive or not?

The answer is therefore both simple and complex.

Clearly, cannabis does not cause physical addiction, like alcohol or heroin, or even certain painkillers.

However, there may be a different, more psychological dependence, the external factors of which will impact consumption: the age of the first joint, rate of consumption, general psychological state. If this dependence is in no way comparable to others, and has never concluded with the slightest death, we must nevertheless remain vigilant. As in everything, moderation should be the norm.

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