Is THC Addictive?
Is THC addictive? The short answer is “no”. THC is not addictive, nor has there been any indication or conclusive evidence brought forward that any other chemical compounds found in marijuana plants possess addictive qualities.
That is not to say that dependence on any substance cannot occur with overuse or misuse, but the answer to the question of whether marihuana is physically addictive in the way chemical drugs or even alcohol is, is a resounding no.
THC is a cannabinoid, one of the many chemical compounds found in female cannabis flowers. Cannabinoids are specifically found in the trichomes, or hair-like filaments located on the surface of the marijuana plant.
THC’s molecular structure allows it to bind to naturally occurring compounds in the body’s endocannabinoid system. Interestingly, THC is a compound in cannabis that likely has a secondary purpose – to protect the plant from various threats.
As the main psychoactive compound in marihuana, it is THC that gives users the high feeling. THC increases dopamine levels in the brain, creating a sense of well-being, and can also make you more sensitive to sound and other sensory stimulation. Although user reactions are highly individualized, many also experience a stimulated appetite and muscle relaxation.
The two strains of THC-containing marijuana, indica and sativa, also produce different types of experiences. Sativa strains of marihuana are typically invigorating and energy producing, while the effect of indicas are more sedative.
There is no evidence to suggest that either strain of THC-containing marijuana is physically addictive.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DSM-V) does have an entry for marijuana use disorder, brought about by the heavy and prolonged use of marijuana. As with any substance, misuse and abuse can cause ill effects. While most marijuana users do not experience physical dependence, some may become psychologically dependent on marijuana in the same way as they might with food. This has less to do with marijuana or food as substances as it does with the predispositions of the individual. In these cases, behavioural therapy is a useful tool to treat dependence.
Heavy users could also experience physical withdrawal symptoms with cessation of use, but these would correspond to whether or not an individual was abusing the use of marijuana.
Scientists agree that marijuana is a complex plant whose effects on individuals can vary significantly. However, there is not much debate about whether or not the plant is addictive; it simply is not. Conversely, there is no similar debate as to whether chemical drugs, like cocaine and heroin, are addictive – they have been proven to be highly physically addictive.Back To FAQ