As Marijuana Use Rises, More People Are Seeking Treatment for Addiction By KEVIN HELLIKER May 2, 2006; Page D1 People are aware of the addictive potential of alcohol, cocaine, heroin, even gambling. But the perception persists that marijuana isn't addictive. The doggedness of this myth may be attributable to the campaign to legalize the drug, as well as the comparatively subtle costs of marijuana addiction. But there is virtually no debate among American researchers, who have been documenting and studying marijuana addiction for more than two decades. Now, Cambridge University Press has combined the results of their federally funded studies -- most already published in peer-reviewed journals -- in a new book called "Cannabis Dependence." HEALTH MAILBOX Email firstname.lastname@example.org<sup>1</sup>, and read Tara Parker-Pope's responses in Health Mailbox<sup>2</sup>. The book offers substantial scientific evidence of what Marijuana Anonymous members know firsthand -- that the euphoria induced by THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, can be addictive. Studies show that between 2% and 3% of U.S. marijuana users become addicted within two years of first trying the drug, which is scientifically known as cannabis. About 10% of those who try it become addicted at some point. Now, addiction-treatment statistics are showing dramatic growth in marijuana-related problems. A study issued last month by the University of Maryland's Center for Substance Abuse Research examined the drug of choice for Americans seeking treatment for addiction during the decade that ended in 2003. It found that the percentage of addicts who cited marijuana as their primary problem more than doubled to 16% from 7%, while alcohol fell to 41% from 57%. Among illegal drugs, only opiates ranked higher than marijuana as a problem for treatment seekers. <reprintsdisclaimer></reprintsdisclaimer>Marijuana's rise in the ranks of problem drugs may reflect a big spike in usage. The number of Americans age 12 and older using marijuana at least once a month jumped to 14.6 million in 2004 from 10.1 million in 1996, according to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which adds that some of that jump may be attributable to a change in surveying methods. To study marijuana addiction, the contributors to "Cannabis Dependence" -- a group of researchers at universities across the U.S. -- published newspaper advertisements offering treatment to people unable to quit using the drug. Invariably, hundreds stepped forward. The typical volunteer was a white-collar man in his thirties who smoked marijuana daily and didn't much abuse alcohol or other drugs. "Their substance of choice is marijuana," says Roger A. Roffman, an editor of "Cannabis Dependence" and a University of Washington professor of social work. The researchers found that the overall rate of addiction among marijuana users is slightly lower than for imbibers of alcohol. But among people who use marijuana daily, the rate of addiction is significantly higher than among daily drinkers. Addiction is diagnosed when a person experiences at least three of seven indicators, such as failure to control usage, preoccupation with the drug and withdrawal symptoms. The addictiveness of marijuana is underappreciated in part because legalization advocates tend to play down the problem. But a bigger factor may be that marijuana addiction typically doesn't kill, wreck careers, ruin health or otherwise wreak the sort of tragedies that make headlines. Although studies suggest that marijuana can cause neurological and cardiovascular damage, that evidence remains inconclusive and largely connected to smoking the drug, which isn't necessary. Marijuana-enriched olive oil can deliver a powerful high. Yet if marijuana addiction were benign, thousands of Americans wouldn't be seeking to kick the habit each year. In treatment, many express a sense of being unable to move forward in their personal and professional lives while in a constant state of marijuana intoxication. Often, marijuana addiction damages relationships. Its illegality can get a user arrested. Then there are the symptoms of withdrawal: "irritability, anger, nervousness, sleep difficulty, change in appetite, physical discomfort," says Alan J. Budney, a University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences addiction specialist. The typical absence of dramatic consequences can make marijuana addiction difficult to break. The memory of brushes with death, jail and destitution can help keep a heroin user or alcoholic from relapsing. But the more-subtle costs of marijuana addiction are easier to forget. Research shows that staying clean is just as hard for marijuana addicts as for heroin addicts, says Robert S. Stephens, chairman of psychology at Virginia Tech University and "Cannabis Dependence" editor. Initially, meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous provided little help to a Chicago marijuana addict named Bob, who asked that his last name not be used for this article. "I would hear people talk about liver damage, job losses, broken marriages -- stuff that had never happened to me," says Bob, a white-collar worker in his late 20s at that time. On the surface, his life appeared to be well-managed. He was pursuing a college degree at night and competing in triathlons on weekends. But his sense of accomplishment was utterly undermined by his incessant need to sneak off and smoke joints. He even bought a car expressly for the purpose of having a private place to get high on his lunch hour in downtown Chicago. For an entire decade, he got high about four times a day. Ultimately, he came to realize he was no less an addict than is the alcoholic or the heroin user. His last toke came in November of 1998. Soon afterward he started a Chicago meeting of Marijuana Anonymous. After seven clean years, he says, he still has cravings: "I'll catch a whiff of pot on the street, and my mouth starts watering." </td></tr></tbody></table> Now time for a rant... Such bs. This is why legilization is lagging. People become psychlogically addicted to pot and check themselves into a rehab clinic. If you become addicted, its not because pot made you addicted, it's because you are looking for some type of dependency because of something in your life. You don't see rehab clinics taking people addicted to coffee, but I'm damn sure they experience at least 3 of the 7 'withdrawl' symptoms. Until people realize that this dependency is all in their heads will legalization get underway. Not to mention, they article doesn't talk about how many of the people that are addicted were forced to go there because of some deal they got with the courts after getting arrested. I can imagine a majority of the people there were forced to go there by parents, courts, and whatnot. To me at least, it seems a lot of their stats were formatted to fit the article. Knowing the naive nature of the public, they will read this and without a doubt, there will be some slow in the process of decrimilization. Pot is addictive, there fore it must remain illegal! Such BS. Wait, i just reread this and couldnt help but laugh my ass off when I read this quote. If you don't read the article, at least read this. "On the surface, his life appeared to be well-managed. He was pursuing a college degree at night and competing in triathlons on weekends. But his sense of accomplishment was utterly undermined by his incessant need to sneak off and smoke joints. He even bought a car expressly for the purpose of having a private place to get high on his lunch hour in downtown Chicago." Sounds like a damn good life to me.