The Many Layers of Pot Addiction
Sometimes pot addiction (weed, marijuana, etc.) gets dismissed as being a “soft” drug addiction because many people see pot as being rather harmless compared to other drugs. People do this minimizing for a couple of reasons:
1) Marijuana detox does not generally produce any withdrawal symptoms. So most anyone can stop using pot, cold turkey, without suffering any ill effects. Other “harder” drugs produce more of a physical and psychological craving during detox.
2) There really is no ceiling on intoxication. With a drug like alcohol, if you drink about six time more than what it takes to get you drunk, you end up dying. The same idea can be found with other drugs in which people can overdose. But there really is no potential for overdose with pot addiction, so people take this as another sign that the drug is harmless.
3) Many people tried smoking pot and walked away from it without becoming addicted. Contrast this with the same group of people who might have tried cigarettes or even alcohol, and you can see that the perception is that other drugs are much more addictive than pot.
The truth about pot addiction
The truth is that anyone has the potential of becoming addicted to pot and having it ruin their life. The problem is not so much in the physical effects of the drug, but more about what it is doing to the person at the behavioral level.
People who get addicted to pot smoke it every day. It becomes a daily ritual and eventually it consumes almost every activity with the need to get high beforehand, during, or afterward. This is not a physical addiction of course, but people are still addicted to it in the following ways:
1) Socially - pot addicts tend to hang out with other pot addicts. The use of the drug starts defining their friendships. Old friends who do not smoke are drifted away from.
2) Behavioral/daily activities - pot addicts fall into rituals in which they need to smoke every day at specified events (like before each meal, or after work, for example).
3) Emotionally – this is the big one. People who smoke pot every day probably do not realize that they are actually medicating their feelings. What this means is that they are really not dealing with reality at all, because when they have natural emotions that occur throughout their life (such as being sad, scared, frustrated, angry, etc.) they simply end up medicating those feelings away by getting high.
This leads to emotional immaturity, because the person is no longer learning how to deal with their emotions in a healthy manner. If they have smoked pot for a long time, and then try to go a few days without it, they are going to get very uncomfortable if they have to actually deal with any feelings that might come up. This is how dependence on marijuana can occur. It happens at the emotional level because people are using the drug to get high and escape from reality at the level of their emotions and feelings.
This last point can be a subtle idea that many pot addicts will dismiss at first, because of course they still do have feelings. What they will not realize is that they are not properly processing those feelings, and instead they are medicating them with their drug. There is a difference between actually feeling your feelings and processing them in a natural, healthy way versus feeling them for a short time and then medicating them away with a drug.