I’m not going to use marijuana. It’s addictive. That’s what I hear all the time when I propose to a patient that cannabis therapy might be helpful.
Hi. I’m Dr. Dan Stein, board-certified neurologist and medical cannabis expert and that particular concern is a very common one. Patients want to know that the medicine they’re taking is not going to cause more problems.
Addiction to certain chemicals is certainly a problem in our society, opioid use for example, alcoholism, even gambling. Addictive behaviors and addictive physiological responses to drugs cause major problems.
Cannabis can cause some addiction in some people but it’s very, very rare. Usually it’s in younger people, teenagers, that use a lot of THC. The endocannabinoid system, our brain’s biochemical machinery that binds THC, is a very carefully balanced system and when too much THC is taken in the form of cannabis or marijuana, the receptors on our nerve cells become less populated.
There’s a down regulation. So with a lot of THC use, it does take more and more THC to produce the same effect. We call that tolerance. In some individuals who are using a lot of THC, perhaps dabbing, that’s the process of inhaling a concentrate in a large dose, those individuals sometimes down-regulate the receptors to the point where they need to use more and more every day and then as a result, they become preoccupied with finding that medication, finding the product, buying it and using it.
When an individual is preoccupied with acquiring a substance and using it to the detriment of their health and their social situation, that is called addiction.
I want to be clear. Addiction is the problem that people develop when they are no longer able to function in a social environment and they’re preoccupied with obtaining a substance even though they may know it’s detrimental to their health.
So that does happen with cannabis use but it’s rare and it’s usually in heavy users at a younger age. So the majority of patients that we see are cannabis-naïve. They haven’t been using and I certainly recommend to them that they not use too much because they can develop problems and it may not even work.
So here at the cannabis clinic when asked about addiction, I can say confidently that no, patients are not going to become addicted. We’re going to guide them in a way that uses cannabis properly to provide symptom relief without dependence on the medication.
I do understand that you’re watching this video because you may have your own questions or concerns. So if you are a seasonal or a permanent resident of Florida and you would like to ask us your specific question, please call. We can be reached here at the office, 941-400-1211, or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
That’s our video for today. I’m Dr. Dan Stein. Have a great day.