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Marijuana is one of the most popular recreational drugs, and it is now legal for recreational and medical use in many states.


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Weed, also known as marijuana, is a drug derived from the leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds of either the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant. There is a chemical in the plants called tetrahydrocannabinol THC that has mind-altering properties. Although nine states, plus Washington, D. Marijuana, and THC in particular, has been shown to reduce chemotherapy-induced vomiting and nausea for people going through cancer treatment. It can also help to reduce nerve damage pain neuropathy in people with HIV or other conditions. According to NIDA, approximately 30 percent of marijuana users may have some sort of marijuana use disorder.

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For Quintin Pohl and countless teenagers before him, smoking pot was a rite of passage. It was a diversion from the loneliness he felt at home when his parents were splitting up and a salve for middle-school angst. It was his entire social life in seventh and eighth grades, when social life is everything.

Marijuana research report

Even though nearly all his friends were using marijuana and seeming to enjoy it, Pohl said, at some point his marijuana use took a turn he never saw coming: He became addicted. Many people are unaware of marijuana addiction. But in the public health and medical communities, it is a well-defined disorder that includes physical withdrawal symptoms, cravings and psychological dependence.

Many say it is on the rise, perhaps because of the increasing potency of genetically engineered plants and the use of concentrated products, or because more marijuana users are partaking multiple times a day.

The controversy should be why it appears to be affecting more people. Although estimates of the of people who have ever tried marijuana or who use it regularly vary widely from survey to survey, the federal government and the marijuana industry tend to agree that total marijuana use has remained relatively constant over the past decade.

Increased use in the past three years has been slight, despite increased commercial availability in states that have legalized it. The percentage of people who become addicted to marijuana — about 9 percent of all usersand about 17 percent of those who start in adolescence — also has been stable. To be sure, there are no known reports of anyone dying of a marijuana overdose or its commonly experienced withdrawal symptoms — chills, sweats, cravings, insomnia, loss of appetite, nausea, anxiety and irritability.

Still, since so many Americans use marijuana recreationally — more than any other mood-altering substance other than alcohol — the of people who develop a dependence on it is substantial. About 20 miles north of here, at Muir Wood Adolescent and Family Services, where Pohl eventually got treatment as he entered his senior year in high school, Smith, a visiting physician there, said the of patients seeking help for marijuana dependence has more than doubled in the last two years.

Rising potency

But selective breeding has resulted in an average marijuana potency of 20 percent THC, the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana. Some strains exceed 30 percent. Marijuana concentrates and extracts, much more commonly used in the last five years, have THC levels that range from 40 to more than 80 percent, according to marijuana industry promotional information and Drug Enforcement Administration reports. Other addiction specialists say that although the of marijuana users may not be rising ificantly, the percentage of users who use it multiple times a day is increasing, which may also be contributing to higher rates of dependence.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, daily use among young adults is at the highest rate in more than 30 years.

In general, only about 5 percent of people with marijuana addiction get specialized treatment, compared with nearly a quarter of those with an opioid addiction, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Susan Weiss, who directs research on the health effects of marijuana at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, told a group of addiction doctors at the annual meeting of the American Society of Addiction Medicine in April that the federal government is trying to get the message out that marijuana can be addictive. Fox said his organization has no disagreement with the scientific finding that about 9 percent of people who use marijuana become addicted, and his organization urges its members to make that clear in their marketing information.

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But he disagrees that more potent forms of marijuana may be causing an increase in addiction. So far, no scientific studies have shown that stronger pot increases the likelihood of addiction, and large swaths of the general public continue to question the existence of marijuana addiction.

But for Quintin Pohl, addiction was real. Pohl said his marijuana addiction took years to develop. It was awful, awful. Scott Sowle, director of the Muir Wood center, where Pohl got treatment, said he gets the same call from parents nearly every day.

He was interested in sports and involved in extracurricular activities. Pohl recalled that he drank a little, off and on, but that marijuana was his constant obsession.

After middle school, he got involved in rowing for a couple of years and took a break from his marijuana friend group. His grades plummeted; he stopped going home most of the time and was couch surfing for a while. Finally, he said, his mom called the cops on him for stealing her car. I was still in that whole miserable phase, smoking at least an ounce of weed a week — two ounces on a good week.

I walked from the bathroom into my bedroom. There was steam everywhere. But through the haze, I could see two big guys in my room in leather Can i get addicted to weed, two really big guys. Pohl said he went through a week of pure misery at Muir Wood: angry, in denial and suffering. I was cold and then I was sweating. Things tasted good, smelled better, everything was just enhanced.

During his six weeks at Muir Wood, Pohl took intensive classes with about 10 other boys and talked to his therapist frequently. His mother spent eight hours a week there, attending parent classes, sharing meals with her son, and working with him and his therapist to address the underlying issues that led him to self-medicate with marijuana.

For the rest of the summer and after school in the fall, he attended classes at a Muir Wood outpatient clinic in San Rafael.

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Wearing black pants, a black sweatshirt and a pink skull cap on a cool but sunny day in late May, Pohl smiles broadly when he talks about his future. He also plans to move to Petaluma and share a house with friends, he said. Inhe says, a group of high school kids who called themselves the Waldos met at the statue every day at p.

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Read Mode. Table of Contents. Addiction specialists there are seeing increased demand for marijuana addiction treatment. The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Potency and Frequency About 20 miles north of here, at Muir Wood Adolescent and Family Services, where Pohl eventually got treatment as he entered his senior year in high school, Smith, a visiting physician there, said the of patients seeking help for marijuana dependence has more than doubled in the last two years.

Federal officials are trying to increase awareness. Quintin's Story Pohl said his marijuana addiction took years to develop. And then the roller coaster plunged. Places United States California.

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