Is cannabis addictive?

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You don’t often hear people say “cannabis addiction” in the scientific and medical communities. Instead, you’re more likely hear the term “cannabis use disorder,” and that’s the condition you will find listed in the official manual of psychiatric diagnostics – the DSM-V. This manual’s definitions and criteria are universally recognized in the U.S. for treatment recommendations, and it characterizes cannabis use disorder using 11 indicators. These markers describe various behaviors relating to cannabis use, including cravings, time spent using, dose, and life impacts. The number of factors experienced by an individual determines the severity of the disorder.
addictive
Substance use disorders span a wide variety of problems arising from substance use, and cover 11 different criteria:
  • Taking the substance in larger amounts or for longer than you're meant to.
  • Wanting to cut down or stop using the substance but not managing to.
  • Spending a lot of time getting, using, or recovering from use of the substance.
  • Cravings and urges to use the substance.
  • Not managing to do what you should at work, home, or school because of substance use.
  • Continuing to use, even when it causes problems in relationships.
  • Giving up important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of substance use.
  • Using substances again and again, even when it puts you in danger.
  • Continuing to use, even when you know you have a physical or psychological problem that could have been caused or made worse by the substance.
  • Needing more of the substance to get the effect you want (tolerance)
  • Development of withdrawal symptoms, which can be relieved by taking more of the substance.
The DSM 5 allows clinicians to specify how severe or how much of a problem the substance use disorder is, depending on how many symptoms are identified. Two or three symptoms indicate a mild substance use disorder; four or five symptoms indicate a moderate substance use disorder, and six or more symptoms indicate a severe substance use disorder. Clinicians can also add “in early remission,” “in sustained remission,” “on maintenance therapy,” and “in a controlled environment.”

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