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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

No Longer Poker-Faced: Gaga Is Addicted to Marijuana

"Lady Gaga just revealed that she was addicted to marijuana, 
admitting that at one point in her life, she smoked
 'up to 15-20 marijuana cigarettes a day.'"

( staff. "Gaga's Shocking Reveal: I Was Addicted To Weed." November, 13, 2013)

And with the diction used in this report comes the weathered argument: People cannot become addicted to marijuana. Is the "addiction" a matter of semantics? The degree and severity of a dependency to pot may be used to deny addiction; however, when any substance

Gaga said she's now speaking out about the issue because she wants her fans to know that they can become addicted to marijuana. "Can I be brilliant without it?" asked Gaga. "I know that I can be and I have to be, because I want to live, and I want my fans to want to live."

"I just want young kids to know that you actually can become addicted to it," Gaga confided. The 27-year-old singer said she got to a point where she knew she "had to stop" because she was jeopardizing her health.

True, she has had trouble with many other drugs. Gaga admitted that she has "been addicted to various things since she was young," and that she often jumps from one drug to another, but that fame had compounded those issues. "The truth is that it is very hard to be famous," she explained.

"The truth is that I can break, and I did," she said. "I was not very good at breaking. I lost everything that I love. I was in a wheelchair for six months. I did a lot of drugs and took a lot of pills,"

Yet, Gaga was particularly fond of abusing marijuana. She says, "I was living on a totally other psychedelic plane, numbing myself completely, and looking back, I do see now that some of it had to do with my hip pain. I was just in a lot of pain and very depressed all the time and not really sure why." She said she has since stopped taking the drug.  

( staff. "Gaga's Shocking Reveal: I Was Addicted To Weed." November, 13, 2013)

Marijuana Addiction

perhaps the most unbiased book on marijuana addiction and other related topics is The Science of Marijuana (2008). The Science of Marijuana is written by Leslie L. Iverson, a professor of pharmacology at the University of Cambridge in England. In the book, he reviews decades of international research on marijuana, both laboratory research and survey research. Based on his review of the scientific literature, between 10 to 30% of regular users will develop dependency. Only about 9% will have a serious addiction.

 ( "Is Marijuana Addictive?" Psychology Today, December 5, 2010)

Other research has shown that the percentage of people who try marijuana and become addicted to it is small, yet it is possible to get hooked on the drug. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about 9 percent of marijuana users become dependent on the drug, with that percentage going up for people who begin using the drug in adolescence.

Comparatively, Scientific American pointed out that in a 1994 study showing that 9 percent of people who've tried marijuana become dependent on it, the numbers are higher for other substances: alcohol is 15 percent, heroin is 23 percent and nicotine is 32 percent.

Marijuana withdrawal (officially called cannabis withdrawal in the recently released fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) is also sometimes seen in people who stop using marijuana. It is characterized by anxiety, problems sleeping, irritability and aggression, the NIDA reported. And while it's impossible to die from a marijuana overdose, dependence on marijuana can cause disruptions to people's lives.

("Lady Gaga Says She's Addicted To Marijuana: Is It Possible?"
The Huffington Post. November 11, 2013)

So, if people can and do become addicted to the substance, why does the myth persist that addiction to marijuana never happens? Why hasn't the truth taken root in mainstream America?

(1)  The likelihood of becoming addicted is much less than with other substances. For instance, very few people emerge from long-term cocaine, heroin, or narcotics use without some sort of physical dependency. However, studies have shown that marijuana addiction plagues only 10% of users. That means that roughly 90% of users do not experience addiction.

(2)  Those who can smoke marijuana without developing dependence may be less likely to believe a fellow smoker has actually become addicted. We see this phenomenon most often with alcohol addiction – not all alcohol drinkers become alcoholics and many cannot understand why others just can’t say no. 

(3) Since the vast majority of marijuana users do not become addicted, mainstream America is not constantly being bombarded with media stories about a marijuana addiction epidemic, like with the methamphetamine or OxyContin addiction epidemics.

("Hooked on Pot: Marijuana Addiction Is Real. 2013)

My Take

Almost any substance can trigger compulsion and be linked to psychological addiction. For example, people become addicted to shopping, sex, and gambling. Those who become addicts to their compulsions suffer tremendous discomfort, anxiety, and impairment.

Many other substances can be physically addictive. Alcohol, opioids, cocaine, and amphetamines are among the drugs that cause debilitating dependency and addiction. It is evident that some people also become addicted to marijuana. Even if marijuana use is "safer" than use of other substances, continued consumption of marijuana can create devastating consequences.

Marijuana addiction has many of the same characteristics as any addiction to other drugs including alcohol, tobacco or even caffeine. The frequent obsession with the drug causes addicts to think about it excessively, scheme how and when to get it, and spend exorbitantly to purchase it.

Marijuana dependency can cause changes can be seen socially, emotionally, physically, as well as psychologically. Individuals with a marijuana addiction tend to gravitate to others who share their interest in the drug. Daily marijuana users also tend to lose interest in activities that once meant a lot to them such as going out with friends, participating in sports and family get together to name a few.

Another trait of marijuana addiction is the physical craving that comes when the body adapts to the drug and begins to develop a tolerance to it. Anyone who has been smoking marijuana for awhile can tell that they must smoke more now to feel the same effect that just a few hits used to produce. It's not about the quality of the weed, it's the bodies defense mechanism as it readjusts to keep balance with the frequent supply of new chemicals being delivered by the pot.

People who illegally possess, use, and deal marijuana risk arrest and all the societal consequences related to breaking the law. Jobs and families are often in the balance for those found guilty. Many who are attracted to the drug abstain from using it because too much is at stake.

Marijuana? On first thought, we tend to chuckle about any harmful effects caused by the substance. We lump it in the "Cheech and Chong" laughable category of numb, stoner influence. The news today from Lady Gaga is interesting because she chose to swim upstream against the current of acceptable weed usage in popular music.

Considering the risks to her rebellious image and her unique career, Lady Gaga's negative comments about marijuana's addictive powers are bold. She has put herself in the sights of those who will ridicule her conservative stand. Time will tell if her sincerity endures -- she faces a mountain of criticism. I applaud her for speaking out against addiction.

One last thought: Are we just reading GaGa's poker face? I hope she is not making her confessions for the sake of great publicity. One certainty remains -- according to recent research, she can rest assured that people can become addicted to marijuana. Smoking weed is a vice which can ruin lives. It's time for America to accept this reality.

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