Anyone who feels like they’re trapped in a never-ending cycle of smoking too much weed can always kick their habit by going to Marijuana Anonymous (MA). That’s right. For those who’ve developed a habit that’s hard to put down, MA is there to help.

Is marijuana addictive, though? And can MA help people who feel like they need it?

Is Marijuana Addictive?

This is a cannabis topic hotly debated. Some addiction experts and others say yes, while others say it’s all about the way you define addiction. One thing that most people agree on (even those who support legal cannabis use) is that people can abuse cannabis and experience symptoms of marijuana withdrawal.

While you don’t very often hear the term “marijuana addiction”, you will hear people talk about “cannabis use disorder.” Defined by at least two of the following criteria (occurring within a 12-month period), cannabis use disorder is estimated to affect 9 percent of the population that regularly uses marijuana:

  • Cannabis is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.
  • There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control cannabis use.
  • A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain cannabis, use cannabis, or recover from its effects.
  • Craving, or a strong desire or urge to use cannabis.
  • Recurrent cannabis use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home.
  • Continued cannabis use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of cannabis.
  • Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of cannabis use.
  • Recurrent cannabis use in situations in which it is physically hazardous.
  • Cannabis use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by cannabis.
  • Tolerance, as defined by either a (1) need for markedly increased cannabis to achieve intoxication or desired effect or (2) markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of the substance.
  • Withdrawal, as manifested by either (1) the characteristic withdrawal syndrome for cannabis or (2) cannabis is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms

According to Roger Roffman, Professor Emeritus of Social Work at University of Washington, “While we need to acknowledge that cannabis can be used moderately and responsibly, can enrich lives, and, of course, can be healing for a lot of people, the fact of the matter is we have a substantial minority of cannabis users who experience far more than one or two of these diagnostic criteria. We need to be compassionate to people for whom a moderate or severe disorder exists, and we need good science to understand it and find ways of helping.”

Marijuana Anonymous is one organization that wants to help.

What is Marijuana Anonymous?

According to their website, Marijuana Anonymous is “a fellowship of people who share our experience, strength, and hope with each other that we may solve our common problem and help others recover from marijuana addiction.”

Marijuana Anonymous goes on to add their own definition of what they believe a “marijuana addict” is.

We who are marijuana addicts know the answer to this question. Marijuana controls our lives! We lose interest in all else; our dreams go up in smoke. Ours is a progressive illness often leading us to addictions to other drugs, including alcohol. Our lives, our thinking, and our desires center around marijuana—scoring it, dealing it, and finding ways to stay high.

Based on the 12-steps used in AA, MA seeks to help those who admitted they were “powerless over marijuana”, whose “lives had become unmanageable.” There are chapters throughout the US and in various parts of the world.

Does Marijuana Anonymous Work?

12-Step programs are as debated as the whole cannabis addiction issue. Since it was founded in the 1930s by two alcoholics, AA has become a household name when it comes to addiction recovery.

These programs are prescribed by doctors, required in court cases, and are often seen as the end-all solution for those suffering from substance abuse.

The success rate of AA however, is only believed to be about 5-10 percent. Sure, you hear about all the success stories, but its rare you hear about when the program fails people trying to get clean. Not everyone believes in the 12-step dogma, and its hard to say if MA is the answer for those seeking a way out of a crushing cannabis dependence.

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