Written by: Patrick Thompson
Scientifically, marijuana is not addictive. There are no chemical hooks in marijuana that make your body dependent on cannabis. However, just like anything in the world, it is possible to become psychologically dependent on marijuana.
Psychological dependence is a form of dependence that revolves around emotional-motivational withdrawal symptoms. Psychologically dependent individuals may feel un-easy, dissatisfied, or have a reduced capacity to experience pleasure or anxiety upon the suspension of certain behavior or drug use.
But what causes psychological dependence?
During the Vietnam War, nearly 40 percent of servicemen had tried heroine and 20 percent were addicted. Returning from the war, only 5% of the initial 20% became re-addicted to heroine. The other 95% were able to terminate their addiction overnight. Their physical addiction and psychological dependence did not linger.
The servicemen resorted to heroine because they were engulfed by the stresses of war and surrounded by fellow heroine users. Their environment steered them toward heroine use.
Human beings are social creatures, and when social elements are missing from our lives we look for ways to fill the void. When the soldiers returned to a mundane every-day lifestyle in a desirable social setting, they simply dropped their heroine habit as if it never existed.
The heroine issue in Vietnam is almost parallel to an experiment done by Bruce K Alexander. Alexander ran drug addiction experiments on lab rats. Rats, like humans, are social creatures. One set of rats were kept in solitary confinement; the other set of rats were kept in ‘Rat Park’, a desirable social setting with many rats of both genders and activities to keep the rats occupied.
In both experiments rats could pull on a lever on the side of the cage to inject morphine into their bloodstream. Alexander found that the rats in solitary confinement hit the lever for morphine far more than the rats in Rat Park.
Alexander concluded that the problem wasn’t so much being in a cage or the size of the cage, the problem was feeling caged. The rats in solitary confinement were missing essential elements from their lives so they heavily used heroine for relief. The heroine let them escape from their current lifestyle and deadened their senses to the world around them.
The same goes for drug addicts; somewhere in their lives a crucial element that would balance out their well-being is missing. When a crucial element is missing, individuals may turn to drug use or another vice to fill the void in their life.
To add insult to injury, we label addicts as outcasts, and ostracize them from society. We ruin their future by throwing them into prison. We strip them of their privileges and future work opportunities if they are ever found with drugs.
The war on drugs was meant to help the drug issue in America but has been a failure. In its success stories human beings are placed in prison— back in a cage with negative surroundings.
Instead of individual drug recovery we need to help individuals socially recover. When essential elements are missing from human life, humans will try to find a ways to fill the void. They connect to their drug or vice so strongly that they lose control of the situation and the drug becomes empowered.
The opposite of addiction is control and connection. When you are in control and connected to the world around you there is a low probability that you are missing essential elements from your life and psychologically dependence should not be an issue.
Do not get caught in the clouds if you have nothing to come back to on real ground.