Marijuana habit forming
Elliott Italiano, a former client of Inspirations for Youth and Families teen rehab, was featured in a WBZ CBS Boston television news segment: “Marijuana Addiction Uncommon But Real, Experts Say.” Italiano, a 17-year-old from Jamestown, Rhode Island represents one of the many teens who come to Inspirations with a drug addiction and not only leave clean, but stay clean. In Italiano’s case he had a marijuana addiction. In the interview, he considers marijuana habit forming.

See why Marijuana is Habit Forming on WBZ News

Elliott started smoking his sophomore year in high school and at first; it didn’t have much of an impact on his life. “For school at first I started doing better. I was getting good scores and passing my classes much better,” he said.

But academically things changed pretty quickly when Elliott began smoking marijuana more. “You start smoking morning, night, right after school, sometimes in school. It does become habit-forming, completely,” he said.

“About 10% of the people who use marijuana will become addicted to it.”

Dr. John Kelly, Harvard Medical School Researcher

By the time Elliott entered his senior year he wound up in rehab at Inspirations for Youth and Families. He was there for poly-substance abuse, which in clinical terms means he was using multiple drugs frequently. In Elliott’s case he was suffering from both marijuana addiction and prescription drug abuse. Elliott found pot too be a huge problem. “I started failing school more,” he said.

Harvard Researcher: Marijuana Habit Forming

Dr. John Kelly, Harvard Medical School researcher also believes marijuana can be addictive. “About 10% of the people who use Marijuana will become addicted to it,” Kelly said.

Statistics compiled by the National Institutes of Health show marijuana is second only to alcohol in the number of people who seek treatment for addiction. More than heroin, prescription pain killers or cocaine. Despite the fact that many teens and adults dismiss the concept that marijuana is physically addictive, there has been documented research that points to physical withdrawal symptoms among heavy marijuana users who quit including: irritability, sleep difficulties, cravings and restlessness.

“You start smoking morning, night, right after school, sometimes in school. It does become habit-forming, completely.”

Elliott Italiano, a 17-year-old, formerly with a marijuana addiction

Dr. Kelly contends that, the younger someone is when they start smoking pot, the greater their risk of physical dependence. Another factor that impacts marijuana addiction is its higher level of THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) potency today than in the past. Marijuana, whether in legalized form through dispensaries or off the street is far more stronger than the pot Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers consumed in college. Marijuana products and edibles are a far cry from the pot Baby Boomers and even Gen-Xers smoked in college.

Pot is more lethal and more addictive

Higher doses make today’s pot more addictive and more damaging to young brains. Dr. Kelly is certain that greater access to marijuana with its legalization in an ever growing number of states – will be a problematic. “We would see higher numbers of people who are addicted. There is absolutely no doubt about that,” he warned.

Elliott believes people will smoke pot whether it is legal or not. He’s just glad he realized that it can take over your life. “I almost didn’t graduate. But now that I have been through all that I have been through, I’m now able to walk the stage this year, which is fantastic.”