Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Studies show marijuana may be addictive

Marijuana has always been known as the “non-addictive drug.” However, recent studies have discovered it may be addictive after all; they have also found marijuana use is on the rise.

Taniquelle Thurner, Campus ReporterDrug use on the UW-Madison campus may be rising, according to statistics compiled by the University Police Department.

In 1999, the university police made 66 drug-related arrests. By 2000, that number had risen to 97.

In 2001, however, 126 cases involving narcotics were documented. Of those, 84 involved possession of marijuana, three involved sales of marijuana and five involved possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, said detective Bruce Carroll of the UWPD.

Many UW students claim marijuana is the most popular drug on campus because it is not addictive, in comparison to cigarettes, alcohol and other drugs.

“I smoke [marijuana] because it calms me down,” a female UW junior said. “Plus, it’s not like cigarettes where you crave one all the time. It’d be easy to stop smoking pot.”

A male sophomore agreed.

“There is no risk of physical addiction to this drug at all,” he said.

However, new scientific evidence is showing this may not be true.

Scientists have learned that marijuana may be addictive — at least for some people. The New York Times reported Jan. 29 that studies have shown 10 to 14 percent of the population can become strongly dependent on the drug, and addiction rates among teenagers are rising in large cities such as New York and San Francisco.

Last year, Dr. Alan J. Budney, associate professor at the University of Vermont and director of its Treatment Research Center, conducted a study to determine whether heavy marijuana smokers suffered withdrawal when trying to quit.

Budney discovered when people stopped using the drug they experienced symptoms such as cravings, decreased appetite, sleep difficulty, weight loss, aggression, anger, irritability, restlessness and strange dreams.

A male UW senior admitted to some difficulty when he tried to stop using marijuana.

“I play [sports] for the school,” he said, “and we have drug tests, so I used to smoke off-season and then quit when we had to start training. But this year, I couldn’t quit. Sometimes I just can’t sleep unless I smoke up.”

A female UW graduate student said she agreed.

“I have to smoke up because it slows me down and helps me study. My grades would seriously drop if I didn’t [use marijuana] to help me focus.”

Until recently, no experimentation had been done on animals to determine the effects of marijuana — in particular, the primary ingredient, delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC.

Last year, however, scientists at the National Institute on Drug Abuse found monkeys would voluntarily give themselves THC in amounts similar to those inhaled by people who smoke marijuana. Self-administration of drugs by animals is perceived to be a trademark of addictive substances.

The Core Survey, a report conducted to poll the social habits of college students, reported 33.6 percent of college students admitted to using marijuana in the last year and 20 percent admitted to using it in the past month. With such a large percentage of students using the drug, it is possible some are addicted.

One UW-Madison sophomore said he realized he had a problem with addiction last year.

“It’s weird,” he said. “Everyone always says that this stuff isn’t addictive, and I believed it. But when I tried to stop smoking pot, it was really hard. I don’t think people realize that. A lot of people out there are smoking away, thinking they can stop any time, but it’s just not that easy.”

University Counseling offers many sources of help for those who feel they might have a problem with addiction. A support network for friends and family of addicts, called Mar-Anon, which is loosely based on the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program, offers Internet resources. Those interested can subscribe to the service at [email protected].

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