Volume 95, Issue 55

Thursday, January 10, 2002
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The Gazette's ultimate guide to addictions

Smoking - what a drag

Mmmm... Coffeeeee

Don't gamble away your life savings

I love Magnum P.I.

Don't get too pumped

Marajuana is not addictive

The myth of the bottomless mug

New Year's resolutions

Marajuana is not addictive

What have you been smoking lately? If the answer is marijuana, you're not alone and quitting may be easier than you think.

Richard Garlick, director of communications at the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, said the issue of marijuana addiction is very much in debate. "Some people claim that marijuana is addictive, while others believe it may just be habit forming," he said.

The reason marijuana may not be considered addictive is because it does not produce withdrawal symptoms, Garlick explained. "In labs, symptoms of withdrawal can be produced in rats, but it is difficult to infer these results upon humans," he said.

"The age group with the greatest use is university students," Garlick said. Thirty to 50 per cent of the population on any campus may be described as 'regular users,' but the numbers may not be accurate because they only refer to those who have used marijuana within the last 12 months, he explained.

Among Canadians, an increasingly longer period of drug use has been speculated, he said. Studies have indicated that high school students are frequently showing up to class stoned, suggesting users are getting younger.

"It was always assumed that drug use changes once people graduate from university or college, but people in their early 20s are still using. They have just learned how to accommodate it within their responsibilities," he said. "The real downturn in use is when people get married and begin their family."

One drawback of the drug is that it remains in the system for a long time, he said, noting even weeks after use, it can still be detected in medical tests. Cannabis can have long term effects, including the inability to concentrate, remember information and absorb material, Garlick explained.

An addiction can be considered anything that disrupts normal life patterns and prevents an individual from doing things they would normally be doing, Garlick said.

"Something doesn't have to be addictive to be a problem."

-Lindsay Satterthwaite

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