The experts, the people who study addiction for a living, talk about addiction in terms of two continuums. One continuum starts at experimentation and the goes to use, then abuse, then addiction. The other continuum locates the severity of an addiction, mild, moderate, or severe. In David Sheff’s book Clean, these two spectrums are discussed by licensed psychologist and Professor in the UCLA Departments of Family Medicine, Psychiatry, and Biobehavioral Sciences Dr. Steven J. Shoptaw. On the first continuum, experimentation is defined as trying something “two or three times” and using as “more than that.” Abuse, Shoptaw explains, is defined as “a pattern of use over at least a year that causes ‘clinical distress.’” These definitions are supplied by The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which is the book (or bible) used by mental health professionals to diagnose illness.
A Clinical Diagnosis = An Educated Guess by a Clinician
The definition of the word clinical is “concerned with or based on actual observation and treatment of disease in patients rather than experimentation or theory.” So clinical depression means a clinician has assessed someone as being depressed. The same principle applies to addiction. Medical jargon and continuum are necessary in order to attempt to nail down the shadowy underpinnings of addiction, but clinicians are making educated guesses, and no one’s really taken aback by the phrase “marijuana addict,” even the person being called a marijuana addict.
There’s no Medical Proof of Addiction to Marijuana
As the previous article points out, you are the best person to figure out if you’re addicted to weed. Why is this the case? First, observation is the backbone of a clinical diagnosis. Clinicians ask abstract questions about what patients are feeling. In other words, there is very little in the way of physical proof–x-ray, blood test, etc.–for marijuana addiction. Think about it: it’s hard enough for the user to describe to himself what’s going on in his mind and body, let alone convey those things to an outside observer. Secondly, being told that one’s a marijuana addict isn’t really going to motivate that person to quit using weed. It’s not exactly a horrific diagnosis, unlike being told you need a root canal or something. Thirdly, even the medical community can’t agree on the definition of addiction. That being said, we can’t just ignore the medical community. It’s spent gazillions researching addiction and has discovered a lot of valuable information you can use.
The Science of Addiction Research Can Help You Quit Weed
If we’re keeping tabs on addiction research, and indeed we are, then we need to acknowledge that the clinical definition of addiction recently changed. Remember the two continuums we talked about in the first paragraph? Well, the new edition of the DSM that came out in May of 2013, the DSM-V, now combines the abuse and addiction stages on the first continuum. David Sheff paraphrases the change for us: “The new definition is nuanced but generally states that anyone who continues to use drugs in spite of harmful consequences has a substance-abuse disorder and is an addict.” There was a big hullaballoo when the DSM came out with this new definition of addiction. So don’t get too wrapped up in clinical definitions and diagnoses with regard to marijuana addiction because they can’t even agree amongst themselves what exactly addiction is.