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.

Drug 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

"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

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
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MAP posted-by: Beth

Newshawk: G F Storck
Pubdate: Fri, 15 Feb 2002
Source: Badger Herald (WI)
Copyright: 2002 Badger Herald
Author: Taniquelle Thurner, Campus Reporter