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Why Addiction to Marijuana?

By Jurriaan Plesman, BA(Psych), Post Grad Dip Clin Nutr

In the drug subculture there is a strong belief that smoking marijuana is simply a recreational activity and is non-addictive. It is true that not all potentially addictive substances leads necessarily to addiction. For instance, alcohol is an addictive drugs, but not everybody who drinks alcohol becomes an alcoholic. Only people with an addictive personality may become addicted to either alcohol or marijuana, if the drug is used to relieve stress. This may explain why some people become addicted to smoking marijuana – also known as Aunt Mary, Dope, Gangster, Ganja, weed and a host of other street names – and others do not.

I believe that depression is usually the forerunner of addiction. See Hemat.

Marijuana, Cannabis sativa, has about 400 chemicals, the most important of which is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which affects the brain. It is also linked to an increased risk of developing schizophrenia.(13 Pubmed Studies) Ironically Cannabis also contains a substance called Cannabidiol (CBD) which has been shown to inhibit cancer cell growth and reduce symptoms of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.  Wikipedia  See also Canabidiol

We need to know why some people become addicted and others not. From a psychonutritional point of view the answer is simple. Most addictive people are hypoglycemic, that makes them vulnerable to addiction.

You may ask why should hypoglycemic people have an addiction problem. Again the answer is simple. Hypoglycemia – a term not recognized by conventional medicine – is a pre-diabetic condition caused by insulin resistance. It takes about 20 years for pre-diabetes to develop into full-blown diabetes. Thus both diabetes and hypoglycemia have insulin resistance as a common underlying disease. Most addictive people have been shown to have insulin resistance (or hypoglycemia) marked by unstable blood sugar levels. Stephen Gyland. This can easily be tested with a special Glucose Tolerance Test for Hypoglycemia by Dr George Samra and as explained here. Insulin resistance is one  example of a silent disease, meaning the person having it, is not aware of it. There are many other silent diseases that can be responsible for mood disorders. The first step in the treatment of addiction is the adoption of the hypoglycemic diet.

Insulin resistance interferes with the conversion of sugars (carbohydrates) and other food substances into Biological Energy called (ATP).  That energy is necessary to convert certain nutrients in food such as Tryptophan into serotonin – our feel good neurotransmitter.  If the brain is starved of energy it will trigger the release of stress hormones – such as adrenaline. This helps to convert sugar stores – glycogen – back into glucose so as to feed the brain with energy again. (See image) But internally driven stress hormones cause us to experience fear without an external object of fear, in other words ‘anxiety’.

People with insulin resistance tend to feel depressed – although they may not be aware of it. The first experience of smoking marijuana is usually remembered as a “high”, which is the opposite of how they feel usually. Hence they want to use drugs to feel high again (or non-depressed again). Unfortunately the more they use, the worse they start to feel and the more they want to use drugs to feel high (or normal) again. Addiction to marijuana often leads to the use of much powerful drugs, such as heroin or cocaine. Non-hypoglycemic people usually have a choice to leave the drug or not and do not usually experience a “high”.  On the contrary, they may feel ill at the first encounter with the drug.  Of course because of our unique biochemical make-up our experiences with a drug use may be different from others and unique.

The usual symptoms of withdrawal from marijuana are anxiety attack, insomnia and depression. These are seen as the precursors in milder form that gave rise to relief when using the drug for the first time. Studies have shown that substance abuse is more common among teenagers with depression, than those without depression. NIMH

If we want to treat our addictions, we FIRST need to treat the underlying biochemical abnormality that is responsible for our addictive personality. Withdrawal from the drug is only secondary to this! Most addicts withdraw gradually from their drug of addiction. Thus relapsing should be considered the norm, rather than a failure. Sticking to the treatment by sticking to the hypoglycemic diet is more important!!

Your success in abstaining from the drug depends on the treatment. Furthermore, it also depends on the damage done to brain cells. It may take up to six months to rid the body of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the active ingredient of marijuana. As a fat-soluble chemical substance it remains lodged in the fatty tissues of organs, such as in membranes of brain cells. This explains also the amotivational syndrome associated with marijuana addiction.

Other more heavier drugs including alcohol may damage the receptors for neurotransmitters in the brain. This may take up to a year to repair with a high protein diet. Some damage may be permanent in rare cases. Volkow ND et als. PuMeds  and PMID 11717374

One way of speeding up THC detoxification is by way of regular strenuous sweat-producing exercises or having sauna bath.   If you become addicted to these daily exercises it means that you are producing natural endorphins, which may help you to withdraw properly.  To fight the cravings it may help to use Glycerine, which will also  stop anxiety attacks, insomnia, wild mood swings.

.  See also: Nature’s Road to Recovery: Nutritional Supplements for Recovery.. by Bet M Ley Jacobs and other articles mentioned below. Another recently marketed product goes by the name of Maritox, that should be tried out.

Thus treatment is a long process, but provided you stick to the hypoglycemic diet, ultimately the cravings for the drug will disappear. It is not a question of will-power, but of biology!

Drug Addiction is a Nutritional Disorder

Alcoholism is a Treatable Disease

Treatment of Drug Addiction

and discuss this with a Nutritional Doctor, Clinical Nutritionist or a Nutritional Psychotherapist, if self-help therapy fails. But most people can help themselves by going on a hypoglycemic diet.

And there is no such thing that you can continue to use your drug of addiction occasionally or recreationally after treatment. You will always be vulnerable to trigger the addiction when using the drug or the wrong diet! Sorry!


Once you start to feel better with the hypoglycemic diet, it may be worthwhile to study the self-help psychotherapy course, which will help you to regain self-confidence, understand other people’s personalities, learn to communicate at a more intimate levels and clarify your values system and that of others.

Please discuss this article with your health care worker, doctor or nutritional doctor or therapist.


What is Hypoglycemia?

The Serotonin Connection

Depression – a Disease of Energy Production

Silent Diseases and Mood Disorders

Hit or Miss Supplements for Depression

PTSD and Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia: is it a cure-all for mental illness?

The Hypoglycemic Diet

Allergies; the Food and Disease Paradigm

How to find you allergies.

Conquering Anxiety, Depression and Fatigue Without Drugs – the Role of Hypoglycemia by Professor Joel H. Levitt

Index to Specific Topics and Research

References to Mood Disorders and Nutrition

Other treatments for Depressions  here

8 Responses

  1. Jordan says:

    You are completely hypothesizing, and it’s a really bad hypothesis at that, that the possible cannabinoid traces left in the fatty tissues of the brain somehow contribute to or cause “amotivational syndrome”. I mean… physiologically it really has no basis, the only valid conjecture is THC byproducts may be stored in the brain fat, which is rater obvious. Not to mention that the idea of “amotivational syndrome” is rather narrow minded and misguided. How is one amotivational if they work a full time job and smoke weed nearly everyday after work (This is your average frequent marijuana smoker) and they pay bills and live pretty much like everyone else in the USA,UK,AU,and EU? If your main goal is to be high, then you get high, well your not going to do much. It’s really more about ones goals and somewhat about the sedative nature of marijuana – not to surprising

    • Jurriaan Plesman says:

      I agree if you enjoy marijuana and it does interfer with your life’s goals, you probably have not sn addictive personalit. Unfortunately there not many pot smokers who fall into that category. But before you make these rash judgements, I suggest you have a look at some of the studies that show that people smoking marijuan are at risk of developing s schizophrenia.

  2. Jordan says:

    but other than that great article I have some problems with marijuana and there really is no physiological basis. Mentally I stress myself out. Most people smoke weed because they have nothing better to do. They are to afraid to make change in their lives, reflect on themselves and all the important stuff out there, to drop the weed and go do something. I couldn’t find the motivation in me to stop smoking until I decided on having some purpose in life. Otherwise why not be high?

    • Jurriaan Plesman says:

      Do you need a drug to feel high? People who live an exciting life feel high all the time. Have you thought of the possibility, that your need to feel high may due to depression?

      • paul says:

        I used to live an exciting life without weed and trust me, it’s not the same high! i started smoking around 16 and i still do it today (im 20 now) tho i wanna quit now because of various reasons! the hardest part is tho, when i think about not getting high anymore because its such a relief to me! it just makes all the stress go away instantly after a hard day of work or similar! writing this actually makes me wanna smoke one! i think the main problem is the actual “abuse” of the drug, meaning to wake up and get high (which can be so fun at times) EVERYDAY without a day for your brain to readjust to reality! i think this is also a problem that comes from the criminilization of Marihuana! kids like me grow up, see other people smoke weed ,not only because its actually fun at times, but also because its illegal! thats the most interesting part about it! i started drinking way earlier (14/15) but i never really got hooked to it! i love drinking a beer here and there and get wasted maybe twice a month or so but not on a daily basis! what do you think about it jurrian? i really did dig your article btw, tho i wouldnt agree with everything that u have said


        • Jurriaan Plesman says:

          Your idea of having fun on drugs is simply when you use drugs it produces a high (feeling relaxed), because without drugs you are producing too much stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) and feeling stressed, which is seen as normal by you. Once you are on a diet that reduces the production of stress hormones you don’t need drugs to feel “normal”(high) again. The first step is going on a hypoglycemic diet and use glycerine to help you with withdrawal symptoms. The real fun starts when you can enjoy fun without having to use drugs!
          Go to Research Evidence for Hypoglycemia and look for HEMAT.

  3. JJ says:

    Great article… I managed to quit smoking 2 months ago and have recently noticed all the skinny, grumpy stoners that don’t eat anything (used to be me). I’ve been mildly hypo most of my life and the absolute worst thing I did during marijuana cessation was try to give my taste buds a treat and eat mad fast food. Every time I ate that crap I would end up at my dealers house like 2 hours later with some cooky justification for relapse. I finally managed to kick it after going paleo (the only non-paleo foods I eat are pasta and basmati rice) and put two and two together today. Thanks for helping to confirm my suspicions!

  4. Myriam says:

    Hi lovely people:

    Here is my story, I consume a brownie with marijuana when I was about 22 ( I am 29 now) and since it was my first time it was a shocking and terrible expierence (yes, I know. I’ve should smoke it first). Not very after that I started to feel “high” withouht the weed in my body. I started to feel really scare because I started to imagine that I was steel on marihuana or something like that. Later I found that I had hypoglycemia but I can’t stop thinking in that very first experience. Since there I try to avoid places where there is people smoking, I even stop going to parties because all my body stress out if I smell or see smock. I tried to eat often so I don’t get panick attack or any other symptom of hypoglicemia. The bad thing is that I think I developed sort of like a phobia and I don’t know what to do.

    Any thoughts?

    Hugs to everyone

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