Nfld. & Labrador

Nearly destroyed by pot, former addict worries others will be hooked by legal marijuana

An eastern Newfoundland woman says she lost two-thirds of her body weight while using pot, and compares the addiction to cocaine or alcohol.

'Just as bad as a cocaine addict,' says woman who stopped sleeping, eating while using pot

A Newfoundland woman is warning that marijuana can be addictive. (Shutterstock)

An eastern Newfoundland woman, who says marijuana use almost destroyed her, fears legalization of the drug will harm many more people.

"It makes me scared, angry and disappointed. I turned into an addict from weed and they're going to turn more people into me. Very sick people," she said.

I needed it to survive. I didn't care how it hurt other people. I didn't care what it was doing to me.- Jane Doe

"This is my problem with legalizing weed — they are going to turn more people into addicts."

CBC News has agreed to protect her identity and call her Jane Doe.

She said she knows that most people who use marijuana don't become addicted to it or even dependent on it but Jane Doe said she's proof that some people can become powerfully addicted to cannabis.

"Anything that you need in order to function is addictive," she said.

"I needed it to survive. I didn't care how it hurt other people. I didn't care what it was doing to me. That's an addict."

Doe has stopped using cannabis but said there was a time when constant marijuana use had a profound, negative impact on her health. She stopped sleeping and eating and her weight dropped from about 300 pounds to 104 pounds.

"All I did all day long was smoke weed. I'm just as bad an addict as a cocaine addict, as a heroin addict, as an alcoholic."

Addictive personalities

The leader of a Conception Bay North group that helps people with addictions said he has no doubt that Jane Doe is right.

"People do get addicted to it," said Jeff Bourne, the executive director of U-Turn, an addictions drop-in centre in Carbonear.
Jeff Bourne battled an addiction to cocaine before becoming the executive director of the U-Turn addictions drop-in centre in Carbonear. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

"I've got an addictive personality. So to me a drug is a drug, no matter if it is alcohol, marijuana or cocaine. It is all addictive. So if some people got an addictive personality, well they're going to get addicted."

Bourne said he has mixed emotions about marijuana legalization. He hopes it will mean that people who use it will have access to a safe supply of cannabis that isn't mixed with other potentially dangerous substances.

Supported by science

An addictions prevention consultant with Eastern Health said research supports the idea that marijuana is addictive.

"The answer is yes. Absolutely, marijuana is an addictive substance," said Wayne Bishop.
Wayne Bishop, an addictions prevention consultant with Eastern Health, says research shows marijuana can be physically and psychologically addictive. (Mark Quinn/ CBC)

"Roughly 12 percent of Canadians used marijuana in the past year. Of that 12 per cent, we know that approximately nine per cent will develop some sort of substance-related disorder connected to the marijuana use."

Bishop said research also shows that marijuana can be both psychologically and physically addictive.

He added that people who become addicted and then stop using cannabis do experience withdrawal symptoms such as body sweats, pain and physical discomfort.

They can also experience anxiety and stress, he said, as they go through psychological withdrawal.