The signs of being a total stoner.

Remember when marijuana was touted as “the gateway drug” because it was believed to lead to addiction to harder stuff like cocaine and heroin?  Now it’s known as the “to-be or not-to-be-taxed drug.” Medical marijuana is legally bought and sold in 23 states and the District of Columbia. Two of those states legalized marijuana for recreational use. The question is no longer can you smoke it, but if pot really shackles its users with dependency, turning a segment of them into addicts like its prohibition-surviving predecessor, alcohol.

Allan Israel Frankel, MD, an internist in Marina del Rey, California, prescribes medicinal marijuana for everything from migraines to anorexia. He claims that marijuana has no addictive qualities, and "should be as concerning, as far as withdrawal and addiction, as a kid drinking Coca-Cola every day."  Tell this to the National Institute On Drug Abuse, whose position is non-waffling: "Contrary to common belief, marijuana is addictive." 

"The real problem started with the pot shops," Nico Julian, a 48-year-old film sound technician and former weed smoker explains. Once he got a prescription card that enabled him to get whatever he wanted in his Los Angeles neighborhood’s marijuana dispensaries, there was "this physical craving," he says. "I needed it to wake up, take a shower, go to work, I needed it for everything. It became the most important thing in my life." Julian now chooses abstinence, because no matter how hard he tried for moderation, he'd still end up barricaded at home with a full stash. 

Want to know if you’re at risk of addiction? Marijuana Anonymous has a boilerplate 12 questions to answer, including: 

  • Do you ever get high alone?
  • Do you smoke pot to cope with your feelings?
  • Have friends or relatives ever complained that your pot smoking is damaging your relationship with them?

A yes answer to any one means: "you may have a problem." (The now-abstinent Julian says he at one time answered yes to 11 of the 12.)

"It's not hard to miss the person who's stoned all the time," says Gary Fisher, PhD, an expert in the treatment of addictive disorders who has worked for 30-plus years as a counselor, administrator and therapist. Fisher points out "they're giggling, snacking, doing all the traditional stuff associated with pot use. You can see the change, all they want to do is sit around and watch TV." If pot is taking up the largest slice of the pie chart then the user might be in the vicinity of a problem.


  1. The 12 Questions of Marijuana Anonymous