Pot’s Addictive – Just Add Tobacco

Cannabis dependence risks and symptoms increase with cooccurring tobacco use

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(RxWiki News) Marijuana is the most commonly abused drug in the United States, and while most do not become dependent, a new study suggests adding tobacco to cannabis smoking makes it easier.

Researchers from the psychiatry department at the Yale University School of Medicine discovered that blending marijuana with tobacco increases dependence on the drug as well as its mind-altering effects.

"Talk to a therapist about marijuana dependence counseling."

“Cannabis users who also smoke tobacco are more dependent on cannabis, have more psychosocial problems, and have poorer cessation outcomes than those who use cannabis but not tobacco,” writes lead author Erica Peters, Ph.D., and colleagues.

“The converse does not appear to be the case.”

According to research findings, cigarette smokers and other tobacco users did not seem to use tobacco more often or have a harder time quitting when smoking a mix.

These discoveries were made through a systematic review of twenty-eight studies into the co-occurring usage of both substances. Sixteen of the studies investigated clinical diagnoses, such as cannabis use and tobacco use disorders, four examined psychosocial problems, while eleven recorded cessation outcomes.

The experiments typically compared blended substance use against a single-substance, either marijuana or tobacco.  

One review included a cross-sectional study of 481 U.S. marijuana users, and authors write, “Cannabis-tobacco use in the form of ‘blunts’ and ‘chasing’ cannabis with tobacco was associated with five symptoms of current cannabis dependence, while cannabis use [alone] in the form of ‘joints’ or ‘pipes’ was associated with only one symptom.”

These findings suggest the addition of tobacco to a marijuana "joint" causes the body to react significantly more to the combination of substances than it would to smoking it alone.  

Although only a small percentage of people typically become dependent on marijuana, making a habit of combining its use with tobacco will increase will increase the likelihood of addiction.  

Cannabis dependence is characterized by withdrawal from the substance, affecting sleep, appetite, concentration, mood, and perspiration. If you or a loved one is suffering, talk to a medical health professional.

The journal Addiction published this study on February 16, 2012, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse provided funding. Dr. Peters and colleague Kathleen Carroll report no conflicts of interest, while co-author Alan Budney, Ph.D., reports past consulting with G.W. Pharmaceuticals.

Last Updated:
February 25, 2012