Addiction is defined as an uncontrollable, compulsive craving, even in the face of severe consequences. Addiction, or physical dependence, occurs when the body adapts to a substance such as tobacco, alcohol or drugs. As the body adapts, it becomes tolerant of the substance and more is required to attain the same effect. Withdrawal results if use of the substance is suddenly stopped.
Because the symptoms of tolerance and withdrawal are dramatic and frightening, this physical dependence is what comes to mind first when we think about addiction.
However, the most fickle element of addiction is not physical, but emotional (or psychological). To a large degree, physical dependence is manageable through therapy, nutritional supplements and helpful medication, but the accompanying emotional dependence, which isn't obviously apparent and isn't directly measurable, is more difficult to identify and takes longer to treat.
Many people continue to believe that physical addiction is uncontrollable, while emotional dependence is far less serious. The mistaken belief is that emotional dependence is easy to resolve with determination and willpower.
Marijuana is at the center of the storm when it comes to the debate regarding emotional vs. physical addiction. Many experts claim that marijuana isn't physically addictive, and that the drug is safe compared to other "hard" drugs." However, most treatment professionals believe marijuana is an addictive substance, and the number of users seeking treatment continues to grow steadily.