Marijuana addiction is a huge issue, even before it legalizes in twenty-three states. Most advocates of marijuana use, both medicinal and recreational, are skeptical or flat out deny the pot’s addictive properties. However, the National Institute of Health reports that cannabis dependence is twice as prevalent as dependence on other psychoactive drugs, such as cocaine and heroin. One of the reasons pot can lead to it is the brain’s chemistry.
- Part of the side effects of weed use is a psychological and physical dependency.
Statistically, 9% of people who use marijuana will become addicted to it. After continual use, it can become an intense obsession.
Today there still seems to be some debate about whether you can become addicted to cannabis or not. But, make no mistake about it; marijuana can be very addictive, especially if it has a dependency personality.
Surgeon General’s 2016 report entitled “Facing Addiction in America” describes marijuana as one of the “most addictive drugs.”
Clinical studies, diagnostic and laboratory research, and anecdotal evidence have shown that marijuana use can lead to dependence, abuse, and dependency.
Marijuana over-stimulates the endocannabinoid system in the brain, leading to both psychological and physical dependency. Nearly 10 percent of people who
It is the first evidence of dependency. When one uses it for the first time, a few puffs are enough to feel the effects. After prolonged use, it takes more breaths for you to feel the same impact. If one does not use the drug but starts experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, loss of appetite, and insomnia, it means dependency has set in.
Withdrawal symptoms often signify marijuana tolerance – Use crosses the line when the body or brain rewards that use. Tolerance means that the body is rewarding excessive use of the drug. Conversely, withdrawal symptoms represent a negative response that rewards the use of the drug with a lack of side effects. This lesser feeling becomes something the addict anticipates.
There is a genetic component. Users with a specific genetic profile have a much higher chance of becoming addicted to marijuana than others. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to identify the gene responsible for it before someone starts using marijuana. Thus, if you choose to start using marijuana, you are taking a significant risk. On the other hand, if you have the gene that corresponds with it, you are almost sure to become addicted, at which point you are at high risk for the significant side effects of the drug, including memory degradation.
Cannabis Withdrawal Syndrome (CWS) resembles symptoms of withdrawal from other so-called “harder” drugs. Withdrawal, which starts 24 to 48 hours after abstinence, can be difficult and painful enough that many users find it difficult to quit for very long. The symptoms peak in four to six days, but withdrawal can last from one to three weeks. Marijuana withdrawal syndrome can include a variety of symptoms. Diagnostic criteria exemplifying escape of marijuana include but are not limited to these complaints:
- Anger, Irritability, Mood Swings
- Depression, Anxiety, Restlessness
- Sleep Disturbances
- Decreased Appetite
- Drug Cravings
- Stomach Aches
- Sweating, Fever
Cannabis Use Disorder
A bonafide condition is known as “Cannabis Use Disorder,” as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Approximately 15 million people meet the medical criteria for weed addiction and need treatment.
Altering the brain structure is a common denominator. In 2014, Harvard researchers recruited 20 weed users and 20 non-users to investigate whether marijuana discernibly modified brain volume. Results showed that subjects smoking weed experienced topography changes, density, and size in the amygdala and nucleus accumbens.
MRI scans revealed that the volume of gray matter in light and heavy weed smokers is lower. Regions of gray matter include a network of structures that control emotions, learning, reward, and, in particular, motivation.
There’s a collaboration between cannabinoid receptors and opioid receptors in the brain. For example, THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, triggers the same receptors as morphine, OxyContin, and heroin. These receptors release dopamine, which activates the brain’s reward or “feels good” centers. The close connection between opioid and cannabinoid receptors proves that marijuana has its potential.
Research on the long-term effects of marijuana abuse indicates some changes in the brain similar to those seen after long-term abuse of other major drugs. For example, cannabis withdrawal in chronically exposed animals leads to increased activation of the stress-response system and changes in nerve cells’ activity containing dopamine. Dopamine neurons regulate motivation and reward and are directly or indirectly affected by all abuse of drugs.
Several studies have shown an association between chronic marijuana use and increased mental illness such as anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and schizophrenia. In addition, some of these studies have shown age at first used to be a factor, where early use is a marker of vulnerability to later problems. However, at this time, it is not clear whether marijuana use can cause mental problems and exacerbates them in an attempt to self-medicate symptoms already in existence.
These were the numbers 2-3 years ago, and the laws have changed dramatically to make smoking pot much more accessible. According to the U.S. government statistics (SAMHSA).
- Marijuana is the most-used drug after alcohol and tobacco in the United States
- In 2014, about 22.2 million people ages 12 and up reported using marijuana during the past month
- Also, in 2014, there were 2.6 million people who had used marijuana for the first time
- People between the ages of 12 and 49 report first using the drug at an average age of 18.5
- In the past year, 4.2 million people ages 12 and up met the criteria for a substance use disorder
- In 2013, 5.7 million persons aged 12 or older used marijuana daily
- In 2016, 8.1 million persons aged 12 and up used on 20 or more days in the past month
Marijuana comes from the dried leaves, stems, seeds, and flowering tops of the cannabis Sativa plant. It has been around for recreational purposes and medical treatment for hundreds of years.
Tests show that THC, the active compound in marijuana, alters the neurotransmitter to the spinal cord, resulting in pain relief. THC also stimulates appetite, commonly called “the munchies,” and induces a relaxation state.
- Medical marijuana treats chronic pain.
Cannabis is considered a hallucinogen. A hallucinogen is a substance that distorts how one’s mind perceives the world where it lives. It is known as cannabis, among other names. People smoke it like a cigarette (joint or blunt), inhaled through vapor or using a pipe. It can be mixed with food or brewed as tea.
When a person smokes it, they start to feel the effects in a matter of minutes.Some of the immediate sensations they will experience include;
- increased heart rate
- unreal state of mind
- lessened coordination
- increased appetite
Here is a chart generally showing how long marijuana stays in your system.
Marijuana has two main species, which are Indica and Sativa though there are others. Each of the two has their unique characteristics and have a different high.
Multiple states have legalized the sale and consumption of recreational weed. In addition, most states now allow the use of medicinal marijuana. twenty-three states, including California, Vermont, Nevada, and Arizona, have already legalized marijuana for recreational use. So it’s simply a matter of time, suggest pro-pot advocates.
States where recreational marijuana is legal 2022
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- Rhode Island
- Washington, D.C.
Then, hopefully, states will take the initiative in performing valid studies on the adverse side effects of chronic, long-term marijuana use and not focus solely on revenue. After all, the lives of people are more critical than high profits.
Even though the federal government still considers pot illegal, it would be shortsighted to expect state marijuana laws to revert.
It is arguably the most common species. Sativa is a large plant that reaches a height of 2 to 6 meters, but it does not have dense foliage. It is dried, cured, and processed before consumption. As a result, it has a more energizing and stimulating effect. In addition, it has a high ratio of THC and CBN, which are the two most frequent active compounds in cannabis.
Indica is denser than Sativa, but it is much shorter and reaches a height of 1 to 3 meters tall on average. The indicia also flower more rapidly when compared to Sativa. It has been traditionally chosen in the making of hashish because it has a high volume of resin. In addition, it has a high amount of CBN, sometimes more than THC, and it has a strong feeling of getting stoned.
Weed has 113 cannabinoids, but THC’s most potent and psychoactive agent. After smoking cannabis, THC is quick to get into the bloodstream, and within minutes it reaches the brain. When ingested, the body absorbs THC slowly, and the user starts to feel the effects after two hours.
- THC is similar to the cannabinoids produced in the human brain.
Natural cannabinoids usually act as neurotransmitters, and they send chemical messages between the nerve cells. THC affects the hippocampus and the orbitofrontal cortex, areas of pain that control attention and memory. It also disrupts the functioning of the cerebellum and the basal ganglia; this adversely affects balance, coordination, and reaction time.
THC also stimulates cannabinoid receptors that increase dopamine release related to a feeling of pleasure. This effect often leads to drug misuse. It is used as a recreational drug to achieve relaxation and giddiness.
Short-term side effects include;
- Decrease in short term memory
- Dry mouth
- Impaired motor skills
- Feelings of paranoia and or anxiety
- Mood alteration and euphoria<
- Increased heart rate
- Reduction in blood pressure
- Memory and concentration impairment
- Rapid breathing
Long term effects include;
- Decreased mental ability
- Behavioral problems in a child whose mother used it during her pregnancy
- According to the United Nations, over 158.8 million people worldwide use marijuana, 3.8% of the planet’s population.
- After alcohol, cannabis is the second most frequent substance in the bodies of drivers involved in fatal car accidents.
- Marijuana is widespread among adolescents and young adults. In 2015, 11.8% of 8th graders reported the use of marijuana in the past year. 6% said they used marijuana daily or nearly daily
- Medical emergencies related to marijuana use increased by two-thirds.
- The percentage of youth that perceives the drug to be harmful went down. About seven in ten Americans believe that alcohol is more damaging to the health of a person when compared to marijuana. It means there is an increase in the number of youths that start using.
- 53% of Americans support the legalization of marijuana compared to 44% of the opposition
According to a study, marijuana use mostly starts in adolescence. The study shows that 78% of the people who began using marijuana were between 12 and 20 years old in the past year. Marijuana use among teens might hurt their developing brains. Regular and heavy use of marijuana among teens can lead to an IQ drop of 8 points. Studies have shown marijuana interferes with motivation, attention, learning, and memory. Hence regular users have reduced intellectual levels.
- Lower grades and scores on their exams
- Less likelihood of enrolling in college
- Less likely to graduate high school or college
- Lower satisfaction in life
- Higher likelihood of earning a lower income or being unemployed
Researchers found that the amount of cancer-producing chemicals exposed to after consuming one joint equals one who smoked five cigarettes. In addition, research suggests that the use of marijuana is likely to come before the use of other drugs.
- Therefore, it is a gateway drug.
According to a study, of all those who started using marijuana before they were 15, 62% later used cocaine at some point in their lives, 9% used heroin at least once, and 54% used prescription drugs. Contrary to what most people believe, research suggests that 30% of users may develop some degree of dependency and, in severe cases, get addicted.