10/27/20: Drug AddictionSubstance abuse disorder is caused by the dependence of substances that causes euphoric effects on the brain when they are consumed. Alcohol, cocaine, heroin, and various other prescription medicines are known to have chemicals that can cause addiction. However, there is one substance that most people are still unsure about – marijuana. Many, including some of the medical experts, believe that marijuana is not addictive and in fact, has various medical benefits such as relieving pain caused due to cancer and other chronic diseases. However, there are also people arguing on the fact that this substance has highly addictive properties and can cause some serious damage to a healthy body. While both sides have credible reasons to support their claims, the fact that this substance is addictive cannot be denied. It could be possible that a majority of marijuana smokers may not develop an addiction, but some of them do experience physical and psychological dependence on the drug.
What is Marijuana Addiction?Marijuana is also known as weed, grass, pot, herb, ganja, bud, mary jane, and other common street names. The substance comes in the form of dried leaves, seeds, flowers, and stems of the Cannabis sativa plant, which contains the mind-altering chemical THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) and other compounds adding to its addictive traits. In the United States, marijuana continues to be the most commonly consumed illegal substance. It is typically smoked in a water pipe called bong or is hard-rolled into a cigarette called a joint. Many people who smoke weed do not even come close to being addicted to marijuana. They smoke when they want, get the euphoric effects they are looking for, and then forget about it until the next use. Unlike those with an addiction, these people do not lose control of their consumption and take it in limited quantities. When an individual smokes weed, a neurotransmitter called anandamide activates the cannabinoid receptors in their brain. The THC in marijuana mimics and blocks actions of anandamide to a point where their body no longer produces enough anandamide on its own. This way, the user's brain gets rewired to need weed just to feel normal. If the user decides to not use marijuana, then the lack of THC in their body will account for the withdrawal symptoms. And this pushes them to use more even if they want to call it to quit. This is a strong indication of the stage that's called marijuana addiction.
Effects of Marijuana AddictionMarijuana can either be smoked or ingested via food and brewing in tea. While the former has quick effects on the brain, the latter takes time. Ultimately, the THC in marijuana targets the neurotransmitters in our brain that control feelings of pleasure, thinking, memory, sensory, time perception, concentration, and mind-body coordination. The over-activation of the brain's endocannabinoid system causes euphoric effects which make an individual feel high. So, when a user keeps abusing marijuana, it leads them to a point where they can no longer feel anything in the absence of this drug. They feel the following effects:
- Bad mind-body coordination.
- Difficulty in maintaining proper focus
- Lack of concentration and bad problem-solving capability.
- Frequent mood swings and an altered perception
- Reduced appetite.
Symptoms of Marijuana AddictionAn individual who is addicted to marijuana can portray several health implications including physical and mental abnormalities, however, they will display some of the classic behavioral symptoms often seen in addicts of any sort. These are:
- Lose control and the urge to consume more to feel the same high.
- Spending more time thinking about using the drug.
- Denying the use of the substance and lying about situations related to them consuming.
- Substance use overpowers their personal life.
- Becomes aggressive and irritated in the absence of the substance.
- Any negative situation pushes them more into using the drug.
Withdrawal SymptomsA majority of people who are stuck with addiction want to quit substance abuse and live a healthy and normal life yet again. However, the overuse of addictive and harmful substances has already damaged their brain and reprogrammed it to depend completely on the drug. In the case of marijuana addiction, the brain no longer naturally produces chemicals that are responsible for making us feel certain emotions. Thus, the user feels the uncontrollable urges to consume again and again to be able to feel emotions. Even if they do try to quit, withdrawal symptoms haunt them and degrade their physical and psychological health to a level that they have to start using again. For marijuana addicts, the following withdrawal symptoms can be observed:
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive salivation
- Aggression and irritability
- Frequent and sudden mood swings
- Lack of sleep and anxiety
- Decreased pulse rate
- Excessive sweating
TreatmentWhether it's the marijuana that is grown to become more potent, or it is the more widespread use of the drug across the globe, the cases of marijuana addiction have been skyrocketing. According to various studies, the number of teenagers and children who sought treatment for cannabis addiction has increased by 142% since 1992. Also, thanks to the stigma around addiction that those suffering do not disclose their condition until and unless it becomes painfully unbearable for them to suffer the negative consequences. Many people who do seek treatment are often encouraged and motivated to do so by their friends, family, colleagues, or even by the judicial system. The number of patients seeking self-treatment is less.
ConclusionAddiction disorder of any sort is sure a complex disease but is definitely curable. People just have to fight the stigma that society has established as a roadblock. Once they do that, the journey to achieving long-term sobriety begins and addiction is left far far behind.s
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