Marijuana is a drug that comes from a cannabis plant and is called many different names including pot, bud, grass, Mary Jane, and many other slang names. Marijuana can be consumed in many different ways and many different forms. Typically the drug is dried, ground up, and smoked, but it also comes in other forms such as edibles, liquids for THC pens, wax-like substances, and even in a crystal form. Marijuana is legal in some states, recreationally, or for medical purposes, but in most states is still an illegal substance. The main psychoactive chemical that is responsible for producing a high is called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.
Is Marijuana an Addictive Drug?
Marijuana is a psychoactive drug and THC is the chemical compound that produces the high and causes the effects of the drug. THC triggers a release of the feel-good chemicals called dopamine in the brain. Dopamine causes euphoric sensations that we associate with feeling high. The effects and the strength can vary depending on how the drug is consumed. Millions of people can pick up and put down marijuana pretty easily. But this is not the case for everyone. For some people, the use of this drug poses a significant likelihood of developing an addiction.
Can You Become Dependent on Marijuana?
Only 138,000 of those people voluntarily went to treatment for their marijuana addiction. Marijuana use disorder is associated with dependence. This is when a person experiences withdrawal symptoms when the drug is not taken and the symptoms can include mood and sleep difficulties, irritability, decreased appetite, restlessness, cravings, and sometimes even forms of physical discomfort. Marijuana use disorder turns into addiction when a person cannot stop using the drug even though it is interfering with many different aspects of their life. Marijuana addiction signs can also include complete loss of control, meaning the user cannot stop even when they want to. They may be also neglecting activities and responsibilities. This is all caused by the chemical compound THC in marijuana. According to the National Institutes of Health:
Recent data suggest that 30% of those who use marijuana may have some degree of marijuana use disorder… In 2015, about 4.0 million people in the United States met the diagnostic criteria for a marijuana use disorder.
Over the years, the potency of marijuana has steadily increased. In the early ’90s, the average THC content in marijuana was less than 4%. Nowadays, it has skyrocketed to more than 15% THC. This increasing potency of this drug joined with high THC content raises a lot of concern that the consequences of marijuana use now are worse than they were in the past. Researchers are still unaware of the full extent of the consequences to the body and the brain that high concentrations of THC have because it is such a new spike.
Negative Effects from Chronic Marijuana Use
There is a very common misconception that chronic marijuana use has no negative physical effects on a person. This is false. While it may not be as frequent as other addictions, like methamphetamines or heroin, this does not mean that there are not dangerous risks involved. Some physical consequences associated with marijuana addiction include decreased energy, increased heart rate, risk of lung cancer, anxiety and depression, mental impairment, and an increased risk of a heart attack. Marijuana may not be as life-threatening physically as addiction to other substances, but it certainly has just as strong of a hold on a person as other substances, and getting sober from it can be just as difficult. If you feel you need help getting sober and staying sober from marijuana, our treatment specialists are standing by to help you here at Evoke Wellness.