Author: Alex Thompson

Is marijuana addictive? National Institute on Drug Abuse NIDA

marijuana addiction

This condition can be diagnosed by a healthcare professional such as a medical doctor or psychologist. Treatment methods include psychotherapy (talk therapy) and medications. More specifically, motivational interviewing, contingency management, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may be used. Medications to control cravings may be used alongside nonmedicinal interventions.

marijuana addiction

Volkow explained that the patterns of activity in the brain shift from the drug activating reward centers to activating other, nearby regions related to the formation of habits. “The most common genetic legacy relating to addiction is inherited boredom,” explained Stalcup. What they have scientifically is a pleasure system that’s about 20 percent below normal. One marijuana user, Conrad, age 47, of San Francisco, said that when he can’t smoke, he drinks more. The conversation around marijuana use has become more nuanced since the World War II era film “Reefer Madness” portrayed the drug as destructive and dangerous.

Know the Risks of Marijuana

For many, it’s difficult to imagine a life in which using drugs is more important than spending time with friends or doing favorite hobbies. It’s certainly difficult to imagine using drugs despite major consequences, such as a suspended driver’s license or prison time. A 2014 study examined people who use drugs and who came to the emergency room with drug-related problems, which is a strong indicator that something is not manageable. “There are people who have a glass or two of wine a day,” said Hart. “In fact, a glass or two of wine a day is considered healthy… Now, you certainly might see some sort of withdrawal symptom if someone’s been drinking for a few years and they abruptly stop doing that.

THC acts on specific brain cell receptors that ordinarily react to natural THC-like chemicals. These natural chemicals play a role in normal brain development and function. More than 1 in 10 drinkers say they have used marijuana in the past year. Combining alcohol and marijuana at the same time roughly doubled the odds of drunk driving or legal, professional, or personal problems, compared to drinking alone. Many people who use marijuana regularly notice that it boosts their appetite.

Studies of identical twins raised in different families support this theory. They have higher rates of an addiction co-occurring, which means that if one of them develops an addiction, the other is at greater risk for developing one, than fraternal twins raised apart.

For those with PTSD who experience nightmares, it shuts down the process by which dreams form in the brain. The use disorder, according to researchers, can morph into an addiction when the person can’t stop using the drug even when it interferes with their daily activities. Millions of Americans can pick up, and put down, marijuana relatively easily. For some, marijuana use poses a substantial likelihood of developing an addiction. Higher THC levels may also mean a greater risk for addiction if people are regularly exposing themselves to high doses.

Long-Term Effects

People have reported symptoms such as anxiety and paranoia, and in rare cases, an extreme psychotic reaction (which can include delusions and hallucinations) that can lead them to seek treatment in an emergency room. More research is needed to know if secondhand marijuana smoke has similar health risks as secondhand tobacco smoke. A recent study on rats suggests that secondhand marijuana smoke can do as much damage to the heart and blood vessels as secondhand tobacco smoke.20But researchers haven’t fully explored the effect of secondhand marijuana smoke on humans. What they do know is that the toxins and tar found in marijuana smoke could affect vulnerable people, such as children or people with asthma. When people begin using marijuana as teenagers, the drug may impair thinking, memory, and learning functions and affect how the brain builds connections between the areas necessary for these functions. Researchers are still studying how long marijuana’s effects last and whether some changes may be permanent.

A 2017 study reported that adult cancer patients are using marijuana to ease nausea and other symptoms. One study stated that medical marijuana can help children with seizures and chemotherapy-induced nausea. In recent years, there have been a number of studies that have highlighted the use marijuana in treating certain medical conditions.

  1. “It has long been acknowledged that cannabis is a mood-altering substance with some potential for risk, including the risk of dependence.
  2. A person first uses a substance such as marijuana repeatedly.
  3. The main psychoactive ingredient, THC, stimulates the part of your brain that responds to pleasure, like food and sex.
  4. “There are people who have a glass or two of wine a day,” said Hart.

For instance, the odds of addiction are 1 in 6 if you use marijuana in your teens. It might be as high as 1 in 2 among those who use it every day. The chronic relapsing nature of addiction seems to involve underlying neurophysiological changes in reward, stress, and executive function circuits (Koob and Volkow 2016). Here we summarize findings about the effects of chronic cannabis use on these circuits.

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No medications are currently available to treat marijuana use disorder, but behavioral support has been shown to be effective. Examples include therapy and motivational incentives (providing rewards to patients who remain drug-free). Continuing research may lead to new medications that help ease withdrawal symptoms, block the effects of marijuana, and prevent relapse. The negative effects of marijuana are not limited to recreational marijuana. Like other medicinal treatments for medical conditions, medicinal marijuana can have negative effects even though it is used to treat medical conditions.

Marijuana Can Be Addictive: Who Gets Hooked and Why

Imaging tests with some – but not all – adolescents found that marijuana may physically change their brains. Specifically, they had fewer connections in parts of the brain linked to alertness, learning, and memory, and tests show lower IQ scores in some people. This could cause you to rely more on opioids to ease the pain. If you use these drugs more, you’re at risk for opioid use disorder. If you think you’re addicted to marijuana, getting an early diagnosis can help with treatment and prevent the risk of chronic conditions like schizophrenia. Volkow thinks that this decreased response to dopamine is likely caused by marijuana use.

They call this “the munchies.” Some research suggests that might help people with AIDS, cancer, or other illnesses regain weight. If you need more anesthesia to fall asleep because of your pot use, you’re at a higher risk of low blood pressure and a delayed wake-up after surgery. People who have recently used or chronically use marijuana might take longer to empty their stomachs. Because of this, if you use pot, you’re at risk of your stomach contents coming back up into your throat and being sucked into your lungs before your anesthesiologist is able to put in your breathing tube. Psychosis is a symptom of a serious medical condition called schizophrenia.

It’s short for cannabidiol, a substance found in both marijuana and hemp plants. CBD can be made into CBD oil and sold as pills, gels, creams, and other formulas. Some people use CBD to treat pain, seizures, and other health problems. But scientists aren’t yet sure how well it works or if it’s safe over the long term. Lack of regulation means you can’t always know exactly what you’re buying. Using pot heavily, especially in your teen years, may leave more permanent effects.

Substance use resources are also available in local communities and at the state level. People smoke marijuana in hand-rolled cigarettes (joints) or in pipes or water pipes (bongs). They also smoke it in blunts—emptied cigars that have been partly or completely refilled with marijuana. These devices pull the active ingredients (including THC) from the marijuana and collect their vapor in a storage unit. But that can jump to 70 to 120 beats or more per minute for 3 hours after the effects kick in. The added strain plus tar and other chemicals in pot may raise your chance of having a heart attack or stroke.

Therefore, hyperactivation by exogenous cannabinoids during development could disrupt the maturation of GABAergic interneurons in the PFC and desynchronize PFC circuits (Caballero and Tseng 2012). Thus, adolescent cannabis use may affect brain development and result in enduring alterations in the GABA/glutamate balance in the PFC (Renard et al. 2016). Cognitive dysfunction, specifically impairments in executive domains, after chronic cannabis use is a key feature of the neurobiological model of addiction (Koob and Volkow 2016). Deficits in executive function after chronic cannabis use have been shown in both preclinical and clinical studies.