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Is Marijuana Addictive?

Currently, in the United States, marijuana is legal recreationally for persons over the age of 18 in 14 states. At least 34 states have legalized marijuana either for recreational use or medical purposes. As many states continue to pass a bill for the legalization of recreational weed, we can expect these numbers to rise. With many states legalizing marijuana, it’s not surprising that people are left to wonder, is marijuana actually addictive? The short answer is yes. Marijuana can be troublesome for some individuals. Frequent marijuana use has been associated with the development of physiological dependence, withdrawal symptoms, and addiction. 

What Are My Odds?

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that roughly one in 10 marijuana users will become addicted. For individuals who begin using before the age of 18, that number rises to one in six. The American Addiction Center listed that about 4 million people struggled with marijuana addiction in 2017 and that over 200,000 received treatment for their addiction in 2015. 

Both the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Diagnostic Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) both identify marijuana as an addictive drug. The NIDA also adds that frequent marijuana users can develop problematic use, creating a marijuana use disorder. 

What is Marijuana Use Disorder?

Marijuana use disorders are often associated with dependence, meaning that an individual can feel withdrawal symptoms in the absence of that substance. For those that use frequently use marijuana and become dependent on its effects, they can experience the following withdrawal symptoms:

  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Mood and sleep difficulties
  • Decreased appetite
  • Other various forms of physical discomfort

These symptoms have been reported to last up to 2 weeks after quitting and sensitivity to its own endocannabinoid neurotransmitters.” The NIDA reports that marijuana dependence occurs when the brain adapts to large amounts of the substance, and while chemical dependency may not occur as with other substances, marijuana use interfering with a person’s life and an inability to stop using is one of the hallmarks of addiction.  

Signs of Marijuana Addiction

It is important to note that most people who use marijuana do not become addicted to it. Those who do become addicted or become dependent upon marijuana will most likely display the classic behavioral symptoms of addiction. These can include:

  • A need for an increase in usage due to having a higher tolerance
  • Spending more time thinking about using
  • The substance will begin to become a priority
  • Additional money and resources will be used to obtain the substance
  • They will start to displace erratic mood swings when they are running out or when they no longer have access to it
  • They will deny claims from others that the substance use has created negative changes

Marijuana and Legalization

As we see more states passing legalization bills for marijuana, the discussion surrounding marijuana addiction has become more complex. In recent years, there have been numerous studies highlighting the benefits of marijuana use to treat certain medical conditions.

One study reported that medical marijuana can help children with seizures and chemotherapy-induced nausea. A 2017 report listed how medical marijuana was being used to assist adult cancer patients with nausea and other symptoms. Some studies also indicate legalizing marijuana can help the misuse of opioids, alcohol, and other substances. 

On the other end of the spectrum, many people are worried about the damaging effects that come with the use of marijuana, such as its effect on an individual’s heart health, not to mention the damaging effects marijuana has shown on an individual’s brain functioning. 

Legalizing marijuana continues to be a controversial topic nationwide. The medical benefits it continues to show can’t be overlooked. Unfortunately, with the reports of inconsistent potency, and negative symptoms associated with its frequent use, having everybody on the same page when it comes to the legalization of cannabis continues to be a struggle. 

Although many states currently do recognize the benefits of marijuana and have chosen to legalize its use, it is not legal federally. In fact, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) still lists marijuana as a schedule 1 drug. Meaning that drugs within this category have no accepted medical use and have a high potential for abuse. The classification marijuana falls under is why so many people have a difficult time when it comes to who supports the legalization of marijuana. 

Additionally, there are issues with the inconsistent and increased potency surrounding marijuana. Research conducted by the NIDA listed that in 1990, the average THC content in confiscated marijuana samples was just under 4 percent. In 2014, the THC content had risen to 12 percent. 

The controversies, opinions, and disagreements surrounding the legalization of marijuana will continue to ongoing, but what the majority of people can agree on is the decriminalization of it. 

More recent studies have shown that marijuana is not only on the rise but that it is a drug of choice. The medical benefits continue to increase: individuals suffering from depression and PTSD, anxiety, as well as certain eating disorders have also reported gaining benefits from marijuana use. Doctors and patients continue to agree that marijuana use can also help those with cancer-related symptoms. Regardless of the benefits and legalization of marijuana, a person can still become addicted to it. Those who do require a marijuana addiction can receive professional help. If you or someone you know is suffering from a marijuana addiction reach out to Achieve Concierge today. We have trained professionals who are here to help. Call us today at (858) 221-0344.

The Dangers of Teens Using Marijuana

The Dangers of Teens Using Marijuana

Marijuana is a safe drug. At least that’s what advocates for marijuana use want us to believe. There are many names for cannabis, including pot and weed. Search the internet with any of these names, and you will find research and claims regarding how safe it is.

Chat rooms, websites, and social media sites discuss how much it helps anxiety, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and other psychological issues. However, the fact is that marijuana is addictive, and there is little proof that it helps reduce anxiety or the effects of ADHD. Smoking or ingesting marijuana is risky.

The effects of smoking cannabis can occur within the first 30 minutes after the initial high, and the after-effects can last anywhere from 2-3 hours. Ingesting marijuana via an edible product tends to increase the effects of marijuana, and can have a number of other potential risks, as well.

It is difficult to be aware of or control the exact strength or amount of marijuana you are ingesting. Additionally, the resulting high from ingesting marijuana may last for several hours.

The Internet

You can find any answer you want if you search long enough for it on the internet. Parents and teens seeking alternatives to medication for ADHD, anxiety, or other disorders often rely on what social media users say. Often, the users on these social media platforms lack scientific or medical expertise necessary to determine how marijuana affects the brain.

More often, those who advocate using marijuana to ease anxiety, ADHD, and other psychological issues have little to no background in research or medicine. The lack of expertise presents a danger to those who are seeking answers via the internet. The truth is teens and adults diagnosed with ADHD are at a higher risk for alcohol or substance abuse.

Unfortunately, marijuana is not the answer they are seeking to help them manage their disease. Before taking advice from a person, website, or group on the internet, be sure to take the time to thoroughly research the findings they are reporting—you will find that the quoted research is not actually from scientific studies.

Marijuana Laws

States throughout the country are legalizing marijuana. Some states restrict legal use to medical use only, while others do not. These states include Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Vermont, Massachusetts, Maine, and Alaska. The laws in those states restrict the age of use but fail to address substance abuse or addiction issues.

It is important to remember that the legalization of cannabis doesn’t mean it is safe to use. The side effects on the body and mind have not changed, even though the laws regarding the use of marijuana may have changed. Regardless of the laws, marijuana still isn’t safe for kids, teens, or adults. The misconception with the legalization of marijuana is that it is fine for recreational and medicinal use without any need for concern.

Psychological Effects

At first, the use of marijuana appears to be positive. People report feeling calm; they claim that their minds stop racing and they feel in control. The initial effects of marijuana are similar to what one experiences when using alcohol and drug use.

The body responds to it, allowing the brain to relax. However, much like alcohol or substance abuse, the danger of repeated use is very real. Once marijuana use becomes recurring and habitual, it begins to change the chemical structure of the brain.

Brain cells adapt to THC—the chemical that affects mood—and adjust their structure. Over time, the development of genes alter. Your response to the use of marijuana also alters over time. The frequency and amount of marijuana smoked or ingested builds up a tolerance, so the habit becomes more and more of an interference in your life as your body craves larger quantities. Ultimately, marijuana use transitions from casual use to abuse, followed by dependence as your body’s reliance on the effects of THC increases.

Smoking or eating marijuana doesn’t always guarantee that you will feel good. It can also produce feelings related to:

  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Panic
  • Paranoia
  • Delusions

Scientists aren’t sure of the reasons why these feelings occur, since studies involving children and teens are considered ethically wrong. The government set in place regulations and laws that explain the special considerations regarding minors’ participation in research.

Research, such as the effects of marijuana on teens, is considered too risky and unethical. Ethics combined with the impact marijuana has on the brain and body, especially developing minds and bodies, restricts using children and teens as research subjects.

Effects on the Brain

Marijuana reduces brain function. How your brain reacts to the use of marijuana depends on the strength, the amount, and previous history of use. Its use impacts memory, cognitive, verbal, and decision-making abilities. Your judgment is clouded. Marijuana might:

  • Lower your inhibitions
  • Slow motor skills
  • Distort the sense of time
  • The capacity to perform day to day functions decreases

The use of marijuana is not harmless, and its effects aren’t limited to psychological or brain function.

Physical Effects

Movies and television paint a picture of the “fun” you can have while using marijuana. People are portrayed as relaxing, laughing, and hanging out with friends. There are jokes about the “munchies” and references to being more creative. Music also normalizes marijuana use.

Singers and rappers describe how they feel, different ways to use marijuana, and glorify the effects. What music and media forms don’t show are the physical side effects. Smoking marijuana hurts your lungs. Starting to smoke in your teen years increases the risk of breathing problems, a persistent cough, and discolored mucus.

Weight gain is not uncommon because marijuana increases appetite. Marijuana use can also cause heart problems related to heart attacks or strokes. When combined with prescription medication or alcohol, the effects of marijuana are altered

. The dangers associated with alcohol can also increase, such as the risk of driving under the influence. Another danger associated with teens or adults using marijuana is that a variety of academic, professional, and personal problems can arise.

The bottom line is marijuana use isn’t safe. Despite what movies, musicians, and social media say, marijuana poses a threat to your health. Marijuana use places you at a higher risk for physical, cognitive, and psychological problems. Using marijuana to ease feelings associated with anxiety, ADHD, and other psychological issues results in long-term harm to your body. The countless websites, blogs, and chat rooms found online that advocate for the alleged safety of marijuana do not provide credible information. Take the time to research their information; you will find it lacks scientific data. Research studies conducted by scientists and medical researchers provide safe, truthful answers. These answers are available and are easy to discuss with a trained counselor or therapist. Instead of relying on faceless people with unknown qualifications, reach out to someone who can help. Do you need to talk with someone about the risk of using marijuana? Contact Achieve Concierge today at (858) 221-0344.