According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), marijuana is the most commonly abused recreational drug in the nation. As a result, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) report has shown an increase in drug addiction treatment sought and undergone by marijuana users, with 37 percent of that those entering treatment citing use of the drug. From use in states where marijuana has become legal to intoxication from street purchases, marijuana use can develop into addiction with time.
Though the drug itself is considered to only have mild physical addiction potential, the psychological components of marijuana addiction can lead to a host of consequences, including personality changes, social withdrawal, financial difficulties and health issues.
How Marijuana Acts in the Body
Marijuana’s active chemical, known as Tetrahydrocannabinol (commonly shortened to “THC”), causes a release of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine, a chemical messenger responsible for feelings of calm and euphoria, creates much of the marijuana “high” when ingested orally or by smoke inhalation when burned.
When users feel the marijuana high, the body and brain respond with changes in physical response, memory, mood and perception. Appetite tends to increase (in a phenomenon colloquially known as “the munchies”), reflexes slow down and estimations of time begin to blur. Users often experience uncontrolled fits of laughter, cognitive impairments and a reduction in short-term memory capacity.
Over time, chronic marijuana use can lead to a host of negative psychological effects. Anxiety attacks can set in with repeated use, along with dulled emotional effects in some users. One of the hallmarks of marijuana usage is apathy, often accompanied by depression and leading to a diagnosis of Amotivational Syndrome in severe cases.
Immunity can become compromised by marijuana usage, and risks of lung disease and lung cancer increase, even for those who do not smoke tobacco products alongside marijuana consumption. Reproductive capacity can also become altered, causing marijuana users to experience erectile dysfunction and pregnant women who use the drug to incur fetal damage.
If recreational or prescription use of marijuana has given way to addiction in your life, inpatient drug treatment centers can help you return to sobriety. Whether you suffer from daily or periodic use of the drug, trained addiction treatment counselors can help you locate addiction programs throughout the country that specialize in marijuana recovery.