Benefits of Educating the Public about Marijuana Addiction

Benefits of Educating the Public about Marijuana Addiction

Conventional wisdom says marijuana is not addictive: it does not produce a strong physical dependency, and it does not induce withdrawal symptoms more severe than mild anxiety, insomnia and cravings. Some experts maintain that to be addictive a substance must produce physical dependency and withdrawal symptoms, thereby excusing marijuana.

However, others define addiction more broadly, and insist that marijuana is addictive psychologically. One common definition of addiction is compulsively engaging in behavior despite negative consequences. Under this definition compulsive use of marijuana certainly qualifies as addiction.
Many people believe marijuana is a harmless drug due to the belief that it is not addictive, but marijuana addiction can lead to negative consequences. Educating the public about the true nature of marijuana addiction may prevent some people from falling victim to this insidious addiction.

Psychological Marijuana Addiction

Various factors can contribute to psychological marijuana addiction. For one thing, marijuana stimulates the brain to produce excessive levels of dopamine and serotonin, the neurotransmitters responsible for moods and emotions. Elevated levels of these neurotransmitters produce the euphoric high of marijuana abuse. A desire to experience this pleasant feeling is what draws people back to drug use, at least in the early stages. With more addictive drugs such as opiates, physical dependency requires the user to keep taking the drug to avoid miserable withdrawal symptoms.

Marijuana does not produce severe withdrawal symptoms, but nonetheless users often become psychologically addicted to the effects of the drug. Especially with long term regular use, the user will become accustomed to the elevated levels of dopamine in her brain, and being high will become her normal state. The brain produces less dopamine and serotonin on its own, and stopping use of marijuana will cause reduced levels of dopamine and serotonin, resulting in depression and cravings for the drug.

Consequences of Marijuana Addiction

While marijuana does not produce severe withdrawal symptoms, and while it is virtually impossible to die from a marijuana overdose, regular marijuana use involves the risk of many other negative consequences such as the following:

  • Marijuana smoke contains many toxins, and can cause respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis, sinus and bronchial infections, emphysema and lung cancer
  • Changes in brain chemistry alter thought patterns and result in irrational behavior. This can lead to many problems with the user’s personal life, his career and financial stability
  • Constantly fluctuating levels of dopamine and serotonin can cause mood swings and personality changes
  • Marijuana can cause or aggravate depression
  • Use can lead to legal troubles involving arrest for possession or DUI

Marijuana Addiction Help

If you or someone you know is suffering from marijuana addiction, treatment is available. Our helpline is toll free and we are available 24 hours a day. Call us.