How Does Marijuana Work?

How Does Marijuana Work?

Marijuana produces its euphoric high by stimulating the brain to produce excess levels of dopamine and serotonin. These chemicals are part of the reward or pleasure center of the brain, which develop naturally in response to pleasant or rewarding experiences. Excessive levels of dopamine and serotonin create an artificially elevated mood rising to the level of euphoria.

Is Marijuana Addictive?

Marijuana does not produce a strong physical dependence: while regular users report withdrawal symptoms when they quit using, these symptoms are mild and usually last several days to two weeks. People may experience cravings, irritability, insomnia and depression, but they are usually weaker compared to the intensity of other drugs. Withdrawal from marijuana is not life-threatening as it can be with other drugs, and detox does not require medical supervision.

However, marijuana can be very addictive psychologically. The euphoria of a high tends to numb emotional pain, relieve stress and help users escape the pressures of life. Chronic users continually seek this euphoric state, and marijuana use can easily become the main focus of a user’s life.

With regular use of marijuana the brain stops producing adequate levels of dopamine and serotonin on its own. If use is stopped abruptly the levels of these chemicals plummets, causing depression. With the depression comes cravings; the brain needs marijuana to function normally. Users become preoccupied with obtaining and using marijuana, often engaging in addictive behavior to obtain.

Addiction to Marijuana is often characterized by the following signs or behaviors:

  • Preoccupation with obtaining and using marijuana
  • Spending large amounts of money on marijuana
  • Financial difficulties
  • Difficulty finding or keeping a job
  • Engaging in illegal activities such as stealing or dealing marijuana to finance abuse
  • Legal troubles
  • Increased isolation from friends, family and social circles
  • Paranoid, delusional thinking
  • Depression

Treatment for Marijuana Addiction

Treating marijuana addiction consists primarily of counseling or therapy to address psychological and behavioral issues. Counselors help marijuana addicts recognize the choices she made and how they led to addiction. Patients will then identify thoughts or situations that trigger drug use, and she will learn coping strategies that are more productive than abusing a drug.

Numbing emotional pain with marijuana is often a sign of deeper psychological issues known as co-occurring disorders. Treating the addiction alone may be effective in the short term, but if issues like depression or bipolar disorder still exist, the patient will be susceptible to relapse when episodes of depression occur. Integrated treatment addresses both the addiction and any co-occurring disorder that may contribute to drug abuse, and this method enables long-term sobriety better than behavioral therapy does alone.

Marijuana Addiction Help

If you have any questions about marijuana addiction or treatment, call our 24 hour, toll-free helpline now. Our phone counselors are standing by right now to connect you with a quality treatment center that can meet your specific needs.