How Marijuana Addiction Affects the Brain

How Marijuana Addiction Affects the Brain

Classified as a mind-altering intoxicant, stimulant, psychedelic and depressant, marijuana is used by people of every age, socioeconomic status and educational level. Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the U.S.

Effects of Marijuana Abuse

When you see that the immediate effects of marijuana can include euphoria, distorted perceptions, memory impairment, as well as difficulty thinking and solving problems, you can immediately see that marijuana is having some effect on your brain. After continued abuse of marijuana, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Lack of concentration
  • Difficulty with learning
  • Decreased problem-solving skills
  • Lack of alertness
  • Trouble organizing and using information
  • Forgetfulness

Much scientific research has been done to get a clearer understanding o how marijuana affects the brain. The principal psychoactive component in marijuana is 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC); when a person smokes marijuana, THC moves quickly through the body. In the brain, it connects to specific nerve cell receptors. The nerve cell receptors most affected by THC are those that control pleasure, thought, memory, sensory, concentration, time perception, and coordination. Research has been done that show that irritability, aggression, and anxiety; all brain-based behaviors appear in individuals who discontinue receiving THC.

After looking at the known short and long-term effects of marijuana abuse, the impact of the THC on the brain can seem daunting. In fact, research on long-term marijuana abuse indicates that some of the changes in the brain are similar to those of other more significant drugs. In particular, long-term marijuana use is associated with changes in dopamine which is the neuron involved in regulating motivation and reward.

Do You Need Help with Marijuana Addiction?

Many people believe that they can quit using marijuana on their own, and some people actually do quit cold turkey because the withdrawal symptoms from marijuana are not as severe as with other drugs. However, when you see the effects that marijuana has on the brain, you get an understanding that the brain has actually formed a relationship with marijuana that often creates strong cravings. These cravings can be so powerful that they often overwhelm a person in the first few days. Getting treatment, especially inpatient treatment, provides several benefits including the following:

  • You are removed from an environment in which you had easy access to marijuana
  • You explore the causes of your drug use behaviors with a professional counselor who can help you uncover issues and deal with them in a more constructive manner
  • You learn about the effects that marijuana has on your brain and, more importantly, you learn strategies to counteract the power of cravings
  • You learn about triggers and temptations and how to work around or avoid them
  • You start building a solid foundation for long-term abstinence
  • You can establish more positive relationships with people who want to avoid drugs

Get Help with Marijuana Addiction

There are many options available to those who want to help someone stay clean from drugs. If you need assistance in learning about interventions, getting started in finding the right treatment program, understanding your insurance benefits, or exploring addiction recovery, call our toll-free helpline today. We are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you might have about marijuana addiction treatment. We are here to help.