What Makes Marijuana Different from other Substances?

What Makes Marijuana Different from other Substances?

As the country debates whether or not marijuana should be legalized for medical and recreational use, the popularity of the drug is slowly rising. There are many ways that marijuana is different than other substances like alcohol, cocaine, opioids, and other drugs. The largest differences are in the way marijuana effects on the brain and its addictive nature.

Effects on the Brain

Most substances are classified as a stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogen, depending on how they affect the brain. Stimulants are those substances that increase brain activity, producing effects that may include restlessness, focus, irritability, and paranoia. Drugs that fit the category of stimulants include cocaine, methamphetamine, Ritalin, and Adderall. Depressants, on the other hand, slow the activity of the brain, resulting in drowsiness, confusion, impaired coordination, and slowed breathing. There are many substances classified as depressants, including alcohol, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and opioids. Lastly, hallucinogens are a class of drugs that interferes with the brain’s normal activity in a different way, resulting in hallucinations and a distorted perception. LSD, PCP, psilocybin, ketamine, and mescaline are all hallucinogens.

Marijuana is different than all of these substances, as it is not confined to one single classification. Its effects may vary slightly between individuals and share characteristics of stimulants, depressants, and hallucinogens. The strongest effects of marijuana are characteristic of depressants. This drug can have depressant effects of muscle relaxation, drowsiness, and lowered blood pressure. The most frequently noted stimulant effects of marijuana, on the other hand, are excitement and anxiety. Lastly, marijuana can also have mild hallucinogenic effects. While this drug will not necessarily produce extreme visual hallucinations, it can certainly alter visual perceptions. Some users may notice that their depth perception is altered while using marijuana, and others may find that their sense of time has been affected.

Addiction Potential

There are two types of addiction that drug users may experience. Physical addiction is what most people think of when they hear the word addiction. Physical addictions are those that involve a chemical imbalance in the brain and are characterized by dependence, tolerance, and withdrawal symptoms. Dependence is the physical need to use the drug to function normally while tolerance is the need to use increasing amounts of the drug to achieve the same effects. Withdrawal symptoms occur only with physical addiction and occur when the drug has not been used. Most illegal drugs and many prescription drugs can cause physical addiction.

Marijuana, on the other hand, does not have an association with physical addiction. However, this does not mean it is not addictive in any way. Marijuana can produce the second type of addiction, known as a psychological addiction. This involves a non-chemical form of dependence where marijuana users feel that they need to take the drug to function. They may feel depressed or anxious when they are not using the drug and may use it to relieve these uncomfortable feelings. Psychological addiction is unfortunately less recognized by society although its effects may be just as devastating.

Get Help for Marijuana Addiction

If you or a loved one has become addicted to marijuana, please call our toll-free helpline today. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you might have about marijuana addiction treatment.