What Made My Loved One A Marijuana Addict?

What Made My Loved One A Marijuana Addict?

Many people consider marijuana a soft drug because it is non-addictive, but this is not true: chronic marijuana use can induce a physical addiction, but not a very strong one. The withdrawal symptoms are relatively mild, consisting mainly of anxiety, sleeplessness and cravings for the drug that last only a few days.

However, marijuana often produces a psychological addiction that can be quite strong indeed. THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, alters the reward center in the brain: it causes the brain to produce more dopamine and serotonin, both of which control your mood. Elevated levels of dopamine cause feelings of euphoria, the high associated with marijuana. Users report that this feeling is very pleasant and can be a strong inducement to use marijuana repeatedly. Habitual marijuana users will come to rely on the euphoric effects of excessive dopamine, and will crave the feeling it produces.

With chronic use the brain begins to produce less dopamine and serotonin on its own. If marijuana use is stopped, the decreased levels of serotonin will produce feelings of depression. Since the brain no longer produces adequate levels on its own, habitual marijuana users will come to rely on marijuana to produce enough serotonin to alleviate depression. At this point habitual users are psychologically addicted to marijuana and will use it not so much to get high but to avoid feeling low. This is the same phenomenon that heroin addicts call maintaining, although with marijuana the effects of withdrawal are much less severe.

Situational Causes of Marijuana Addiction

There are many factors that can cause a person to become a habitual marijuana user. Marijuana is extremely prevalent in our society, and is used recreationally by people in nearly all walks of life. Its use is very common among middle school and high school students. One way or another it is very unlikely that a person can grow up in the United States without being exposed to marijuana use at some point. Marijuana is also a social drug, and is often used at parties or gatherings. Due to its popularity and the fact that it lacks the social stigma associated with harder drugs it can be very tempting for someone, especially a young person, to want to try it. Peer pressure can play a big role in marijuana use; not actual pressure to use the drug, but the fact that so many people do and it seems like no big deal.

Benefits of Marijuana Addiction Treatment

Since marijuana addiction does not produce severe withdrawal symptoms, treatment consists mainly of counseling to address behavioral and psychological issues related to addiction. During treatment the patient will achieve the following goals:

  • Explore and address the root causes of addiction and any co-occurring mental health issues
  • Learn skills for coping without turning to drug use
  • Learn strategies for maintaining long-term sobriety
  • Learn to recognize and avoid situations that can trigger relapse

Marijuana Addiction Help

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