With almost 50 million regular users each year in the U.S. alone, marijuana is one of America’s most widely consumed drugs. Much of this consumption is purely recreational in nature. In addition, growing numbers of people have prescriptions for medical marijuana. In either context, what are the risks of marijuana use? Is the drug addictive? And if so, exactly when should affected users seek marijuana addiction treatment? If you or someone close to you is using or abusing marijuana, it is essential that you be informed about the potential dangers of this drug.
Is Marijuana Addictive?: The Effects of Marijuana
Marijuana contains two main active ingredients. The first and most well-known of these ingredients is tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. The second is cannabidiol or CBD. Most of the drug’s mental and emotional effects are THC-related.
Why is this the case? Your brain and body naturally contain nerve sites called cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are located in areas of your brain responsible for things such as your:
- Pleasure levels
- Thought processes
- Perception of time
- Muscle coordination
When you use marijuana, its THC content activates your cannabinoid receptors. Doing so alters the normal function of all affected brain areas. In turn, this alteration sets the stage for potential problems.
Marijuana Abuse and Dependence
The heightened pleasure triggered by THC is especially important in making addiction a possibility. That’s true because it encourages repeated use of the drug. Up to a point, your brain can adjust to the presence of THC. When it leaves your system, brain function returns to normal.
But if you abuse or repeatedly use marijuana, the situation can change. Instead of returning to normal, your brain will start to expect THC as part of its everyday makeup. If this happens, you are dependent on marijuana. A key indicator of dependence is the onset of withdrawal when your use of the drug stops or falls sharply. Potential symptoms of marijuana withdrawal include:
- Cravings for more marijuana
- Irritability and other mood changes
- Sleeping difficulties
You may also experience restlessness or a drop in your typical appetite.
Is Marijuana Addictive?: Loss of Control
Marijuana dependence is not the same thing as marijuana addiction. However, if you’re dependent, addiction may not be far away. What marks the difference between dependence and addiction? The critical factor is loss of control. As a rule, if you’re addicted, you will engage in involuntary drug-seeking behavior. Significant numbers of marijuana users eventually experience this kind of behavioral change. For that reason, the drug is classified by experts as an addictive substance.
The Effects of Marijuana Addiction and Abuse: Cannabis Use Disorder
Addiction is not the only potential damaging effect of marijuana use. You may also experience problems associated with non-addicted abuse of the drug. Such issues can be severe enough to hinder your ability to function.
Addiction and damaging, non-addicted marijuana abuse are not entirely separate problems. In fact, they can overlap in a variety of ways. Officially, both issues are part of a single condition: cannabis use disorder. Most people with this condition are not addicted to marijuana. However, they still experience significant harm. That’s why you need treatment for any form of cannabis use disorder, not just addiction.
Seek Help for Marijuana Addiction at Northpoint Washington
Need more information on the effects of marijuana? Contact the professionals at Northpoint Washington. We’re standing by to answer your questions and provide required guidance.
Northpoint is also your premier resource for residential marijuana treatment. Our in-house specialists support your recovery no matter how severe your addiction is. We also have the expertise needed to help you recover from any other serious substance problem. To learn more about our highly respected programs, call us today at 425.437.3298. You can also start the process by filling out our brief online contact form.