Is Cannabis Addictive?

January 23, 2020

Mary Jane, Weed, Marijuana, Hemp, Dope, Pot, Grass, Cannabis. The debate has been all over the news for years now. The uses of cannabis have been discussed, and studies have popped up everywhere about its consumption. Illegal or not, the fact still stands that it can be an addictive substance.

Cannabis is the most frequently abused illicit drug in the world. It is commonly used to escape reality, relax, and to get a pleasurable high. Cannabis comes from the hemp plants Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica, it is a mix of the flowers, stems, and leaves from the plant. Cannabis can be smoked like a cigarette (called a joint), a pipe, blunt, or bong. The smell is hard to understand if you have not yet smelt it, it is a pungent odor usually described as sweet and sour.

What Cannabis Does to Your Brain

The National Institute on Drug Abuse had released studies informing that “30 percent of those who use marijuana may have some degree of marijuana use disorder.” It also states that those who use cannabis before the age of 18 are “4 to 7 times more likely to develop this use disorder than adults.” Additionally, other studies have revealed that those who use cannabis before the age of 25 are at risk of lowering their IQ. This is because cannabis impairs your cognitive development.

When you are using cannabis, it directly affects the prefrontal cortex of your brain. This impairs your learning, thinking, problem-solving, reaction time, memory organization and recall, sensory and time perception, motor function and coordination, and attention span. When abused for extended amounts of time, the psychological effects can last from days to weeks after the acute effects of the drug wear off. This means you could be living at a lowered intelligence level for lengthy periods, and if you abused it during adolescence, it could be permanent.

The longer you use this drug, the more you are at risk for permanent impairment. This use has also been shown to increase your heart rate, weaken your immune system, and cause hallucinations. Unfiltered cannabis smoke has also been known to cause lung diseases such as cancer. This is not a harmless drug. Its effects cannot be reversed, especially if abused as an adolescent.

The two most active ingredients in cannabis are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). When smoked, the THC chemical quickly passes into your bloodstream and into your brain. This chemical then activates the cannabinoid receptors in your brain and produces a high. Cannabidiol influences your serotonin receptors in your brain. It is known as the happy chemical, and when you take cannabis it has been known to boost your mood.  

Extended exposure and abuse of cannabis have been proven to increase your risk of developing mental health disorders later on in life like schizophrenia. Addiction to cannabis and having a mental health condition are frequently seen together. You are also more at risk for drug seizures as well. The World Health Organization stated, “Half of all drug seizures worldwide are cannabis seizures. The geographical spread of those seizures is also global, covering practically every country of the world. About 147 million people, 2.5% of the world population, consume cannabis (annual prevalence) compared with 0.2% consuming cocaine and 0.2% consuming opiates.”

Signs of cannabis use are red and bloodshot eyes, coughing, rapid heartbeat, munchies (hunger), dry mouth, paranoia, memory impairment, poor coordination, delayed reactions, loss of control, and addiction seeking behavior.

Addiction to cannabis is a real problem. You can easily build a tolerance for the substance and quickly end up using more and more. Since cannabis impairs your cognitive function, it can also make it easier for you to become addicted to it. You begin to exhibit compulsive behaviors, seeking it out despite the harmful effects it can have. Most people view cannabis as harmless, and this makes it a gateway drug. You start with cannabis and can end up addicted to something you never intended to use because you are cognitively impaired.

Withdrawal symptoms are irritability, insomnia, anxiety, decreased appetite, and urges to use. When you are trying to get off a drug, your risk for relapse goes down when you seek medical, professional help. They can help you detox, manage your withdrawal, and educate you on a successful recovery.

Despite its harmful effects, cannabis addiction is one of the most under-treated addictions in the country. Wondering what step you should take next? Unsure of what services would be the best fit for you? Call Steps Recovery Centers today – 385-250-1701– to talk with one of our trained clinicians. With levels of care from outpatient to residential, we can meet you where you are and help boost your journey to recovery.

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