Marijuana’s More Mainstream Acceptance Is Alarming
Marijuana, the most commonly abused illicit drug in America, has recently been legalized in several of the country’s states. However, there is still a lot of controversy surrounding its use and whether or not it contributes to addictive tendencies in substance abusers, or if it can be a gateway to the use of harder drugs. Marijuana is a dry, shredded green and brown mix of flowers, stems, seeds, and leaves derived from the hemp plant. The active ingredient is THC, which has a narcotic effect on the brain.So, why does it bother us so much that marijuana shouldn’t be legalized if it has been shown to be a legitimate medicine for pain reduction and other illnesses, like cancer and AIDS? Just as pain killer medicines were so widely available and had to be heavily regulated in recent years due to widespread abuse that caused personal harm and fatalities, the problem with marijuana usage has some of the same characteristics.
Habitual Marijuana Use Shown To Cause Abnormalities
For many, marijuana might not readily appear to have any adverse effects and that is why the negative characteristics are so subtle to detect. However, for many users there is the potential to become addicted because the fact is that many people tend to use marijuana to mask pains from daily life that they don’t know how to cope with and this becomes a habitual coping strategy that could otherwise be dealt with in healthier ways.
More compelling though is several studies that have shown howmarijuana affects the brain. One study in Britain reveals that the brain natural production of dopamine decreases in the brains of users and encourages a more lethargic attitude because of less dopamine being released when a person is challenged to overcome obstacles and find a solution to various dilemmas in life. Another study shows that marijuana users who started smoking when they were in their teens and on into adulthood have brain structural abnormalities including the shrinkage of grey matter which effects memory and in some cases resembles structural defects in people with schizophrenia.
According to the US National Institute on Drug and Alcohol Abuse or NIDA, long term use of marijuana can lead to addiction for 9% of users and this figure increases almost two fold for teen users. Studies also show that marijuana dependence usually happens along with another substance, such as alcohol or cocaine. Treatment is available and like with all other addictions – recovery is an ongoing process. If you need help, reach out now.