The effects of marijuana are generally known: Physically the user becomes relaxed or sedated, pain is decreased or non-existent, eyes are bloodshot, appetite increases, moderate loss in muscular coordination, and possible heavy coughing.
Under the surface, blood pressure and eye pressure decrease, and heart rate increases.
Mentally, the user experiences a separation from his or her environment, a detached demeanor, drowsiness, difficulty concentrating, and of course, forgetfulness.
The question becomes though, is marijuana addictive? Can someone be addicted to weed? And if so, how would you go about identifying marijuana addiction?
According to Uppers, Downers, All Arounders by Darryl S. Inaba, Pharm.D. & William E. Cohen, Addiction is a progressive disease process characterized by:
· loss of control over use,
· obsession with use,
· continued use despite adverse consequences,
· denial that there are problems, and
· a powerful tendency to relapse.
A definition of behaviors is hard to prove or disprove, especially when the behaviors are not characteristic of marijuana smokers.
How else could addiction be defined, or identified?
Pharmacology is the science of how a substance affects the human body.
A single Cannabis plant contains more than 420 chemicals, THC being the most potent.
The sinsemilla growing technique took the THC concentration in marijuana from a range of 1% to 3% as it was in the 1960s, to a range of 4% to 15%, and occasionally up to 25%, now. More THC is smoked with each puff each time any weed is smoked.
Marijuana, and more specifically THC, influences the brain in a way that makes your body think neurotransmitters have been released. A chemical called anandamide, found in the human brain, naturally creates the effect that the chemicals in marijuana mimic.
The locations of the anandamide receptors are in the limbic system, the immune system, and the brain. The receptors in the brain are in charge of processing the experiences of your five senses with the use of emotions. Learning, memory, novelty and motor coordination functions are also controlled by these areas of the brain.
Inaba & Cohen site the discovery and study of “the reduction of nerve cell sensitivity to marijuana,” or pharmacodynamic tolerance. (p.
Although you cannot physically overdose on marijuana, there is no denying there are physical effects from the use of the substance.
Let’s go back to the definition of addiction. Nothing in the pharmacology of weed or THC says anything about loss of control with use, obsession with use, continued use despite adverse consequences, denial that there are problems, or a powerful tendency to relapse.
What else could help in identifying marijuana addiction?
Most drugs that users and abusers become addicted to have a noticeable withdrawal process. Since the desired effects of marijuana last for four to six hours, yet the drug stays in the body of a chronic user for up to 90 days, withdrawal from the substance is delayed and slow, so hard to identify or study.
THC gets stored in body tissue, and especially fat, so withdrawal symptoms tend to only present themselves when the user had has a significant period of abstinence.
Marijuana withdrawal symptoms are said to include the following:
· body aches, pains, and chills
· inability to concentrate
· slight tremors
· sleep disturbances
· decreased appetite and stomach pain
Craving has been shown to be the most consistent symptom for those reporting withdrawal symptoms from marijuana.
Based on this information, what do you think? Are you more prepared to identify marijuana addiction?
Treatment is available. Generally, it will consist of the same treatment approach for other substances, but can help identify the reasons for use, as it does for users of other substances. Marijuana Anonymous has a worldwide presence and is showing membership growth.
Sovereign Health of California is a leading drug rehabilitation center providing relief for people battling with marijuana addiction. Jared Friedman is Quality Improvement Manager at the facility and ensures people receive their proper treatment.