Yes, You Can Get Addicted to Marijuana

are you able to be addicted to marijuanaIn the long list of drugs that are commonly abused, most people place marijuana at the very bottom. It’s just not taken very seriously. It’s been ingrained in our culture for decades, glorified in the media, even recent Presidents laugh and dismiss their marijuana use in their younger years. It’s a safe bet that most parents today were exposed to marijuana at sometime in their youth, and probably at least tried it themselves.Everyone remembers the ‘potheads’ and ‘stoners’ in school, who were often popular and cool. Yes, many parents today tend to dismiss pot smoking as a relatively harmless expression of teen rebellion, something that people outgrow eventually. That is, until they find evidence that their own children are using it.Then parents take notice. And there’s good cause for their concern. Marijuana isn’t the same as it was years ago, and new evidence shows that it has the same addictive traits as drugs that any parent would be horrified to discover their children using.

More Potent, More Dangerous

THC is more potent more dangerous than other drugsAlthough there are many factors that determine how marijuana will affect an individual, including age, gender, and genetic factors, the most easily measured is the potency of the pot. THC is the chemical ingredient in marijuana that produces the high, and potency is measured by the level of THC present in the plant.Because of improved growing and production methods, studies have shown that the levels of THC present in the marijuana commonly available today averages around 14.5%, with some varieties going as high as 30%. In the 1980’s, the average was only 4%. Higher doses mean more of the negative effects of marijuana and a greater risk of addiction.

Similar Biological Changes to Other Drugs

According to the American Society of Addictive Medicine, research has shown that pot causes the same biochemical changes, in the brains of rats at least, as other highly addictive substances such as cocaine, heroin, alcohol, and nicotine. In another study, test subjects who were given high doses of THC for a period of three weeks experienced, nausea, sweating, irritability, restlessness, and sleeping problems when the dosing stopped, all clear signs of addiction and withdrawal.The researchers also noted that marijuana seemed to change the chemistry of the brain in a way that made it more vulnerable to ‘harder’ drugs like cocaine and heroin, thus adding credence to the claim that marijuana is a gateway drug.

Links to Anxiety and Depression

Marijuana links to anxiety, parinoia and depressionRegular marijuana use interferes with an individual’s judgement, making them more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as drunk driving and unprotected sex. It has also been linked to other harmful psychological effects, including anxiety and depression, thoughts of suicide, and personality disorders.One of the most commonly noted disorders, known as a motivational syndrome, is characterized by a loss of interest in favorite activities and a lack of drive and motivation. Clearly, marijuana use in young people is anything but harmless.

Marijuana Addiction Can Be Treated

Although there are no approved medications for treating marijuana addiction, several behavioral therapies have been shown to be just as effective as they have been for treating other kinds of substance abuse. These include teaching individuals to recognize the triggers that lead to their drug use, and strategies for managing stress, as well as motivational therapy. Treatment at an addiction recovery center has proven to be highly effective.If you believe your child is suffering from a marijuana addiction, it’s important to seek professional help. There are many recovery centers around the country that provide excellent care. Start finding the right one for you and your child.

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References:
  1. Marijuana: Facts Parents Need to Know, National Institute on Drug Abuse, March 2014, http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-parents-need-to-know/want-to-know-more-some-faqs-about-marijuana
  2. Suzanna Williams, You Can Get Addicted to Pot, No Date, Scholastic Teachers, http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/you-can-get-addicted-pot
 

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