Dependence Risks

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Dependence Risks Addiction Treatment
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Currently, 28 million Americans admit to using marijuana in the last year, and of those, over four million meet the psychological definition for addiction.

These numbers are staggering and marijuana use in the United States continues to escalate every year. In fact, more than 20 percent of high school seniors have used the drug in the last month and more than six percent are using marijuana daily. The increased use is due in part to the misconception that marijuana holds no risks of addiction and offers no health concerns.

A mixture of dried leaves, stems, seeds and flowers, the cannabis plant has psychedelic properties. The active chemical in the plant that causes a “high” is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and works by changing brain chemistry.

Many users believe that because marijuana is “natural” it is safe, but there are over 400 chemicals in the drug and some contain cancer-causing components.

Marijuana is generally inhaled and when this happens THC moves quickly from the lungs into the bloodstream and then on to the brain and the rest of the body’s organs. THC attaches to cannaboid receptors once it reaches the brain. Different areas of the brain have higher concentrations of cannaboid receptors. The portions of the brain with the highest number of these receptors influence pleasure, pain, memory, thought, concentration, perception of time and appetite, and cause the majority of the drug’s effects.

Developing Addiction

With so many people in the US experimenting, what causes someone to move from casual use to marijuana addiction? The emotional, social and cultural factors that drive addiction are complex and individual to each person with a marijuana dependence issue. However, there are certain risk factors that make an individual more susceptible to developing marijuana addiction. These factors include:

  • History of parental or sibling substance abuse
  • Dysfunctional family structure
  • Mental Illness
  • ADD or impulse control issues
  • Early initiation to drug use (the earlier a person starts, the more likely addiction develops)
  • Family history of psychological disorders
  • Childhood trauma and/or abuse
  • Social isolation
  • Poor coping strategies
  • Childhood problem behaviors
  • Friends who use/peer pressure
  • High levels of academic or career stress
  • Poor interpersonal skills

Marijuana addiction may develop in a person with none of the above criteria. These factors only increase the likelihood of dependence.

Personal Health

Contrary to popular belief, marijuana is addictive and carries many potential risks for those with a dependency.

It is true that the physical addiction to marijuana is not as strong as most other illicit drugs. However, due to marijuana’s effects on the brain, habitual users will experience physical symptoms when they stop use abruptly, such as agitated mood, aggression, problems sleeping, sweating and loss of appetite.

Marijuana dependence is more determined by psychological than physical factors. In other words, the addiction is more behavioral than physical. Emotional and psychological factors creating marijuana dependency can be very strong and difficult to overcome alone.

Marijuana impacts the brain in significant ways and a new study has shown that marijuana addiction causes more than a 40 percent increase in the development of psychosis.

Those who start using during the teenage years suffer higher rates of both depression and anxiety in early adulthood. Across age brackets, those who use marijuana have higher rates of panic attacks and suicidal thinking than non-users. For those individuals with an existing mental diagnosis, marijuana abuse can worsen psychotic symptoms (especially for those with schizophrenia).

In addition to the above potential risks for psychological health, marijuana addiction has many potential dangers for an individual’s mental, physical, personal and financial wellbeing. Those risks include:

  • Memory and learning problems
  • Decreased motivation
  • Poor school and work performance
  • Respiratory conditions such as bronchitis or chronic cough
  • Increased risk for psychosis in susceptible individuals
  • Raised heart rate
  • Decreased life satisfaction
  • Increased risk of heart attack
  • Easily distracted
  • Decreased motor coordination
  • Decreased time with family or children because of marijuana abuse
  • Shortened attention span
  • Loss of mental alertness and impaired judgment
  • Increased risk for car accidents or STD due to altered decision-making while high

Find Treatment for Dependence

If you or someone you love is abusing marijuana, call us today. We can assist you in connecting with high-caliber marijuana addiction treatment centers that can help you understand why you use and how to stop. Don’t try to figure this out alone.

Let our highly trained counselors provide you with a confidential assessment to get your life moving in a positive direction today.


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