How Can Use of Marijuana Contribute to Dependency?

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As stated by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), marijuana use can lead to the development of marijuana use disorder; research estimates that 30% of people who use marijuana have some degree of this disorder. Furthermore, individuals who use marijuana before the age of 18 are four to seven times more likely to develop marijuana use disorder when they get older. As such, marijuana use disorder is classified as a dependency to marijuana; although many people believe a person cannot become dependent or addicted to the drug, it is possible.

A 2014 study conducted by researchers from Harvard University Medical School found that marijuana abusers show lower positive and higher negative emotionality scores along with greater stress and irritability, which is related to the fact that more marijuana use can lower a person’s sensitivity to rewards that would typically cause pleasure. When marijuana is consumed, an influx of “feel good” chemicals in the brain, otherwise known as dopamine, are released. The brain becomes used to this influx so when it is taken away because the person is no longer using the drug, the brain experiences less pleasure – giving an individual more negative emotion reactivity. These physiological reactions are like other addictions, as the brain becomes used to an increase in dopamine production from the drug itself.

Marijuana dependence is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Needing more marijuana to achieve the same “high” effect
  • Withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, difficulty sleeping, and depressive symptoms
  • Using more marijuana than originally intended
  • Attempting to quit using marijuana several times and failing
  • Spending lots of time thinking about and planning around marijuana use
  • No longer participating in activities that don’t involve the use of marijuana
  • Using marijuana even when problems arise because of use

When a person abuses marijuana, consequences may begin to affect many areas of their life, including: school, work, home and family life, relationships, legal stature, and more. If you’ve been struggling with marijuana use, contact a representative from a reputable treatment center today.

Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, call us today at 888-958-7511 for a consultation. It’s never too late, and there are people here ready to help you.


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