Marijuana is often portrayed as a fun, harmless substance. There are countless examples in the media of young people casually using marijuana, and its use is often linked with a certain carefree attitude. While it may not be as addictive or harmful as other drugs, frequent marijuana use may have a negative effect on your body and brain, and addiction to it may be genetically linked to other mental disorders.
What Does Marijuana Addiction Look Like?
For many people, marijuana is a recreational drug that comes out at parties, but some people may develop an addiction to it. Research shows that between nine and seventeen percent of people who use marijuana become dependent on it.
Marijuana addiction, like any form of addiction, affects your relationships and outlook on life. When your body grows accustomed to the presence of marijuana, dependence can form, and maintaining that habit becomes more important than other aspects of life.
Frequent use can lead to poor performance in school or at work, decreased mental and physical health or increased relationship issues. Dependence from long-time use can result in withdrawal symptoms like irritability, insomnia, lack of appetite, anxiety and cravings. These symptoms may last for a few weeks, but aren’t usually severe.
Can Addiction to Marijuana Be Genetic?
With new research into genetics, scientists are beginning to find links between genes and addiction. Scientists have discovered several genes that may be linked to alcohol or drug addiction, and while the existence of those genes doesn’t negate external factors, they may help explain why certain people are drawn toward addictive substances.
Marijuana use activates the cannabinoid centers of the brain that are important for learning, memory, appetite and pain perception. These parts of the brain can be negatively affected by this artificial activation, leading to loss of memory and difficulty processing new information.
Genetic predisposition toward marijuana addiction may also demonstrate a tendency toward other mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These disorders may have the same genetic baseline as marijuana addiction.
Some research suggests that psychosis may develop in marijuana users who possess the AKT1 gene. Those who possess this gene may be at an increased risk for psychosis because their body does not generate dopamine correctly.
What Can You Do About Marijuana Addiction?
Treatments for marijuana addiction focus on the thoughts and behaviors that lead to marijuana use. Through therapy, you can learn methods to cope with cravings and gain self-control. Positive reinforcement and encouragement are vital to learning to live without marijuana.
Marijuana use may seem like a harmless activity, but it can be an addictive substance, and addiction is detrimental to your health and relationships. In order to overcome marijuana addiction, it’s important to understand the role that genetics play in your life.
Addiction of any kind is unhealthy, and marijuana addiction can have a definitive, negative impact on your life. Continued use of marijuana can have long-term effects on your health. Overcoming your addiction and stopping marijuana use is important for a healthier life.