Drug Addiction: Marijuana
Marijuana is one of the most controversial substances of abuse at this time. It works because our brain makes its own substance (anandamide) which normally fits into the receptors(called cannabinoid receptors on nerve cells) that marijuana fits into. This endogenous cannabinoid system works as a regulator of many nervous system functions. Receptors are found throughout the brain. Tetrahydrocannibol is the major ingredient of marijuana but there are other cannabinoids present in the plant.
Marijuana is an addictive drug with hallucinogenic properties, obtained from the flowering tops, stems, and leaves of the hemp plant. Resins found on the surface of the female plant are used to prepare the most potent form of marijuana, hashish. Marijuana produces a dreamy, euphoric state of altered consciousness, with feelings of detachment and gaiety. The appetite is usually enhanced, while the sex drive may increase or decrease.
Just as opiates mimic our endorphin system, marijuana mimics our endogenous cannabinoid system. And, just as morphine and other opiates have medical uses, there is the risk of addiction.
People may be against medical marijuana or legalization of marijuana or others may be for these things or undecided. Supporters of marijuana emphasize its medical benefits such as in the treatment of glaucoma or high Blood pressure or nausea due to cancer. Still as a medicine it has some side effects especially related to an increase in anxiety in some people, panic attacks, weight gain and increased appetite and importantly, the potential for abuse and addiction. Tetrahydrocannabinol is a powerful chemical that can interact with the brain cannabinoid receptors which are distributed around the brain and may affect Memory, learning and emotions. The use of Marijuana can create a picture similar to ADD(attention deficit disorder). Studies show heavy Marijuana use negatively impacts learning and social behavior. Studies show impaired attention, memory, and critical thinking. Compared to the light users, heavy marijuana users made more errors and had more difficulty sustaining attention, shifting attention to meet the demands of changes in the environment, and in registering, processing, and using information. These findings suggest that the greater impairment among heavy users is likely due to an alteration of brain activity produced by marijuana.
So whether you are with or against THC for medicinal purposes, remember it has side effects.
All forms of Marijuana are mind-altering, changing the way the brain works. This drug also affects the lungs causing daily cough and phlegm, symptoms of chronic bronchitis, and more frequent chest colds. Continuing to smoke marijuana can lead to abnormal functioning of lung tissue injured or destroyed by marijuana smoke. It also causes problems with heart rate and blood pressure. A marijuana user’s heart rate can increase when using marijuana alone.
Marijuana is not a good treatment for either anxiety or depression. Just as alcohol and other drugs may be taken by people trying to deal with anxiety and depression, the suppression of these feelings, which may stem from distress, grief or loss, will only lead to the person getting emotionally sicker as these feelings are not dealt with or respected.
When a person is addicted to Marijuana they may find it hard to stop its use despite their awareness of problems caused by Marijuana. Conversely, the person may feel such a need for marijuana that they find it hard to accept that Marijuana is causing problems which those around them see to be directly related to Marijuana use.
For some people coming off Marijuana may be difficult. They may experience an increase in anxiety and a difficulty with getting to sleep and craving for Marijuana. Since Marijuana is a fat soluble molecule, it is stored in the fat. When Marijuana is stopped, the fat will still release the Marijauna that is stored there. Heavy Marijuana users may find that it can take as long as a month for Marijuana to no longer be found in the urine.
Recovery from Marijuana dependence begins with stopping the drug and letting the body restabilize itself. The person reduces the risk of relapse by participating in a structured program of recovery which includes a 12 step program. Structured programs help teach the person a different way of reacting to life that does not need Marijuana as a coping tool or as a way to enjoy life.
Adverse reactions are relatively rare, and most can be attributed to adulterants frequently found in marijuana preparations.
Marijuana is a dry, shredded green/brown mix of flowers, stems, seeds, and leaves of the plant Cannabis sativa, it usually is smoked as a cigarette (joint, nail), or in a pipe (bong). It also is smoked in blunts, which are cigars that have been emptied of tobacco and refilled with marijuana, often in combination with another drug. It might also be mixed in food or brewed as a tea. As a more concentrated, resinous form it is called hashish and, as a sticky black liquid, hash oil. Marijuana smoke has a pungent and distinctive, usually sweet-and-sour odor. There are countless street terms for marijuana including pot, herb, weed, grass, widow, ganja, chronic, and hash, as well as terms derived from trademarked varieties of cannabis, such as Bubble Gum, Northern Lights, Fruity Juice, Afghani #1, and a number of Skunk varieties. The main active chemical in marijuana is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). The membranes of certain nerve cells in the brain contain protein receptors that bind to THC. Once securely in place, THC kicks off a series of cellular reactions that ultimately lead to the high that users experience when they smoke marijuana.
Effects of Marijuana
If the person uses cocaine at the same time, severe increases in heart rate and blood pressure can occur. Research also shows more anger and more regressive behavior (thumb sucking, temper tantrums) in toddlers whose parents use marijuana than among the toddlers of non-using parents.
As with any drug of abuse, a mother’s health during pregnancy can be affected, making it a time when expectant mothers should take special care of themselves. Drugs of abuse may interfere with proper nutrition and rest, which can affect good functioning of the immune system. Some studies have found that babies born to mothers who used marijuana during pregnancy were smaller than those born to mothers who did not use the drug. In general, smaller babies are more likely to develop health problems.
A nursing mother who uses marijuana passes some of the THC to the baby in her breast milk. Research indicates that the use of marijuana by a mother during the first month of breast-feeding can impair the infant’s motor development (control of muscle movement).
A drug is addicting if it causes compulsive, often uncontrollable drug craving, seeking, and use, even in the face of negative health and social consequences. Animal studies suggest marijuana causes physical dependence, and some people report withdrawal symptoms.