Marijuana Abuse and Addiction in Orlando

Marijuana is a psychoactive substance derived from the cannabis plant. It is the most popular illicit drug in the United States. Many street names are used to refer to it, including cannabis, weed, pot, grass and Mary Jane.

What Is Marijuana?

When someone uses marijuana according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, they can smoke it in traditional pipes, water pipes or a rolled cigarette. Some people also roll marijuana in cigar paper to smoke it. As marijuana has become recreationally legal in more states, it is not uncommon to see it added to certain foods and candies to be eaten.

Though a handful of states have legalized recreational marijuana use, the federal level has not. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) categorizes marijuana as a Schedule I drug. Schedule I drugs do not have an accepted medical use at the federal level and have a high potential for abuse and dependence.

Marijuana contains a psychoactive ingredient called THC. This ingredient is one of more than 500 other chemicals found in the marijuana plant. When someone uses marijuana, THC and other chemicals from the plant enter the lungs and the bloodstream. Then, these chemicals go from the bloodstream to the brain.

The effects of marijuana can include euphoria and relaxation, based on information from the U.S. National Library of Medicine. There can be a lot of variance in the effects felt from person-to-person. Some people might feel changes in their perception of time and alterations in sensory perception. Other common effects of marijuana include increased appetite, laughter and paranoia.

Some people experience additional negative effects. Some people may have a sense of anxiety or panic if they use marijuana. If someone uses a high dose or a dose that’s very strong, these negative effects are more likely to occur.

Over time, marijuana can cause significant problems with learning, memory and behavior. If someone smokes marijuana, they may also experience many of the same negative side effects as smoking cigarettes. These negative side effects can include respiratory problems and the increased risk of lung cancer.

As with other psychoactive substances, marijuana creates its effects by altering the function of the brain’s neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters play a role in how messages are sent in the brain. THC binds to and activates cannabinoid receptors. When these receptors are activated, it can also stimulate the reward system in the brain. As a result, THC can trigger the release of the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine.

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Is Marijuana Addictive?

The question of whether or not marijuana is an addictive substance is one that’s widely debated. The consensus from medical professionals and the National Institute on Drug Abuse is that marijuana use can lead to problematic substance use. This is characterized as marijuana use disorder. In severe cases, a person can become addicted to marijuana.

A marijuana use disorder can involve dependence or addiction. People dependent on or addicted to marijuana can experience unpleasant symptoms or withdrawal upon cessation. Marijuana dependence occurs because the brain adapts to the drug’s effect on the endocannabinoid neurotransmitter system. The brain then feels as if it can’t function normally without marijuana.

If someone has marijuana addiction, it means they use the drug compulsively. Their use of marijuana interferes with their daily life, and they typically continue to use it even when it causes negative outcomes.

Some side effects of marijuana addiction might include:

  • Using marijuana despite not wanting to, or having the feeling of being unable to stop using it
  • Spending significant amounts of time using marijuana or trying to obtain more
  • Spending large sums of money on marijuana
  • Experiencing legal or financial troubles caused by seeking or using marijuana
  • Prioritizing marijuana over other areas and responsibilities of life

Marijuana Addiction Statistics

Because marijuana has become more mainstream and legally accepted, there is a misconception that it’s risk-free. Unfortunately, people see it as completely safe to the point that they don’t think about the potential for abuse, addiction and other consequences.

The following are important marijuana facts and statistics:

  • It’s estimated that in the United States demonstrated the criteria for marijuana use disorder in 2015 according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse
  • People who use marijuana before the age of 18 are anywhere from likely to develop marijuana use disorder when compared with people who didn’t use it until they were older
  • The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that 30 percent of people who use marijuana might have some level of marijuana use disorder
  • According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States — the results of that study showed 22.2 million people reported using it in the prior month
  • According to data gathered by the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), there were almost 456,000 drug-related visits to the emergency department in the U.S. in 2011. Many of these visits were believed to be related to the increased potency of marijuana.
  • In 2013 it was estimated that Americans use marijuana every day, and that number is likely higher now since it’s legal in many states

Many people with a marijuana use disorder seek addiction treatment. If you would like to learn more information about marijuana, its effects and how to get treatment, contact the Orlando Recovery Center today!

Medical Disclaimer: Orlando Recovery Center aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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