Last updated: 09/20/2018
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review
Reading Time: 3 minutes
About Marijuana Abuse and Addiction in America
Marijuana abuse has been an occurring problem in America, and many people are trying to make the drug legal. However, just like the majority of all illicit drugs, people can become addicted to marijuana.
Marijuana contains Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the chemical that causes the euphoric high people feel when they smoke or eat marijuana.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the THC in marijuana acts on molecular targets on brain cells, which are called cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are already activated by chemicals similar to THC that naturally work in a person’s body, and they are part of a neural communication system. This system plays an important role in a person’s brain development and how it functions.
When a person develops a marijuana addiction they will feel the need to constantly use the drug. Some people believe that marijuana does not have any real harmful effects, however drug addiction is a brain disease that will cause a person to compulsively seek out and use drugs, it is not the same as dependency, which is where a person will feel ill if the drug is not in their system.
There are various consequences that stem from marijuana use. Marijuana impairs a person’s brain chemicals and increases their heart rate, which can lead to physical problems and mental problems if a person uses the drug for prolonged periods of time. In addition, since most people smoke marijuana, they are more susceptible to lung illnesses as well.
Recent Marijuana Addiction Statistics
Below is list of recent marijuana addiction statistics:
- Compounds in marijuana bind to cannabinoid receptors in a person’s brain which trigger dopamine release. Long-term use of marijuana increases the amount of the drug that users need to reach the same high, it also inhibits the brain’s natural cannabinoids (American Psychological Association).
- According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, when a person smokes marijuana the drug will increases their heart rate by up to100 percent. The increased heart rate effect from marijuana typically lasts up to three hours.
- Marijuana targets and interferes with cannabinoid receptors in areas of the brain that are crucial to cognitive functions, such as, the cerebellum (movement), hippocampus (memory) and amygdala (emotional control) (American Psychological Association).
- More seniors in high school are smoking marijuana now than they are cigarettes (American Psychological Association).
- There is evidence to suggest that using marijuana at an early age can have lifetime negative consequences on a user’s life. Twin studies have shown that people exposed to marijuana as young teenagers are more likely to become dependent on other drugs (American Psychological Association).