Marijuana is one of the most commonly abused psychoactive substances that can be found today. This is due to the easy cultivation of the plant, and its ability to be distributed and stored even under the harshest conditions- making it extremely cheap and readily accessible even to adolescents and young adults.
Many myths exist about how impossible it is to be addicted to marijuana. However, studies have shown that it is possible to get addicted to marijuana, and it can eventually lead to problems in the quality of lifestyle of the abuser in question.
How does Marijuana work?
Marijuana is derived from the cannabis plant, which contains deposits of ‘Delta -9- Tetrahydrocannabinol’, more commonly referred to as THC, as well as ‘Cannabidiol’ which is referred to as CBD. Both substances act on an individual’s neural system by attaching to the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors present in the neurons. These receptors are meant to work with the endocannabinoids that are naturally secreted by the brain to regulate the flow of neurotransmitters which are being sent from one neuron to the next.
All that may seem like too much science to the casual reader so in summary it can be put more easily that; THC and CBD that are ingested from Marijuana consumption attach to the cannabinoid receptors in your nervous system. This makes it impossible for your natural ‘endocannabinoids’ to attach to these receptors- eventually causing the neural impairment that can be noticed shortly after the consumption of a sufficient dose of marijuana.
How then is this addictive?
The cannabinoid receptors in our nervous systems aren’t just there to receive THC and CBD from marijuana. They are functionally there so as to receive information from the body’s natural endocannabinoids which act as a regulator for the transmission of information across the neurons. When continuous use of THC causes these endocannabinoids to be underused, the brain will reduce the quantities of the natural endocannabinoids it produces, meaning once marijuana/THC consumption stops, the body will be unable to produce the required amount of endocannabinoids. This may eventually cause withdrawal symptoms and may prompt a relapse for those trying to quit cold turkey. It is important to understand that marijuana is physically addictive, although to a lesser degree than other addictive substances. Understanding this will significantly reduce the chances of potential relapse.
The effects of THC and CBD on the brain are even more profound in users who begin at a younger age. This is because the brain is still undergoing significant development, and such impairment in the functioning of neurotransmitters will only hinder the necessary development of the brain, which is essential for proper cognitive functioning later in life- also making it significantly more difficult for these individuals to drop the habit later in life, even though it is still possible.
How to fight the addiction.
To fight cannabis addiction one must first remove himself from the drug. This also includes situations prompting easy access and consumption of the substance. Marijuana is highly criminalized in most societies, so access to the drug can only be found in niches that must be sought out by the drug user. These niches may be a casual hangout with friends or an establishment which provides easy access to the substance. As an addict trying to kick the habit, it is important one identifies these niches and then finds ways to extract oneself from these situations.
Most times it may involve losing some intimate companionship. However, it is important that one understands the necessity of this loss to his or her personal development.
While undergoing cannabis detox, it may take a few weeks for the THC to be completely eliminated from the system. This can be a trying period for those psychologically dependent on the drug. It is important for a struggling addict to have a support person guiding him through the process- preferably a medical practitioner. However, a close relative or family member will suffice.
Anxiety, and insomnia are common amongst cannabis users undergoing detox and it is advisable to have medical practitioners constantly evaluate the progress of an addict undergoing detox. Cannabis detox can be done in a professional institution, or with an ‘at home program’ in the more profound cases of addiction- with prescription medication being administered to counter the effects. These cases are extremely rare. However, many users of cannabis can kick the habit with just the right amount of dedication and self- awareness.