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Due to marijuana’s ever-changing legal status around the country, scientists at the NIH are pressing for public education on the potential dangers of using this drug, including marijuana addiction. Marijuana use is certainly not harmless according a recent NIH study, which found that in the past year 2.5% of adults in the U.S. or 6 million people, suffered from marijuana use disorder. This is clinically classified as a form of drug dependence or abuse.

Symptoms of drug dependence, including marijuana addiction, involve craving the drug, building a tolerance, and suffering withdrawal symptoms, which are insomnia, anxiety, depression, or anger within one week of quitting heavy use. According to scientists at the NIH, because a lot of people drink alcohol while using marijuana, more research should be done to fully grasp the effects of their combined use.

In this study, researchers questioned over 36,000 American adults on their alcohol and drug use as well as discussing any related psychiatric disorders. They found marijuana use disorder to be common, with 6.3% of adults questioned having acquired a dependence on marijuana at one point or another in their lives. For the most part, marijuana addiction or dependence goes without treatment.

Approximately twice as many men are diagnosed with marijuana use disorder as women. The study also showed that younger adults are much more apt to be diagnosed with the disorder than those over 45 years of age.

Researchers found that marijuana addiction or cannabis dependence is consistently and strongly associated with other mental health and substance use disorders. Those suffering from this are highly disabled from a mental standpoint, and their symptoms may very well continue on after stopping use.

Only around 7% to 14% of people diagnosed with marijuana use disorder get any specific treatment for this condition. The study authors conclude that it is urgent that effective treatments be identified for marijuana use disorder and marijuana addiction, since addiction definitely does lead to definite changes in the brain.

Marijuana interrupts how the brain cells transmit, process and receive information, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). What the drug does is overstimulate the reward system in the brain, which produces a sense of euphoria. When use continues on, the brain simply adapts to these marijuana-induced flood of dopamine by reducing the natural production of dopamine or by decreasing the number of receptors for dopamine in the brain’s reward circuit. Not long after, this person can no longer enjoy the usual pleasures of life and finds himself or herself trapped in a destructive cycle of drug use to compensate for the fun they’ve lost.

NIDA explains that marijuana addiction is a chronic condition/disease, one that can’t be cured by quitting drugs for a few days. Most addicts need repeated or long-term care to completely and finally end their use of drugs. In addition to staying drug-free, treatment isn’t fully successful until it helps them become productive and offers them support in leading a normal life.

Unfortunately, in Tennessee, among individuals with drug abuse or dependence, only about 10.6% of these individuals actually receive treatment. Only about one-third of young adults (18 to 25) with any mental disorder receives any type of mental health treatment.  Furthermore, less half of all individuals with any mental illness in Tennessee will receive mental health treatment. If you or a loved one is involved with marijuana addiction, please give us a call!

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