The short answer is yes. Frequent use of marijuana can result in what’s referred to as marijuana use disorder. When this disorder becomes severe, it takes the form of addiction. According to the National Institute on drug abuse, recent data suggest that as much as 30 percent of those who use marijuana regularly may have marijuana use disorder to some degree. And, young people who start using marijuana before age 18 are up to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder. If you are looking for an addiction treatment center in Sacramento, you definitely are not alone.
Signs of Marijuana Dependence
Marijuana dependence occurs when the brain adapts to prolonged use by reducing production of certain neurotransmitters. A person who has become dependent experiences withdrawal symptoms if they stop using. This can include sleep difficulties, mood issues, irritability, decreased appetite, physical discomfort in a number of forms, restlessness, and cravings.
One of the issues associated with a significant increase in marijuana dependency in recent decades is the change in chemical composition of “weed.” The potency of marijuana today can be nearly double what it was less than 30 years. In addition to affecting marijuana use disorders, it is feared that these stronger strains of marijuana may cause greater damage to the still-developing brains of young people who use the drug.
Other Effects of Frequent Marijuana Use
Research on the effects of marijuana use is ongoing, and in some cases inconclusive. But, there are studies that suggest that certain areas of the brain associated with things like memory, learning, and impulse control are negatively impacted by long-term use, especially in adolescents.
Other experiments have indicated that prior exposure to cannabinoids may “prime” the brain, creating more sensitivity to other drugs. This is known as cross-sensitization, and is the reason some people consider marijuana to be a “gateway drug.” However, a competing hypothesis is that a person may be naturally more inclined to dependence on all substances, with marijuana simply being the easiest to obtain initially.
Helping People Beat Marijuana Use Disorder
One thing is clear about marijuana use: it can lead to a variety of problems if it gets out of hand. At the New Dawn addiction treatment center in Sacramento, we work with users to assess the degree of the marijuana use disorder and then suggest a course of action that will help them cut back on their use or quit using altogether. Contact us today to learn more about our offerings.