Drug addiction is a serious problem affecting many people around the world. There are a number of things that can be done to help people struggling with addiction, but it is important to first understand the severity of the problem.
Marijuana is one of the most commonly used and widespread recreational drugs. Its use has been decriminalized or even legalized in numerous jurisdictions and territories around the world, and the drug is seeing increased acceptance and normalization.
Despite what many people think, some of the drugs that people don’t think are very dangerous still requires us to be cautious. In fact, surveys have shown that the number of people that are addicted to it have grown from around 4 million in 2016 to over 14 million this year. While it may be safer than other recreational drugs, statistically speaking, its use still carries risks and can cause harm. Let’s take a look at how these drugs affect the body, the risks associated with it, and ask whether or not you can be addicted to it. Read on to find out more.
How Do Drugs Affect the Brain?
Knowing how different drugs affect the brain is essential if we want to learn about its potential risks and for understanding treatment of addiction.
Marijuana, also referred to as cannabis, weed, or pot, is usually smoked in its plant form. It can also be vaporized or even eaten. It contains a psychoactive compound called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the chemical that gives users the high associated with its use.
THC encourages the brain to release more of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which results in feelings of happiness, euphoria, and relaxation. It can also cause psychoactive effects, such as changes to our perception of colour, sound, and time.
How Does Different Drugs Affect the Body?
Drugs like marijuana can have physical effects on the body as well as the brain. Perhaps the most well-known side effect is an increased appetite, commonly referred to as ‘the munchies’. This can lead users to seek out and binge-eat snacks, particularly those high in salt or sugar.
Using these types of drugs increases blood pressure and heart rate, which can cause red, bloodshot eyes. It can potentially lower the pressure in the eyes, which is why it is commonly used among people suffering from glaucoma.
These drugs can potentially reduce pain and inflammation and may even help reduce feelings of nausea.
While cannabis does have some potential health benefits and can be used to reduce the symptoms of various different conditions, it still carries with it some risks.
What are the Risks?
One of the main risks of cannabis and similar drugs is when the plant is smoked. Inhaling smoke is incredibly bad for our lungs, it can lead to damage and a higher rate of infection. Many people combine these drugs with tobacco. This carries even greater risks and can increase the likelihood of cancer.
Cannabis can also lead to mental health problems. Users might find themselves unmotivated and suffering academic or professional performance problems. Abuse of the drug can cause mood swings, irritability, and anxiety.
In extreme cases, use can cause serious mental health problems like paranoia, and it has even been linked to an increased risk of developing schizophrenia. This risk is exacerbated in people who use these drugs regularly over a long period of time and in those who start using it from a young age.
Cannabis is often perceived as a ‘safe’ recreational drug that is mostly harmless. This simply isn’t the case. Like any drug, it can be dangerous, and abuse can have serious long-term implications.
Many people assume that it isn’t addictive. Again, this isn’t true. The use of these types of drugs can lead to dependence and addiction in some people. Let’s find out more.
Can You Be Addicted to Cannabis?
When we think of addictive drugs, we often think of things like heroin, cocaine, and prescription opioids. While these are certainly among the most addictive drugs, cannabis can also lead to dependence.
Addiction can be insidious and harder to detect than other addictions. However, we are starting to see increasing reports of addiction, with some studies suggesting that as much as 30% of marijuana users may have some dependence issues with the drug.
Addiction is characterized by dependence on the drug. Users may feel like they need to take the drug as part of their daily routine. If not, they can be irritable and angry, suffer from concentration problems, sleep disorders, or issues with eating and digestion.
Drug abuse can lead to social and behavioral problems. Users may withdraw from families and social situations, they may be increasingly absent from work and school, and they could suffer financial or legal difficulties.
Like other addictions, addiction means that sufferers are unable to control themselves or stop using the drug, despite the negative and detrimental effects their use is having on their lives.
How Does Drug Addiction Work?
Most drugs work by encouraging the brain to release dopamine which in turn creates feelings of happiness and euphoria. The drug can also affect areas of the brain that control stress and fear, reducing these feelings while the drug is in the system.
Tolerance to the drug increases over time as the brain becomes desensitized. This means users have to take more and more of the drug to feel the same effects. What’s more, as the brain becomes more desensitized, users eventually start taking it to reduce the negative feelings caused by withdrawal rather than for the positive emotions associated with the high.
Drug withdrawals can be particularly unpleasant, even if the drug is not very dangerous. Sufferers can experience mood swings, anxiety, insomnia, and appetite disruption. This makes for a cycle that is incredibly hard to break out of, with users relapsing and using the drug again and again.
How to Help Someone With a Drug Addiction
It’s important to remember that drug addiction is a disease. When dealing with someone with a drug addiction, offer support and guidance in a sensitive and non-judgmental way. Drug addiction carries a lot of social stigmas, and sufferers may be ashamed. This is why it’s so important to approach the subject with tact. Otherwise, you could get pushback and only make the situation worse. You also need to be aware of the signs that someone has an addiction.
Some drugs are increasingly normalized in today’s society and is being legalized in countries across the world. However, it’s important to remember that the substance still carries risks and can cause addiction, as well as a number of potential physical and mental health problems. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, it’s important you seek help and guidance from trained addiction specialists who can help overcome the problem.