Cannabinoid Addiction

What are Cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are a group of drugs that share an active agent found in Cannabis plants (THC) or synthetically derived to mimic cannabis plants. These include Marijuana, Spice, and K2. Cannabis is a type of plant and drug that has been studied for its beneficial effects in managing countless health issues and is gaining legality across the country. Although certain cannabinoids have been shown to help treat some conditions, the increased legalization has caused concerns about a potential increase in addiction among all ages. Cannabinoid addiction is concerning because it can be particularly harmful to minors and individuals whose brain development is not complete.

List of Cannabinoids

Marijuana

The marijuana plant flower buds contain CBD and THC, and when smoked, they produce a “high” that reduces feelings of stress or anxiety.

Spice

A type of synthetic marijuana and a street drug, Spice, is created by spraying plants with chemical substances that create a high.

K2

K2 is another strain of synthetic marijuana that is illegally manufactured and sold on the streets.

CBD

The proper name for CBD is a Cannabidiol, a substance extracted from low THC hemp plants that do not get the user high.

Is Marijuana Addictive?

A major debate is whether or not marijuana is actually addictive. Although marijuana use does not cause the same type of cravings as substances such as methamphetamine, it is possible to develop an alcohol use disorder or physical dependence. Similar to alcohol, long term use can lead to physical changes in the brain that lead to withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, it is not uncommon for people to continue using marijuana even if it has begun to cause negative consequences in their life. In these ways, marijuana is indeed addictive.

Signs of Marijuana Addiction

  • Using marijuana on a daily basis
  • Getting high before going to work/school/etc.
  • Frequent red/heavy eyes
  • Carrying eye drops to hide red/heavy eyes
  • Lack of motivation to participate in activities or tend to responsibilities
  • Withdrawing from social situations with friends and family

Treating Marijuana Addiction

Marijuana addiction does not cause physical withdrawal symptoms like alcohol, opioids, or depressants. However, there can be a number of psychological and emotional effects that can lead to relapsing. Anxiety, depression, and insomnia are a few examples of what someone may experience when they stop using marijuana or other cannabinoids. An addiction treatment program can provide cannabinoid users with a safe space to overcome drug use and work through the various barriers that could challenge their sobriety. 

Group Therapy – builds a support system where individuals can share their experiences and explore common struggles.

Individual Therapy – provides a safe space to speak openly and honestly about cannabinoid use, identify triggers, and develop coping strategies for relapse prevention.

Life Skills Development – helps develop tools for a healthy, productive day-to-day life without substance use.

Medical Cannabinoids

Many medical benefits of cannabinoids have been found, but only for certain types of cannabinoids. One of the most common examples of medically significant use of cannabinoids is the strain Charlotte’s Web, which was named after a young girl who suffered from severe seizures. This particular strain of low THC cannabis was given to her, which nearly eliminated the seizures and allowed Charlotte to thrive. 

As more research has been conducted and more has become known about how cannabis helps certain conditions, laws have been passed across the country legalizing the use of medical marijuana. This controlled use allows for prescriptions to be issued to obtain cannabinoid products. Additionally, many strains of marijuana have been carefully bred to increase the presence of certain cannabinoids and decrease others. 

Risks of Marijuana Use

Although medical marijuana legalization has made great strides, unregulated natural and synthetic marijuana is being sold on the streets and sometimes being laced with other substances. Not knowing what exactly is in the drugs used means not know what the side effects could be. For this reason, there is anyways a risk when using marijuana purchased illegally. 

Additionally, unless doctors are well trained in when to prescribe marijuana or other cannabinoids, and how to identify the signs, addiction is still a sincere concern.

Sources:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4446186/
https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/marijuana-addictive

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