Recent research has linked marijuana & your personal life abuse with certain mental disorders and issues. There’s a strong correlation between pot use and psychosis and negative emotionality. This correlation is strongest among those who started cannabis use early. Young adults are the most vulnerable. Unfortunately, many young adults can easily get their hands on marijuana, and marijuana use often starts early.
The study shows that marijuana users are likelier to feel alienated. They are also more likely to struggle with depression and other mental disorders. The effects were most pronounced in those struggling with a cannabis use disorder and who had a strong dependence on the THC drug. It was also more pronounced among long-term users as well.
These new findings may greatly impact America’s perception of cannabis. After all, over 50% of American adults have experimented with weed at least once in their life. Approximately 35 million adults use marijuana at least once or twice a month, and 22%, or 55 million, use it at least once or twice a year. This means that many Americans may struggle with depression or other mental disorders.
Cannabis Research on Its Effect on the Brain
The reason why cannabis use may have a negative effect on one’s mental health is that regular marijuana use alters dopamine levels in the brain. The altered resting state of dopamine in various brain regions interferes with one’s mood and mental health. Dopamine plays a major part in reward-motivated behavior and motor control, among many other functions. It’s one of the key players that cause recreational drug use to become an addiction.
Before the research was published, many scientists hypothesized that marijuana use would increase activity in certain brain areas. This means that those areas became hyperactive. There would be higher levels of neurotransmitters in those areas of the brain. The signals would amplify.
Scientists have recently measured brain activity in heavy marijuana users and non-cannabis users. The goal was to see whether pot use affects certain areas of the brain. Among heavy marijuana & your personal life users, the effects of cannabis use were seen in the:
- Lateral thalamus
- Midbrain, specifically at the substantia nigra and ventral tegmental nuclei
- Ventral striatum, especially where the nucleus accumbens is located
The THC drug can also affect other parts of the brain as well. The effects are most pronounced in individuals who started cannabis use early in life. It was also more prevalent among individuals who struggled with mental health disorders.
Regular marijuana users were more likely to feel alienated. Feelings of alienation were linked with high subcortical connectivity. This means heavy pot users had difficulties connecting and relating with others. They were also less likely to enjoy social interactions and were more likely to feel as if their friends had betrayed them or wished them harm. These feelings may be strong, even though there’s no evidence to back them.
Using Brain Imaging to Gauge Psychiatric Condition of Addicts
This marijuana research is important because it shows a psychopathology associated with pot use. Healthcare providers can examine each patient’s resting-state brain function to gauge the intensity of the psychiatric symptoms among cannabis users. This can help determine the severity of the addiction or the cannabis use disorder.
The resting-brain state function is a non-invasive procedure. It uses brain imaging equipment to look at how the brain works. These images may become key data in diagnosing the psychiatric condition of marijuana users as they progress through recovery. It also shows how habits are formed.
This type of test observes changes in blood flow and how these changes affect brain function. It’s also known as a blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) signal. To get the data needed, researchers measure brain chemistry through functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
How Does Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) Work
So, how does functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) work?
A physicist named Seiji Ogawa first invented this technology in the early 1990s. He noticed that oxygen-poor hemoglobin and oxygen-rich hemoglobin reacted differently in magnetic fields. The pull of the magnetic field differed by as much as 20%. He realized that he could use the contrast between the two to map out brain activity using a normal MRI scan.
In essence, the fMRI picks up increased blood flow in certain areas of the brain. The scan measures not only blood flow, but also blood volume and oxygen use.
To measure one’s resting-state brain function, one would lay down inside the machine. The machine aims radio waves at protons in the body. When the magnetic field comes in contact with protons, the waves line up. Protons that are located in oxygen-rich areas release the strongest signals. They are the easiest to pick up and detect.
The signals are then intercepted and processed by a computer. The computer changes the signal into a 3D image that maps out a more detailed view of one’s brain activity. Doctors can analyze the results to find out which areas are hyperactive among marijuana abusers.
Other Effects of Cannabis Use on the Brain
Upon ingesting marijuana, the THC drug will make its way into the bloodstream. If an individual smokes pot, the THC drug will diffuse from the membrane at the lungs into the veins nearby. If the pot was consumed, the THC drug enters the bloodstream at the intestines. Approximately 90% of the THC drug is circulated in the plasma; the rest attaches to the red blood cells.
Through the bloodstream, the THC drug then travels to the brain. It then attaches to specific receptors to affect dopamine production. Hyperactivity at these receptors causes the brain chemistry to go haywire. This causes an individual to feel “high”. It is also responsible for a vast array of other side effects.
Short-Term Effects of Marijuana & Your Personal Life
Marijuana use will have some common short-term effects on the brain. The intensity of the effects will depend on the dose taken. It also depends each individual’s biological makeup. Some of the most common short-term effects include:
- An altered sense of time
- Altered senses
- Cognitive function difficulties, like an inability to problem solve
- Delusions, hallucinations and psychosis when taken in high doses
- Loss of memory or impaired memory
- Mood swings, like irritability and anxiousness
- Motor function impairment
These effects of cannabis use are usually temporary. They will subside as the THC drug clears from your body. The THC drug may remain in the bloodstream of regular weed users for up to 1 week after ingestion. It can clear within 24 hours among first-time users. Even when the THC drug clears from the body, certain metabolites are still detectable using a hair or urine test.
Marijuana can stay in the body for quite some time. This is because the THC drug can be stored in fat cells since it is fat-soluble. It will stay in a user’s body for much longer than any other drug or illicit substance.
Other Long-Term Effects of Pot Use on the Brain
Marijuana use and abuse can have a permanent, long-term effect among chronic users. This happens when the brain chemistry has changed for an extended amount of time. Long-term effects of THC drug include:
- Cognitive impairment, and a decline in IQ
- Learning disabilities
- Memory loss
- Negative emotionality
Marijuana use may also affect how the brain builds connection between various areas. Long-term cannabis use has also been linked to breathing problems, an increased heart rate and intense nausea and vomiting. Some individuals may even develop schizophrenia. Those struggling with a co-occurring disorder, like depression, anxiety or suicidal thoughts, may feel their symptoms worsening.
The long-term effects of marijuana use are due to the fact that the brain chemistry levels have gone completely haywire. The brain slowly gets used to the altered brain chemistry levels, and changes to adapt. The adaptation leads to the different side effects.
Cannabis Use Statistics and Facts
Marijuana abuse is often seen as not as dangerous as the abuse of other illicit substances. Yet, it can be just as addictive. It’s not difficult for cannabis use to get out of hand. Below are some interesting marijuana facts:
- 30.6% of marijuana users fit the requirements of having a marijuana use disorder
- 1 in 11 pot users will become addicted
- 58.7% of teenagers between the ages of 12 to 17 find it easy to get weed
- 6.7% of current marijuana users are between the ages of 12 and 17; they are most susceptible to experiencing psychiatric disorders
Marijuana use is not as harmless as what most people would like to believe. While it does offer some medicinal benefits, its use should be carefully monitored. Improper use can also come with some unwanted side effects, as shown in the latest marijuana research. Depending on one’s biological makeup, among many other factors, some users are more prone to developing mental health issues than others.
Become Healthier by Quitting or Managing Marijuana Use
Marijuana users who feel as if they are spiraling down into depression or are feeling alienated should seek help. Brain imaging and a variety other assessments can help diagnose one’s psychiatric condition. It can also help determine whether one’s marijuana use has become an addiction and gotten out of hand. If it has, it’s time to reign it back in.
Those who feel as if they need help should not hesitate to contact us. We are not only familiar with the best treatment approaches available at the moment, but we can also tailor the treatment to each patient’s needs. We offer a wide variety of treatment plans and different levels of care.
We can help patients either abstain from marijuana use or learn how to manage it. Our medical staff and counselors will assess each patient’s situation to determine what the best course of action may be. Our goal is to help you lead a healthier and more fulfilling life.
Marijuana & Your Personal Life with AspenRidge Treatment Center
It is not easy to recover from addiction on your own. To achieve a successful recovery from addiction, there is a need for a good rehabilitation center.
AspenRidge Recovery offers treatment for people struggling with marijuana addiction and other substance use disorders. These people can get help at Colorado Marijuana Rehab Center as soon as possible. AspenRidge Recovery has different centers in Fort Collins, Denver, and Colorado Springs, all in Colorado.
In addition, there are different marijuana addiction treatments peculiar to each individual. For questions, clarifications, and to know more about AspenRidge Recovery, contact us today at (719) 259-1107.