Marijuana dependence is a social issue that is significantly more prevalent than the average person realizes. Marijuana is often considered a harmless recreational or medical drug. Rarely does the discussion of marijuana dependence come up. The truth is that any substance that has the capacity to alter the chemical state of the brain, which cannabis does through the presence of THC, has the ability to cause the development of an addiction.
Despite the recent successful effort to legalize marijuana in a number of states, it is still classified as a drug, and it is derived from the leaves and buds of the Cannabis sativa, the hemp plant. Some of the common street names include pot, weed, herb, and Mary Jane, among others. The active chemical ingredient in this drug, that is primarily responsible for the high that users feel, is 9-tetrahydro-cannabinol, also known as THC.
Part of the problem with marijuana dependence is the fact that there is a significant number of users that don't understand the dynamic of addiction. Dependence is the result of a change in the chemicals in the brain that is created by the use of the drug of choice. As the person uses the drug, it changes the chemical makeup of the brain. The more the person uses the drug, the more intense these chemical changes will become.
At some point in the process, the brain will recognize its new chemical makeup as being normal, and it will fight to sustain it by demanding the drug. The adverse effects and bad feelings that are associated with this process are called withdrawal symptoms, and if the drug is not introduced into the body, the cravings will become increasingly more violent, as the brain insists on having the drug. Once the person reaches the point in which they cannot deny the brain what it is demanding, they have become addicted, subsequently needing treatment to fight off the addiction.
This process works the same with cannabis. This drug is not as potent as other illicit drugs so this process is more subtle and it takes longer to take place, but when addiction occurs, it is a real issue, and it can be very challenging to break.
As with other chemical addictions, the possibility of developing secondary addictions is a reality. One of the most common secondary addictions associated with marijuana is some form of an eating disorder. Although secondary in nature, an addiction has the capacity to have a negative impact on the life of the person who is suffering from the addiction and anyone in their periphery. This is why it is extremely important to treat these secondary addictions at the same time that the drug addiction is being treated.
One thing that must be understood about marijuana use is that very rarely is the marijuana being used in the natural state of the Cannabis Sativa. The plant has been mutated so many times, seeking to increase its potency, so its impact is significantly more potent than it was 20 or 30 years ago. Cannabis abuse can cause memory loss, a permanent sense of lethargy, a general lack of interest in life, and more. Any person who feels that they may be suffering from marijuana dependence should seek immediate help from a professional.