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Is THC Addictive?

THC is the main active chemical in marijuana, and it is used for medical purposes in pills that are mostly THC. It is known that THC causes dependence, and can lead to addiction.

This is a very old question, but, with years of scientific research on addictions, THC, and the intricate neurotransmitter workings of the mind, the consensus is yes.

How Does THC Work?

marijuana addiction

THC is the active chemical in marijuana.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the most common method of using THC is by smoking marijuana or ingesting foods that contain marijuana. Synthetic THC pills have been used to treat glaucoma, neurological disorders, and to reduce nausea and increase appetite in AID’s and cancer patients.

Our brains have extensive systems of nerves that communicate with each other and scientists have discovered that THC mimics some of our natural neurotransmitters and stimulates cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system which is involved in the physiological processes of mood, memory, pain sensations, appetite, and development.

THC, like other drugs, also activates the brain’s reward center (Nucleus Accumbens) by increasing dopamine which we naturally produce in response to behaviors that bear repeating and promote survival such as eating, exercise, and sexual activity. When dopamine is repeatedly increased through the use of drugs, the behaviors of addiction are reinforced.

THC Tolerance

THC tolerance is known to occur in varying degrees in individuals. There a lot of contributing factors to tolerance including; duration of use, the various potencies and strains of the marijuana, frequency of use, age of first use, mental health status, and other biological influences.

THC Dependency

Prolonged exposure to THC can lead to dependency, but, because THC is a fatty acid that builds up in fat stores and is gradually released after abstinence, the withdrawal symptoms are not immediately recognized. In those who do develop a THC dependency, withdrawal signs of cravings, restlessness, appetite changes, depression, nervousness, and perspiring may occur gradually over a few days. With chronic THC use, aggressive behaviors have been known to begin 3-7 days after last use and last for approximately 28 days.

THC Addiction

Addictions are measured by tolerance, withdrawal, loss of control, preoccupation with the dug, and continued use despite adverse consequences. The psychoactive compound of THC changes the way the brain functions and an especially critical concern is its effects on develop in teens and adolescents. Studies have shown that when marijuana use begins in these early ages, there are significant cognitive deficits in those individuals. Regular use of THC daily has also been linked to neurological impairments and these two issues acts as catalysts for addictive behaviors.

There is no way of predicting who will become addicted to THC, but, psychologically symptoms are most apparent. Users may feel the need to use THC to self medicate and deal with daily life stressors or rationalize it as a safer dug to use.

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