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Heavy Marijuana Use in Youth Depletes Dopamine

Heavy Marijuana Use and Cannabis Abuse - Bergand Group

There’s no question that levels of cannabis abuse have been rising lately as more and more young people come to believe that there are little to no harmful effects of heavy marijuana use.  Unfortunately, not only is this far from the truth, but this lack of understanding about the facts can lead to “severe marijuana dependence [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][which] is associated with a reduced release of dopamine.”

The Critical Effects of Early Heavy Marijuana Use

Over an extended period of heavy marijuana use, the individual’s ability to experience certain feelings naturally dwindles.  This is the case here, where cannabis abuse diminishes the brain’s ability to produce chemicals such as dopamine, resulting in the unfortunate fact that the person can’t experience that chemical release without the “aid” of weed.  Because this lack of released dopamine occurs within a part of the brain called the striatum, which is “involved in working memory, impulsive behavior, and attention,” “greater emotional withdrawal and inattention” noted within these patients may be explained, at least in part.

Though this isn’t the only drug to have these effects, the full scope of what happens alongside heavy marijuana use is only recently coming to light within the scientific community.  As more and more risk factors come to light, there is an increased need for serious education for young people about the results of drug use of any kind, but particularly marijuana, since it’s considered “harmless” in many young minds.

Part of dopamine’s responsibilities are to provide the individual with motivation and with the energy and drive to act.  As a result, “people with low levels of dopamine are statistically more prone to drug abuse, addiction, and amotivational syndrome.”  It’s a vicious cycle, considering that the lower levels of this chemical may be a result of heavy marijuana use, but it may have begun in the first place as a result of already having a deficiency.  Of course, it isn’t only mood and motivation that is affected, but also the ability to learn and remember things.  It isn’t difficult to imagine how cannabis abuse might have hugely negative effects for students who are in some of the most crucial schooling periods of their lives.

Heavy marijuana use can shape the person’s body and mind and affects a myriad of things from mood to attention to behavior.  The most dangerous part of cannabis abuse is the lack of concern in high school and college-age teens who may be getting into the habit either with or without knowledge of the effects.  In the past few years, “the proportion of adolescents who perceive marijuana as risky has decreased to an all-time low of 45 percent.”  Less than half of this demographic view excessive using of this substance as something that could really harm them and impede their futures, or worse.  If they have better or more expansive educational programs, these young people will at least be presented with the facts, and will then be able to make a more informed decision about whether drug use is worth it.

People often discuss the way that the brain still develops into a person’s mid-twenties, so it isn’t difficult to imagine the huge impacts of long periods of smoking weed on a young brain.  To get more information about the dangers of heavy marijuana use, or to get help for addiction of any kind, get in touch with The Bergand Group. The Bergand Group is Maryland’s leading addiction recovery center, and offers support for those struggling with addiction and mental health issues.

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About The Bergand Group:

At The Bergand Group in Baltimore and Harford County, Maryland, our therapists have more than twenty years of experience in the mental health and addiction fields. Our focus is on providing comprehensive mental health care and appropriate care for addictive disorders. We offer both alcohol rehab and drug rehabilitation. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or substance addiction, there is help available. We also offer several other services, including family therapy and counseling. We can help. Contact us today.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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