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Chronic pot can have serious effects on the brain, experts say

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By Shamard Charles, MD

Since marijuana legalization builds speed in the United States &#821

1; with Michigan as the latest state to allow adult use of adults – scientists warn that more studies Needed about the long-term effects of chronic potting on the human brain.

Marijuana is the most common illegal drug in the United States, but little is known about its effect on health or how addictive it is.

According to a 2017 survey conducted by Marist College and Yahoo News, more than half of American adults have tried marijuana at least once a year, and nearly 55 million of them or 22 percent say they are using it at the moment. Nearly 35 million is what the survey calls “common users”, people who say they use marijuana at least once or twice a month.

“Surprisingly, many people are free to use marijuana, but underreporting is still a problem,” said Jonathan Caulkins, a drug research scientist and professor at Carnegie Mellon University. “To correct it, you should fudge up by a factor of 20 to 40 percent.”

With Michigan electoral action, 10 states and the District of Columbia now allow the drug open use. 33 states plus DC allows medical use and leaves many to wonder if the United States will follow Canada’s leadership in legalizing marijuana nationwide.

Consequences of Chronic Marijuana Usage

Nathaniel Warner, 31, a data analyst at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, first tried marijuana when he was 19, during his freshman years of college. Warner had difficulty adapting to campus life at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota.

“It was a tough transition for me and I was dealing with social anxiety,” told Warner for NBC News.

Nathaniel Warner, 31, from Rochester, Minnesota. Courtesy of Nathaniel Warner

First, he only smoked at school break three or four times during the school year. “But before I knew it was summer and I smoke daily,” he said. “It just made me feel like I had never experienced before.”

After four years of heavy use, Warner noticed that his brief memory began to bark. He wondered to talk to people and party the feelings of anxiety and depression grew. He tried to mask them with weeds, deepen his addiction. In 2010, Warner achieved his life, finished his job and joined his girlfriend.

“I was hopeless. I realized that this lifestyle was unfortunate and got high will never change. I did not want to go through a 30- to 40-year-old bike to go to work and get home and get high. did not see a flight from it. This shook me, “Warner said.

Warner’s story is unfortunately not unusual.

While alcohol is more dangerous in terms of acute overdose risk, and also in promoting violence and chronic organ failure, “marijuana – at least currently used in the United States – creates higher behavioral patterns, including addiction among all its users” says Caulkins.

Is marijuana addictive?

The research is heading towards yes.

Studies have shown that chronic marijuana use affects the same brain structures involved in addiction.

The National Drug Abuse Institute suggests that 30 percent of those who use marijuana may have some degree of “marijuana use disorder.”

Marijuana use disorders are often associated with addiction – where a person feels withdrawal symptoms when not taking the drug. Frequent users report irritability, mood and sleep problems, decreased appetite, cravings, restlessness and physical discomfort that rise within the first week after completion and lasts up to two weeks. Marijuana resuscitation occurs when the brain adapts to large amounts of the drug, which requires more and more to create the desired euphoric effect.

Marijuana use disorder becomes addicted when the smoker can not stop using the drug even though it interferes with many aspects of his or her life. Estimates of the number of people dependent on marijuana are controversial, in part because drug use studies often use addictions as a measure of abuse despite the fact that it is possible to be dependent without being addicted.

In Warner’s case, he developed both an addiction and an addiction. The first time he decided seriously to quit, he gave his girlfriend to keep it away from him. Later that day he came home and talked to her to give it back.

“Although I was serious when I was clean, I returned,” he said. “The issue of addiction is that you can wake up and be 100 percent convinced you will not use again. You can take a light sensor test and you would pass with flying colors, but 12 hours later a trigger can make you change and You can get high again. “

Signs of Marijuana Occupants

  • Inability to Cut Down or Stop Using
  • Using More Than Intended
  • Does not Meet Daily Responsibility Like Going to School or Work
  • Choosing Relationships and activities based on whether you will be able to get high.

Researchers estimate that 4 million people in the United States met the criteria for marijuana abuse in 2015, but only 138,000 of them sought voluntary treatment.

How bad is chronic marijuana?

Most experts agree that more research needs to be done to answer this question correctly. First, there is no universal definition of what constitutes “chronic” use.

A Canadian study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 2017 showed a significant increase in “psychotic experiences” in teenage users. The study also reported adverse effects on cognitive development and increased symptoms of depression.

Other studies show that chronic use can even interfere with the normal development of the adolescent brain.

Patricia Conrad, professor of psychiatry at the University of Montreal, believes that more research needs to be done to see the effects of chronic marijuana use on the brain.

“Love has increased over time,” says Conrad. We see more and more products that extract CBD oil from the product, resulting in more and more products with strong cannabis levels, “Conrad said.

A study that received a huge amount of publicity looked at 38,600 samples of cannabis confiscated from 1995 to 2014.

Analysis of these samples showed that the mean of THC, the psychoactive part of the drug, increased from 4 percent in 1995 to over 12 percent in 2014. At the same time, cannabidiol, non-psychoactive component in marijuana, fell from 0.28 percent to 0.15 percent. This change in the relationship between THC and CBD has a pronounced effect on the perceived potency of the drug.

The average strength of the flow product sold on Washington’s licensed markets is over 20 percent and the average potency of extract based products – like wafer pencils, dabs and the like – are close to 70 percent, says Caulkins. She said more research needed vs to see how this difference in strength, the body compared to the weaker product studied earlier.

As learned more about the effects of marijuana on the brain and the body, experts hope to find out if marijuana is a drug that can be treated as alcohol or if it is a highly addictive drug that needs to be highly regulated, like tobacco.

Warner has been sober since October 17, 2010. He thanks his parents, Mayo Clinic’s intensive drug addiction program and his 12-step recovery team to help him get back on track, but he warns others about using the drug recreationally.

“Addiction is real. It’s a slow decline. It takes a few years to get to the low point and year to slowly build yourself,” says Warner. “Recovery is not easy, even for a guy like me had resources, a support system and no real bad consequences, like losing my job or going to prison. “

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