One worry people tend to have is that marijuana negatively affects your brain chemicals. The two brain chemicals it mainly affects are dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine is a chemical that is produced when you do something good. It acts as a reward chemical. It is what makes you feel pleasure when you eat, have sex, or use drugs. Using marijuana can increase dopamine, but after regular and long term use it ends up decreasing. It is only a temporary effect, but can cause problems for many people.

On the other hand, serotonin is a chemical that can controls your mood, emotions, appetite, and sleep. Marijuana activates cannabinoid receptors which increases serotonin, however if a certain receptor is blocked it can decrease the amount of serotonin being made. Having low levels of serotonin indicates using drugs like marijuana is a bad idea.

The reason why many use marijuana is for the effect it has on the body and mind. Ultimately, dopamine and serotonin are the most important part of this process. These chemicals are what are released when one uses marijuana and makes a person feel good once they have used it. If people are depressed or anxious this can be uplifting for them or relieve some of the stress they feel in their lives. After using marijuana your euphoric mood rises, but once this initial feeling fades, serotonin and dopamine levels drop to lower than they were before.

Therefore, this is the main attraction of marijuana. Research says that it gives people a sense of relaxation. In everyone’s crazy lives this seems like a reasonable thing to do, however the effect it has on your brain in the end isn’t worth the hour of relaxation or happiness you might feel. The nervousness of using marijuana also comes from how much it has changed over the years. In the 1900s, it was something simple that kids used to mess around. Now, marijuana can be a lot more potent due to all the different strains. The National Institute on Drug abuse says “the potency of marijuana has been on the rise for the last few decades.” Some studies have found that using marijuana that is highly potent can manifest in psychotic symptoms or psychiatric disorders. Precaution is being taken because there is a concern for some of these individuals. Some of the symptoms of these would be disconnect from reality, or developing or worsening a case of depression.

Next comes the question of addiction to marijuana. Technically, marijuana doesn’t have anything in it that is addictive. For example, cigarettes have nicotine and companies have to tell their customers this. Marijuana doesn’t have any liquid or addictive parts to it. The reason why many think it is addictive is because psychologically it makes you think it is good for you. When you use marijuana your brain gives off the chemicals of serotonin and dopamine, and you train yourself to believe marijuana is helping you. People become addicted to the euphoric feelings they have when they use marijuana, not the substance itself.

When addiction to marijuana is mentioned, it normally revolves around tolerance and withdrawal. If you are a constant of marijuana and develop a tolerance for it, you will have to have a higher volume to experience the effects. Then if you decide to stop, you may have withdrawals that can consist or irritability or aggression. The withdrawal symptoms you receive are different based on the amount of the substance you used. For people using marijuana every day, the symptoms could be trouble sleeping, anxiety, boredom, and more.

The real addiction you have to get over is psychologically. Since what you feel is in your head, users who quit will have to deal with anxiety, depression, and mood swings. It can actually be much harder for marijuana users to quit because the psychological craving is stronger than the physical cravings of other drugs. If the brain wants something it will tell you and send signals to you. Being able to block out what you hear and crave is very overwhelming for most. The brain doesn’t pay attention to the negative consequences. That’s why when people use or become addicted to a drug they make different excuses to justify and rationalize their mistakes. This denial can take a huge part in the process. Marijuana use goes deeper than just being addicted. It depends on your brain chemicals, the effect it has on your body, and being able to understand how it psychologically will affect you not only now, but in the long run.

CC BY-SA 4.0 Chemicals Control Us by Isa is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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1 Comment
  1. Mae 7 months ago

    Hello Isa,
    I thought your article was very intriguing to read. I agree that using marijuana is not for everyone, although I do believe using marijuana is acceptable in medical situations- physical or mental. I thought you made a strong point on how the effects of a high dopamine level is “only temporary”. If you want to read more on this subject here is a website I found with very helpful resources tying marijuana and mental health together:
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673607611623
    Thank you for sharing; I look forward to reading more.

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