Why Do Side Effects Get Worse Over Time?
Any drug that is metabolized by the body has something known as a metabolizing rate or half-life. A half-life is the rate of time between when a drug is consumed and when it is metabolized by 50%. If you take the drug in at less than that rate, the drug eventually leaves your system. If you take it in faster or at the same rate as metabolization, the drug remains in your system.
However, cannabis metabolizes at a different rate depending on the strain, how you use it and your body. In most cases cannabis affects the body for about 7 hours, but can stay in the system for days after use.
How Is It Addictive?
Cannabidiols bind to receptors in the body, taking the place of neurotransmitters, and changing the chemistry of the brain. Over time, the body adapts and adjusts, and more cannabidiols build up along the spine and around the central nervous system. Quite simply, this leads to Marijuana addiction.
While cannabis doesn’t typically cause the painful flu-like withdrawal symptoms of opiates it can cause withdrawal symptoms. For most users, these symptoms are almost purely psychological, as the brain adapts to reduced dopamine stimulation. As a result, long-term users who quit will experience irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, insomnia, and likely weight loss.
Very heavy users may experience physical withdrawal symptoms mimicking a cold or flu. Stomach pain, sweats, shakes, fever, chills, and headaches are all possible marijuana withdrawal symptoms.
Does Marijuana Cause Long-Term Damage?
Unfortunately, there have been very few long-term clinical studies of marijuana or its effects on the brain. Most data showing that marijuana affects the brain over time comes from a single study conducted at the Northwestern University and Harvard Medical School, where MRI scans were conducted on moderate and heavy users. The scans were only completed once, but it was shown that there were significant changes to the brain in heavy users versus moderate users but that both caused abnormalities or changes in the brain. Other studies suggest that very heavy use over very prolonged use may slightly decrease the volume of the hippocampus, but this is contested in scientific circles.
However, by definition, a psychoactive substance like cannabis changes the brain. Studies show that it takes 28 days after final use for memory to return to non-user’s level. But, recovery is likely dependent on a variety of factors such as volume and length of use, age, and health.
While cannabis is less harmful and less addictive than many other drugs, it can still be very harmful. If you or someone you know is dependent on the drug, seeking out treatment will help. Modern addiction treatment includes a wide range of therapy and skills building, alongside medical assistance to help recovering addicts develop a foundation to live a happy life without substance abuse.
Beginnings Treatment Centers drug rehab program is located in beautiful and sunny Southern California in Orange County, which has one of the strongest and most active recovery communities in the United States. If you or your loved one is struggling with addiction, contact us today and speak with one of our experienced and professional intake advisors, we’re here to help.