Dope and Dopamine

Dope and Dopamine

What do Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington D.C., and Washington state have in common? They’ve legalized recreational marijuana use for adults. And a total of 24 states allow medical marijuana in various ways: In New York you cannot smoke it, although you can inhale a vapor, eat it, use a tincture, or take pills! More than 12 states have decriminalized possession.

No wonder marijuana use more than doubled from 2001 to 2013. Unfortunately, according to a study in JAMA Psychiatry, in 2012-2013 nearly 30 percent of users had marijuana use disorder, otherwise known as MUD. That’s a huge percentage. Symptoms include problems with normal functioning, cravings and withdrawal symptoms, such as inability to sleep, restlessness, nervousness, anger, or depression within a week of ceasing heavy use. This MUD treatment also makes you older.

There are also neurocognitive and psychiatric repercussions of MUD, especially in young people and young adults. When researchers at Columbia University Medical Center looked at the brains of folks who started smoking cannabis at 16, became dependent by 20, and have been dependent for the past seven years, they found that compared to non-smokers they had lower dopamine release in brain areas that affect learning and working memory tasks. The depression associated with withdrawal is also a likely result of alterations in dopamine availability. So don’t get stuck in the MUD; if you or someone you love needs help with marijuana dependence, go to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov to get started creating a healthier, happier future. 

Medically reviewed in January 2019.

More On Substance Abuse and Addiction

CDC: Drug and Firearm Deaths Up, Heart Disease and Cancer Deaths Down

article

CDC: Drug and Firearm Deaths Up, Heart Disease and Cancer Deaths Down
In a new report on American mortality rates, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that, while heart disease and cancer deaths...
Pregnancy and Opioid Addiction

article

Pregnancy and Opioid Addiction
Alicia Keyes craved root beer floats while pregnant with her second child, Genesis; Victoria Beckham was marmalade-crazed while carrying daughter Harp...
Pain, The Opioid Epidemic and How Health Care Has to Improve

article

Pain, The Opioid Epidemic and How Health Care Has to Improve
Opioid addiction is a national epidemic—and so is chronic pain. Could there be a relationship? 1.  In 2015, 2 million Americans had a substance use d...
How Important Is Family in Drug Addiction Recovery?

video

How Important Is Family in Drug Addiction Recovery?
Addiction is a complex disease on many levels; the family dynamic is disrupted, and loved ones besides the addict are impacted. Watch addiction specia...