Did you know the concern is growing that increasing use of marijuana extracts with extremely high amounts of THC could lead to higher rates of addiction among marijuana users? Well, I didn’t…
And here I am writing now about the final stages of this addiction cycle which started with reward – remember the enhanced sensory perception and euphoria that made us all feel so happy – and to our dismay was followed by symptoms of withdrawal like stress, anxiety and other negative emotions.
Well, it gets a mite worse in this final stage of preoccupation, when deficits in prefrontal cortical (PFC) signalling lead to impaired decision-making, cravings, and cannabis seeking behaviours.
The 2 components of PFC signalling are Go system (Decision-making, Impulse control, Regulation of actions and emotions, Goal-seeking behaviours) and Stop system (Inhibits/opposes the Go system, Controls stress and emotional responses, Prevents relapse)
In this third stage, there is greater activity in the Go system which increases the likelihood of cannabis use. There is also lesser activity in the Stop system, which activates stress circuits, and increases chances of relapse.
Addiction involving this three-stage cycle of intoxication, withdrawal and anticipation worsens over time and involves dramatic changes in the brain reward, stress, and executive function systems.
The power of the addictive cannabis to produce positive feelings and relieve negative feelings fuels the development of the compulsive use of the cannabis.
The combination of increased cannabis consumption and reward associated stimuli, triggers and cues, the decreased reward sensitivity, increased stress sensitivity and compromised executive function provides an often overwhelming drive for marijuana/hashish seeking that can be unrelenting. Have you ever met a pothead who can keep tirelessly rolling?
“There is a place. Like no place on Earth. A land full of Wonder, Mystery, & Danger! Some say to survive it, You need to be as Mad as a Hatter. Which luckily I am.” Relax, I haven’t yet fallen down the rabbit hole, but I do seem to be peering down one a lot.
Another favourite quote from the delightful “Alice in Wonderland” is “She generally gave herself VERY GOOD ADVICE though she very seldom followed it.” Did you know that Lewis Carroll was an Aquarian? Just like me