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Is Marijuana a Psychoactive Drug?

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Is Marijuana a Psychoactive Drug?

Written by Genesis Recovery

The marijuana plant has a complicated history. The rift between federal and state law continues to widen as an increasing number of states legalize its use medicinally, recreationally, or both. Like many psychoactive substances, it has been sought out for its psychoactive effects; its ability to change the way a person feels.

The term psychoactive simply means that a substance affects the mind, brain, and nervous system. The scientific term for marijuana is cannabis, which encompasses its variety of forms and compounds (APA, 2013).

It is without question that cannabis is a psychoactive substance. The prominent question in modern American politics is in regards to its legalization and medicinal use.

A question that frequently arises in treatment settings is the issue of marijuana maintenance or using CBD products while abstaining from all other substances. When people are questioning committing to complete abstinence this is frequently presented as a substance people would like to continue using for its psychoactive effects.

It is important to engage openly and honestly with treatment providers about substance use and intentions regarding abstinence so they are better able to provide support. There are a variety of reasons that people desire to continue cannabis use. Understanding these reasons and discussing them openly can illuminate a path to sobriety.

Marijuana has historically been classified as a psychedelic, yet its psychoactive effects and typical patterns of use are markedly different from substances such as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and psilocybin (shrooms). One significant difference is the level of predictability of the person’s subjective experience.

The psychoactive ingredient in cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The effects of cannabis in the brain and the central nervous system are predominantly linked to the actions on CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors. While the cannabinoid receptors are activated, glutamate is suppressed which creates a sedating effect and can decrease aggression.

In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5th edition (DSM5) the symptoms of marijuana intoxication are listed as follows:

1. Behavioral and psychological changes

  • Impaired motor coordination
  • Euphoria
  • Anxiety
  • Sensation of slowed time
  • Impaired judgment
  • Social withdrawal

2. Conjunctival injection (red eyes)

3. Increased appetite

4. Dry mouth

5. Tachycardia

The DSM 5 also lists the symptoms of withdrawal from cannabis as:

1. Irritability, anger, or aggression

2. Nervousness or anxiety

3. Sleep difficulty

4. Decreased appetite or weight loss

5. Restlessness

6. Depressed mood

7. Physical symptoms

  • abdominal pain
  • Shakiness
  • Sweating
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache

If you or a loved one is struggling with unmanageable substance use that interferes with work, relationships, finances, and self-care reach out to Genesis Recovery for help today.

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