The answer is “absolutely yes”! People who consume marijuana rather frequently, or as we call them “daily marijuana users,” can become addicted to marijuana. Scientists claim that it happens because long-term cannabis consumption disrupts specific brain circuits, which leads to cravings and addiction. They have also found that when a regular weed consumer looks at the photos of cannabis, part of their brain associated with the reward immediately lights up. Such brain reaction shows the difference between addicted people and those who have never smoked weed.
Why does marijuana affect the brain?
As you know, medical marijuana is currently legalized in 25 states of America. Cannabis is the illegal drug with the rate of consumption exceeding almost 22.2 million people. That is the number of those who have confessed in smoking it in the recent months. Additionally, pot is the most commonly used forbidden drug in the UK, with 6.7% of adult people aged 16 to 60 having used it in their lives (time of consumption—2014-2015). Despite the constant increase of marijuana’s popularity, Dr. Francesca Fibley from the University of Texas, Dallas, says that it is still difficult to say how exactly marijuana might lead to drug addiction due to the blindness of current research. However, the existing studies suggest that marijuana has some kind of impact on the brain circuits, also known as the mesocortcolimbic reward system, which causes the addiction.
This system is responsible for controlling different parts of the brain that release dopamine, the important chemical that mediates pleasure. This is the chemical that makes people seek for the activity that once made them feel so good. To investigate this system more deeply, the scientists examined 59 adults who used marijuana and 70 who did not. The people were shown different pictures related to marijuana, like pipes, joints, buds, and other images, and then simple fruits, like bananas, oranges, etc. After being showed each picture, people had to rate their willing to smoke weed. The results were predictable—the marijuana-related images made the brain circuit lit up in the participants that used marijuana.