Drug Rehab in Columbus Treats Marijuana Related Depression
Contrary to popular stereotypes, pot smokers are not always the happy-go-lucky types everyone seems to think they are. According to a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, marijuana reduces the brain’s reaction to dopamine.
Led by Nora Volkow, a team from the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse studied the brains of 24 marijuana abusers and how they reacted to methylphenidate. Methylphenidate is also known by its brand name Ritalin. This drug is a stimulant used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy and elevates dopamine.
The study consisted of a control group and a group of marijuana abusers that smoked five joints a day, five days a week for a decade on average. Using personality tests and brain imaging, the team was able to monitor how these pot smokers reacted to the Ritalin.
The researchers found that each group produced just as much extra dopamine after taking the stimulant. The marijuana abusers had significantly reduced behavioral, cardiovascular, and brain responses to the Ritalin compared with the control group.
The study also found that the marijuana abusers’s heart rate and blood pressure were lower than that of the control groups. The smokers also reported feelings of restlessness and anxiety.
Not only did the the researcher team conclude that marijuana diminishes the brain's dopamine reaction to stimulants, but they also found that the drug influences the area of the brain involved in reward processing. A weaker physical response to the same dopamine amounts implies that these reward systems in their brains are damaged.
Raul Gonzalez, a neuropsychologist from Florida International University in Miami, was not involved with the research but says that the disconnect could be “a key mechanism underlying cannabis addiction." The study “suggests that cannabis users may experience less reward from things others generally find pleasurable and, contrary to popular stereotypes, that they generally feel more irritable, stressed, and just plain crummy. This may contribute to ongoing and escalating cannabis use among such individuals."
One question still remains - do marijuana abusers smoke a lot because they feel crappy, or do they feel bad because they smoke a lot? Volkow doesn’t know the answer because she states that cause and effect “is a limitation in a study like this one.” We cannot be sure but it is possible that some of the smokers already had less reactive dopamine systems before they began abusing. They might have started smoking lots of pot to cope with their general unhappiness. Regardless, prolonged marijuana abuse can disrupt the brain's reward circuitry, which can lead to depression.
If you are a substance abuser and need alcohol or drug rehab in Columbus, OH please call Legacy Freedom and get help today!