Psychological Effects of Marijuana1 Essay

This essay has a total of 1522 words and 7 pages.

Psychological Effects of Marijuana1

Marijuana tends to be disassociated with the conventional spectrum of drugs in
today’s society. Certainly we can agree that cocaine, ecstasy, and heroine are
drugs and thus highly addictive and dangerous. But can marijuana be mentioned in the same
breath as these drugs? It is not my point nor belief to disagree that marijuana is a drug
that can be addictive. I place strong emphasis however on the fact that physical
dependency is not nearly as common as psychological dependency among marijuana users.

As I attempt to present the psychological effects of marijuana, we must first consider the
concept of being psychologically dependant. When you are dependant upon something, you
are not necessarily unable to do without it. Rather, you begin to rely on it. That is not
to say that dependency is not addiction because I do believe dependency is a form of
addiction. However, marijuana does not cause the same physical withdrawal symptoms as
with drugs that are considered addictive. Drugs, such as crack and heroine require
extreme measures to break the body’s dependency or addiction. This is the
conventional understanding of what constitutes an addiction to a drug. Given the
information that marijuana use lacks the ability for the body to develop a physical
addiction in the vast majority of individuals, the concept of psychological addiction
(dependency) becomes clearer.

Anything psychological is understood to relate specifically to the mind and thinking. But
this doesn’t necessarily mean that psychological dependency is a set of thought
processes or is even thought about at all. In fact I feel that this dependency is mostly
subconscious and not a set of thought processes. “Marijuana, then, produces a
psychic dependency in the user which impels him to the continued and frequent use of that
specific drug – a dependency that is similar in important respects to actual
physical addiction” (Goode, 1970, p.105).

It is important to understand why someone uses marijuana and why he or she would use it in
the first place. “Millions of Americans have tried marijuana, but most are not
regular users. In 1996, 68.6 million people—32%of the U.S. population over 12
years—had tried marijuana or hashish at least once in their lifetime, but only 5%
were current users” (Unknown, Nov. 18, p. 6). There are several reasons why an
individual would begin using marijuana and in some cases develop a dependency. One of the
reasons why a user would develop a dependency is due to peer pressure “Nearly all
human activities at least indirectly involve other people, and being introduced to
marijuana offers no exception to this rule; in fact, marijuana use in general is
exquisitely a group phenomenon” (Unknown, Nov.18). Could it be that the transition
from non user to user is a result of the comfort in belonging to a group? Or is it more
peer pressure than anything else? I feel that the decision to try it for the first time
is directly affected by the way you feel about your peers and your connotations of the
drug itself. If your circle of marijuana users are people that you respect and think
highly of, then you’re a lot more likely to try it than if you looked down upon
everyone you know who tried it or uses it. Once the marijuana is used for the first time
a sense of openness to the drug is developed. The user then fails to realize any
consequence in using it in moderation. The next thing happening is that user begins to
substitute normally enjoyable occasions such as parties, as a reason to smoke and enhance
the pleasure. Now the want for that enhancement becomes not so moderate.

Pleasure might be the most obvious and common factor that creates a dependency on the drug
for a user. Everyone is in search of pleasure and enjoyment. This is not to say that no
one is ever happy and only the use of a drug will do it. The point is that using
marijuana becomes an alternate pleasure and it is this alternative to the everyday concept
of pleasure that builds a dependency. You begin to depend on it when you have a problem.
You use it to escape the worries of reality. Marijuana becomes that quick solution to the
problem that everyone craves for. We do not want to worry about the long term, we want a
quick fix and it is this that creates dependency.

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