Hey, faithful followers! Today friends, we are going to discuss how we get high via the science of marijuana. No, not how to GET high, we already KNOW how to do that! LOL
You will be happy to know I am in my NEW apartment! Moved in Saturday with a big help from my fantastic family! Blogging today and Friday from the Millard Oakley Library!
The Science of Marijuana
We’re talking the SCIENCE behind getting high. How Marijuana affects the brain. And the way it does that is: THC enters the brain and causes the user to get euphoric. (That means high, folks) It acts on the brain’s “reward” system. The “reward” system is made up of regions that govern good things, pleasurable things, like sex (NOW I’ve got your attention) and chocolate (Yummers!) THC activates the “reward” system to release the brain chemical, dopamine.
Also associated with dopamine is relaxation. Other effects reported (which may vary dramatically among users) include seeing brighter colors, laughter, morphed time, and the munchies. When the euphoria subsides, the user may feel tired or even depressed. Sometimes; there are feelings of anxiety, fear, distrust, or panic. (Oh, MY!!)
Smoking Marijuana can mess with a user’s ability to form new memories or to shift focus. THC can also screw with coordination and balance. This is because it binds to the receptors in the brain, mainly the cerebellum and the basal ganglia. Those are the parts of the brain that regulate balance, posture, coordination, and reaction time. What this means is learning, complicated tasks, doing athletics, and driving are affected.
Some HEAVY users have experienced some psychosis (including hallucinations), delusions, and “loss of sense of personal identity”. (This sounded both scary and cool to me.) Short term psychotic reactions to high concentrations of THC are distinctly different from the longer lasting, schizophrenia like disorders that have been associated with use of Marijuana in vulnerable individuals. (http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-abuse/there-link-between-marijuana-use-mental-illness)
Actually, the understanding of long term brain effects caused by Marijuana smoking are limited. Research on how chronic Marijuana use affects the brain STRUCTURE have been inconclusive. Maybe the effects are too subtle for reliable detection by current methodology. There is a similar problem with studies on the brain’s FUNCTION. MRIs of brains of chonic users do show consistant alterations but relation to cognitive functioning is not real clear. This uncertainty may be caused by confounding factors such as other drug use, residual effects (sometimes occurring for up to 24 hours in chronic users), or withdrawl symptoms in long term chronic users.
Most of the studies, however, come from animal studies. Rat exposed to THC in utero, soon after birth, or during adolescence have NOTABLE problems with learning/memory tasks later in life. But cogitive impairment in ADULT rats “is associated with structural and functional changes in the hippocampus from THC exposure during adolescence.”
When people age, they lose neurons in the hippocampus. That decreases their ability to learn new information. Chronic exposure can quicken age related loss of hippocampal neurons. In one study, rats exposed to THC everyday for 1/3 of their lives (in this case, 8 months) showed a level of nerve cell loss that equaled that of unexposed rats twice their age.
The question is: can individuals who quit Marijuana, after heavy long term use, recover any of their cognitive abilities? There have been reports that the ability of long term heavy users to recall words from a list was STILL impaired one week after they quit using. BUT it returned to normal after a month. Another study showed effects can build up and deteriorate vital life skills over time. These effects can be made worse in those people with other mental disorders, or simply through the normal aging process.
So there you have it, friends. The whole nitty gritty on the science of marijuana. The good, the bad, and the ugly. But, hey, let’s face it, you may step off of a curb and get hit by a bus too. So I am not going to let a few conflicting studies spoil my path to peaceful enjoyment, know what I mean? Peace out…