Drug of Addiction

Drug of Addiction - Marijuana: Drug of Abuse or Treatment 1...

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Marijuana: Drug of Abuse or Treatment Marijuana: Drug of Abuse or Treatment Jeremy Hock CJ 466 Drugs of Abuse Spring 2007 1
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Marijuana: Drug of Abuse or Treatment When one thinks of drugs of abuse marijuana is probably one of the first that comes to mind. It is also one of the most controversial drugs of abuse due to its wide range of uses. Although it is considered an illegal substance within the United States, it has been used in the field of medicine to treat certain disorders. The purpose of this paper is to distinguish between those two differences and give information supporting both sides of this controversial drug. Marijuana has several street names. These include “pot”, “grass”, “reefer”, “weed”, “herb”, “Mary Jane”, or “mj”. Since it comes from Cannabis sativa , better known as the hemp plant it is easily processed and rolled into cigarettes called “joints” making smoking of the drug the most popular form of abuse. Other less popular ways of use are to mix it with other drugs or it can be added to drinks, such as tea, or to food. It is the most abused drug in this country and its incidence of abuse is growing rapidly in middle school and high school students. The average user of marijuana is that of the young adult age group. According to recent studies, over 94 million Americans have admitted to having tried marijuana at least once (Volkow 2005). (See figure 2 SAHMSA 2003). The active chemical in marijuana that affects the brain is delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly known as THC (see figure 1 Snyder 1997). As the drug is being inhaled through smoke it is transferred to the lungs where it enters the blood stream. From here it travels to the brain and, due to its lipid solubility, easily passes the blood brain barrier and enters cephalic circulation. The blood brain barrier is the defense mechanism that regulates the transport of materials in and out of the brain. Once it enters it binds to receptors called cannabinoid receptors located on neurons. These cells then 2
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Marijuana: Drug of Abuse or Treatment promote the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine. “Dopamine affects brain processes that control movement, emotional response, and ability to experience pleasure and pain” (Erickson nd). Marijuana binds to dopamine receptors causing increased blood levels of the neurotransmitter promoting “prolonged feelings of pleasure and excitement” (Erickson nd). Marijuana can either be administered by inhaling or by ingestion. When it is
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Drug of Addiction - Marijuana: Drug of Abuse or Treatment 1...

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