Psychological Effects of Marijuana
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...