Study Shows Why People Become Addicted To Cannabis


Medical marijuana has been legalized in most states for its recreational as well as medical use. However, some people may get addicted to the drug while others don’t. Why do people who abuse the drug do so? A new study dives into the mechanisms of what changes in the brain cause dependency on the drug.

What Did This New Study Reveal?

A new study, which has been published in the Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging journal, says that users who are addicted to cannabis and those who aren’t can be differentiated based on the way activity shifts from reward-driven use in the brain to habit-driven use. This research explains how the brain starts relying on cannabis.

It also elaborates why some cannabis users get addicted while others don’t despite long-term, regular use. The study was conducted by scientists from the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China along with the University of Bonn, Germany.

Researchers used brain imaging for monitoring neural activity when marijuana users viewed drug cues, that is, cannabis images. Though most of the cannabis users who participated in this study reported heavy usage, few of them were dependent on cannabis. Compared to those people who didn’t use cannabis, both users and who were dependent and those who weren’t showed activity in the reward center of the brain which is the ventral striatum.

However, dependent cannabis users also showed to have had more response in the region of the brain responsible for habit formation which is the dorsal striatum. This shows that people get addicted to cannabis due to changes in the reward system as well as changes in the habitual use region of the brain which explains why those who are addicted continue the use of the drug even after it doesn’t affect the reward centers of the brain.

It was also found that cannabis use among dependent users also increased response in other brain regions such as the center that attributes importance to things. This explains why druggies respond to cues and why they desire to seek cannabis.

Editor of the journal, Cameron Carter, MD, said, “These findings are important insights that can help us better understand why some individuals might be more likely to become addicted to cannabis.” This study that has found which centers of the brain are triggered in dependent users may also be helpful in understanding how the issue of marijuana addiction can be combated.

Key Takeaway

Cannabis has the potential to be an addictive herb due to the THC that is present in it. A new study shows how the drug effects the brain which develops dependency on it. Basically, when the reward and habitual use centers of the brain are sparked, dependency on the drug is exhibited.

This research can help understand drug addiction as well as be useful in finding a means to combat it. It is this abuse of the drug that forms part of the reason behind why the Food and Drug Administration is skeptical about allowing it use.


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