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Psychological Benefits Of Marijuana Usage

Marijuana is the most popular among illicit drugs in the world. Part of the reason that it is extremely popular has to do with the fact that people like what the drug does for them. In my opinion, it is among the safest and least addicting of illicit substances. I have never used it, but have done some fairly extensive research surrounding the drug. I am neither an advocate for or against its legalization – what’s meant to happen will happen.

I have already written about the long term psychological effects of marijuana use in a different article. Based on what I know, this substance can caused increased risk of developing schizophrenia, and chronic use is associated with an overall lower quality of life compared to non-users. Anyways, below I’ve compiled a list of psychological benefits of marijuana use.

Psychological Benefits of Marijuana Usage

1. Neuropathic Pain Reduction

Even at low doses, vaporized marijuana has been proven to be effective at helping those who are experiencing neuropathic pain. Perhaps the most common use for marijuana these days is to help with chronic pain management. Chronic pain is a leading cause of reduced quality of life and those with it are trying to cope but sometimes can barely make it through the day.

There is only so much a person can do before they need to start looking at medicinal approaches to treat their severe lasting pain. Based on studies, marijuana seems to really help people out that have high amounts of chronic pain. Although the pros and cons need to be weighed before utilizing it as a treatment option, it does appear to get the job done for many that have tried.

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23237736

It is hypothesized that pain relief from ingesting marijuana is a result of the affect it has on frontal limbic cannabinoid receptors – as well as reductions in activity in the anterior mid cingulate cortex as well as altered activity in the amygdale and primary sensorimotor regions. Researchers think that cannabis may target the “affective” qualities of the pain more than anything. In other words, individuals who use marijuana may find that it reduces the unpleasantness as a result of the pain, but not necessarily the intensity of the pain.

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22629287
Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23273106

2. Antidepressant (Mood Boost)

The long term effects of marijuana as an antidepressant remain unknown. In many cases it is not advisable to use marijuana to help treat depression because it can increase risk of developing more severe conditions like schizophrenia. When smoked, marijuana causes the brain to release dopamine and anandamide – producing a relaxing affect. Many individuals use this substance to self treat their depression and find temporary relief.

As with any drug, using it one time is likely going to have an antidepressant affect. However, repeated use or chronic use is actually linked to having a lower quality of life and lower levels of life satisfaction than non users. There needs to be more research done in this area, but most users find that it does help improve their overall mood and depression. I tend to think of marijuana as a mood enhancer. With a relatively low side effect profile compared to other drugs – even antidepressants – further research is warranted in this area.

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9160645

3. Reduced Hostility

Although there aren’t really treatments for hostility and anger, there is a market for individuals with high amounts of irritability. Typically these people are treated with antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, or even certain medications used to reduce blood pressure. In certain studies, marijuana was found to reduce hostility in people exposed to a “frustration stimulus.”

It is known that cannabis improves one’s mood as a result of its affect on the brain. It is also able to reduce verbal and internal hostility towards others. This is likely a result of the fact that it makes people relax. If you are relaxed and in a good mood as a result of marijuana, it’s unlikely that you’re going to be angry or irritable.

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/961922

4. Insomnia Reduction

Marijuana can promote drowsiness and help individuals that are struggling with chronic insomnia. Insomnia is closely related to stress, anger, tension, and not being able to relax. Usually individuals with insomnias brains are stuck in overdrive – rapid thinking and they think so much and have so much tension in their bodies that they cannot sleep.

Fortunately marijuana helps promote physical and mental relaxation – which can lead to drowsiness near bed time and helps people sleep. A couple of people I know on a first hand basis need to smoke marijuana or they cannot sleep. I promote exercise and hard work and relaxation techniques as opposed to drug use, but if you really don’t want to push yourself or have an excuse to not exercise or learn to relax on your own, marijuana can help with insomnia.

5. Reduced Anxiety

In states where marijuana is legalized, some people claim that it works wonders for their anxiety issues. Although I have never used it for my generalized anxiety, some people claim it’s the best. There are many arguments that cannabis is safer than many common anti anxiety and anti depressant drugs. Take a drug like Xanax for example to treat anxiety. Long term use of Xanax has been linked to developments of dementia; this is a significant finding.

Some individuals have anxiety so limiting that they cannot socialize, form friendships, and engage in society. If nothing seems to help, why not at least consider marijuana in states that it is legalized. Think of all the medications out there to treat anxiety – not all of them work the same way and everyone experiences something different. One medication may help someone, while increase anxiety in another person. Marijuana on the other hand is pretty much universal in the fact that it does decrease anxiety and promote relaxation.

6. Relaxation

Some people don’t know how to cope with stress as a result of PTSD, anxiety, death of a loved one, and they turn to substances like marijuana. Some studies demonstrate that marijuana does in fact help people cope with stressors. Due to the risks, it may not be the best long term strategy, but it clearly does help people relax. There are disputes as to whether people should medicate with alcohol vs. marijuana and which is better or healthier for stress.

They are both different and will result in different changes in the nervous system. Once again the dopamine and anandamide helps a person feel good and relax – both physically and mentally.

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22736575

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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Alex March 8, 2014, 10:58 pm

    Actually there are plenty of Cannabis strains that can drive up anxiety, especially Sativa dominant strains. The indica dominant strains are supposed to do the opposite. My personal experience is the opposite to this, with indicas anxious and sativas stimulating and cerebral, however my experience is not the norm.
    Anxiety is actually one of the most common reasons people don’t like cannabis, you can feel paranoid, and very socially awkward.
    I just don’t smoke it socially, and practise non-paranoid thoughts, and I’m fine.

  • james April 18, 2014, 5:35 am

    from heavy first-hand experience: 6/10 movies become 9/10 movies because the “bad” parts become “funny”. you can’t learn anything complicated without getting frustrated. your reaction time is about half as fast (30 ms –> 60ms). you have more random thoughts. if you avoid smoking (tar in the bloodstream), i actually think it’s great practice for the brain– having an obstacle to overcome. all sensory input is amplified (food, movies, music, art). you should try it. you should also try spiritual drugs like LSD and shrooms with nature (beach or hike through the forest). your biggest enemy is other people judging you

  • Tim April 20, 2015, 1:46 am

    Hi, I’d like to share with you that I was finally able to quit smoking tobacco products due to my smoking of marijuana. It hugely reduced my withdrawal symptoms (both physical and psychological) caused from stopping my smoking of cigarettes. Point is, marijuana can potentially help others kick nicotine from their lives!

  • Bill May 5, 2015, 2:20 pm

    “Based on what I know, this substance can caused increased risk of developing schizophrenia, and chronic use is associated with an overall lower quality of life compared to non-users.”

    I’ve been using it daily, on average, since 2011. Still not crazy. My quality of life is greatly improved, due to pain reduction, elimination of PTSD nightmares, reduced anxiety, GREATLY reduced startle reflex (which was severe), improved mobility, and decreased social anxiety and awkwardness which has plagued me all my life.

    My IQ tested at genius level before and I’m still just that smart, even if I now find I’m more arrogant than I previously thought I was. The point here is that a lot of the research regarding schizophrenia is skewed because of the self-treatment effect so common amongst those of us suffering from mental disorders. My friend, sometimes the numbers DO lie.

  • Jones Johnson June 8, 2015, 7:08 pm

    This was a helpful article. I have been using marijuana for thirteen years. My diagnosis is bipolar disorder and I take the meds they prescribe for me. But I don’t know what it is…marijuana has always alleviated my depression immediately. Actually my only issue with marijuana is the cost. It’s too high for people with mental illnesses who are on a fixed income to afford it AND buy groceries.

    The thing is…it’s not recognized as medicine yet. Soon I hope. I have terrible depression. If you have mental health issues, you know what I’m talking about. And for me…the answer has always been weed over speed, and definitely over alcohol. But I have to take my mood stabilizers too so that I don’t go off my trolley. I really hope that in my lifetime marijuana gets respect as a soothing agent for the mentally ill.

    That it becomes a recognized medicine and that insurance will pay for the prescription. For me, personally…I smoke a half ounce of weed every month. The cost is too high for my income. But I still need the weed. Anyway, this was a great article and I’m glad I got a chance to share, myself.

    • Linda January 19, 2016, 5:44 pm

      In states that have legalized it the cost is actually lower and if you have a medical prescription the cost is ridiculously low. I would like to move to Oregon and maybe you should think about it too. I am mentally ill as well, borderline personality, depression, ptsd, anxiety. I am on disability and I am marrying someone on disability. As singles we qualify for medicaid in Idaho but after we are married we do not.

      In Oregon we would still qualify for medicaid and the quality of medical services are better though the cost of living is considerably higher. I have thought of the illegality of it and feel bad about it but my fiance thinks of it as medicine. He has chronic headaches after having a brain bleed 7 yrs ago and the only thing that helps is hydrocodone and pot and the docs took him off the narcs so he is having a bad time and the weed does help.

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