Can You Be Addicted To Marijuana?
This question is a continuous debate, which researcher Dr. Francesca Filbey is attempting to study. Dr. Filbey is the director of addiction research at the Center for Brain Health at University of Texas in Dallas. Recently she has received 2 million dollars to conduct a study about marijuana addiction over the next 5 years. Dr. Fibley agrees that it is a combination of nature and nurture for the development of marijuana dependence; however, she also proposes that chronic users develop a physical dependence. This study will use 100 chronic marijuana smokers and 100 non-users to compare and contrast findings within the brain’s reward system. One of Filbey’s hypotheses is that with chronic marijuana users there may be other stressors such as childhood abuse or serious tragedy which make people more prone to becoming addicts. During this study she will ask the pot smokers to abstain for a period of 3 days. After that time period has passed, she will show photos that they previously indicated associations with smoking pot and she will measure blood flow in the brain to track their pleasure response. Being able to confirm that there are addictive qualities, both physical and psychological, with marijuana use may help with finding drug treatment that works. Marijuana dependence is not seen as a “serious” addiction, like heroin or tobacco, however it is more widespread amongst adolescents whose brains have not fully developed. The influence of chronic marijuana use on a developing brain could mean a life long struggle with addiction issues. Lastly, Fibley states, “The ultimate goal is to characterize predictors of drug dependence in the brain that could lead to better prevention, intervention and treatment for drug addiction.”