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Video Games and Marijuana Use: Does One Encourage the Other?

With the recent release of the next-gen platforms, PS4 and Xbox One, and with the announcement of new installments of worldwide smash hit franchises like Call of Duty, gaming really is here to stay. Video games are not specific to one age range, and are enjoyed by people of all ages, but teenagers and young adults are one of the key demographics. And, naturally, there is a subset of that group who also enjoy the recreational use of drugs such as cannabis – and it’s not unusual to find groups enjoying both marijuana and video games at the same time. This may beg the question, then: does one encourage the other? Let’s find out.

The effect of marijuana on experience

The active ingredient in marijuana, which is a chemical called THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), acts on the brain in a way that stimulates the cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2. The THC provides interacts with these receptors, causing the ‘high’ feeling that many people report when using the drug. Additionally, THC triggers the release of dopamine, which is the neurotransmitter responsible for the reward system in the brain. What this means is that external stimuli will generally feel more enjoyable and rewarding when under the influence of THC. Additionally, these changes in brain activity and neurotransmitter response will also augment the experience of sound and vision – making colors subjectively brighter and more vivid, and sound more expansive. It’s easy to see, then, why video games are so widely used by people under the influence of marijuana. The same can also be said for music and film.

Two addictions in one?

While many people will be able to use both marijuana and video games in moderation, if either of these become compulsive behaviors, addiction can become a problem. Video game addiction is a very real phenomenon, and while marijuana is not physically addictive like other drugs, it is psychologically addictive and users can feel a mental need for the drug which can cause irritability and other withdrawal-like symptoms. Finding help for compulsive cannabis use is relatively easy, provided the person looking for assistance has the right mind-set. Likewise, video game addiction (which is somewhat different in nature) can be dealt with through the use of techniques such as CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and also replacing the behaviors with more constructive ones. With the statistics for drug use going up just as quickly as the number of people playing video games, the problem of these two addictions being combined may become more prevalent in years to come.

It’s all about moderation

In this discussion, we’re really only referring to people who feel a compulsion to play video games and use marijuana – mainly at the same time, in an effort to augment one with the other. When comorbid addictions such as this occur, it can be more difficult to treat because doing one will encourage the other (mainly due to psychological associations). That’s why if you feel like you’re perhaps doing one, the other, or both a little too much, you must try to restore moderation to your lifestyle. Lots of pleasurable things can be enjoyable now and then, but if it becomes your sole focus, you could be in trouble. Remember: everything in moderation. With this mantra, you can avoid addiction to marijuana, video games, or any of life’s other great pleasures.





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