Why Getting High Makes You Happy
A few solid puffs of weed after a day of work.
Waking and baking with your morning coffee to start your day with a smile.
Sharing a bowl with your friends, then spiraling into a laugh attack together.
These are just some of the many happy moments that stoners and cannabis lovers experience. There’s no denying it: getting high does make you happy. On the surface, recreational users turn to the toke for an instant boost of joy, which many love sharing with their buddies. Then medically speaking, marijuana is used as a serious medication for treating depression and anxiety. It’s happiness in a plant!
So why exactly does it make us so giddy and happy as soon as we feel its effects?
The Psychoactive Effects
It’s tough to put the psychoactive effects of cannabis into words, but we’ll try anyway.
As soon as you feel buzzed, it makes us feel as if we’re entering another realm of consciousness where everything is suddenly better. Time, the world, people, and even color feels different. This altered state tends to make everything feel lighter, and makes it easier to laugh at even the most mundane of things. So much so, that even the simplest thing can make us burst into fits of laughter – when we wouldn’t if we were sober.
Cannabis is such a relaxing plant. It beats alcohol, hard drugs, and even pills when it comes to taking the edge off. No wonder it’s such a popular after-work drug. Instead of happy hours that get you drunk, more and more people are turning to cannabis. Best of all, you don’t get the nasty hangovers the next day. It instantly soothes your worries, releases your stress even if just for a few hours, and overall, makes you feel damn good.
Why Cannabis Is Such A Feel-Good Drug
Apparently, there’s a science to why it makes us feel so good.
Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, the godfather of cannabis, discovered early in his studies of marijuana that a neurotransmitter called anandamide was the reason why it makes smokers so happy. Anandamide takes its name from a Sanskrit word, Ananda, which means “bliss.”
In the human brain, anandamide molecules play important roles in our daily lives, specifically with our emotions, sexual energy, memory, pain, and motivation. Additionally, anandamide is an important endocannabinoid, one of the compounds we produce in the body which bind to cannabinoid receptors when we consume cannabis.
“Anandamide inhibits the release of glutamate and acetylcholine within the cortex and hippocampus, an action that may underlie the ability of marijuana to impair one’s capacity to form new memories when using the drug. The presence of cannabinoid receptors in the parts of the brain that control movement may explain the stumbling behavior that some marijuana users experience. Cannabinoid receptors greatly enhance the release of dopamine; this action plays a critical role in the ability of marijuana to produce euphoria,” writes Dr. Gary Wenk in his book: “Your Brain on Food: How Chemicals Control Your Thoughts And Feelings.”
“Cannabinoid neurons…influence the function of our cortex and various limbic (emotion-controlling) regions; when we stimulate these receptors, we impair higher cognitive functions as we experience euphoria, and when they are blocked, we feel depression,” he writes.
What’s interesting is that THC contains high concentrations of anandamide, so while we produce our own anandamide in the body, it also triggers its release when we smoke and consume cannabis. The same receptors are binded to by cannabis and anandamide, and when it comes in contact with THC, dopamine production is boosted.
Furthermore, anandamide has powerful antidepressant and anti-anxiety properties. Even if you don’t suffer from these mental health disorders, a little cannabis goes a long way in making you happier than you were before you toked.
Studies also show that once THC reaches the brain, it triggers the release of dopamine, another neurotransmitter well-known for its abilities to make you feel good. Dopamine is also known as the reward molecule.
It also works the reward system in the brain, which is triggered when we do other things that our body intrinsically knows is good for survival or give us pleasure, such as having sex, eating, shopping, the smell of food in the kitchen, and much more.
What’s interesting about the dopamine studies is that they warn of too heavy and frequent cannabis use: in other words, use in moderation, to avoid depleting your brain of serotonin. This occurs because when dopamine levels are elevated, the brain’s reward system may be tripped out, causing you to feel extreme satisfaction and pleasure. Now, if they stay up for too long, some of the dopamine receptors may be shut down by the body even if you’re no longer high from the THC. As a result, dopamine synthesis in the human body may be compromised, causing you to have a difficult time experiencing pleasure from other things that normally give you joy such as hobbies, food, and sex.
There’s nothing wrong with suggesting to avoid consuming too much – in fact, it’s fascinating to learn how the body works. If you are prone to depression and anxiety, you should be wary of how much marijuana you consume then; you may be better off with microdoses instead of getting too lit off a bong if you want to sustain the positive impact of cannabis for your happiness.
The properties of cannabis and how they react with the human body are intriguing to learn about because they make you happier and feel euphoric. It’s a natural way to feel upbeat and improve your mood, while helping shut the brain off from replaying embarrassing memories. Just remember to avoid consuming cannabis in excess.