Addiction is a major concern among all nations due to the negative effects it has on health, social order, and productivity. While a lot of the attention lately has been on the misuse of legal drugs, such as opioid prescription painkillers, states have been making an illegal drug available for a variety of medical uses and now many are making it legal for recreational use as well.
Marijuana is one of the most commonly used addictive drugs around the world.
Marijuana is a naturally occurring plant that has been used for medical, spiritual, and recreational uses for thousands of years before it was largely banned in the early 20th century.
There are two main types: cannabis sativa and cannabis indica. Almost all parts of the plant are considered “beneficial” and used. The flowers, leaves, stems, and seeds are dried before they are smoked. Its other uses include vaporizing, as a tea, an oil, and baked goods.
Medical marijuana refers to the use of the fresh plant in treating symptoms of some illnesses. It has been legalized in some manner by 33 states and the District of Columbia. That’s a big leap since the Golden State passed similar legislation in 1996. As of June 2019, 11 states have also legalized recreational use, though they haven’t all gone into effect yet.
The federal government hasn’t followed suit, however. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the US Food and Drug Administration has not recognized cannabis as medicine yet and has only approved two medications that contain any cannabinoids.
Before it will more widely legalize the plant or its components, the FDA needs more clinical trials and concrete results that prove marijuana’s medical value and that they outweigh the risks. Such research is now being conducted more vigorously.
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Marijuana Effects and Abuse
While marijuana is being touted for the treatment of certain diseases and symptoms, it has different effects on different people. Some chronic users develop an addiction, psychological and maybe physical, because of its mind-altering effects. Those effects are felt instantly when you smoke it because it goes directly into the bloodstream and the brain. It takes 30 minutes to an hour when consumed in food or drink since it first has to pass through your digestive system.
How long the effects of weed last also depends on how you intake it. Smoked marijuana generally affects you for up to two hours, while eaten cannabis lasts up to four hours.
One of the main cannabinoids in marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which makes you feel relaxed and experience euphoria. Some experience improved sensory perception and increased appetite. Another cannabinoid, cannabidiol, causes no euphoria but is believed to have health benefits.
Signs of Marijuana Abuse
- Red or bloodshot eyes
- Laughing for no reason at all
- Short-term memory fails
Is Weed Addictive?
While is weed is not as addictive as other drugs, it can lead to marijuana use disorder which can lead to addiction. About 30% of marijuana users have some degree of addiction. The younger the user starts, the more likely they will develop a marijuana use disorder.
Marijuana addiction can cause:
- Mood changes
- Sleep difficulties
- Decreased appetite
Marijuana Abuse Statistics
Marijuana use may start as early as age 12.
A 2016 study found that 9.4 percent of 8th graders, admitted to having used it in the past year, while 5.4 percent in the past month. By 10th grade, past-year use was 23.9 percent, past month use was 14 percent. In 12th grade, 35.6 percent in the past year, 22.5 percent in the past month.
Another study found that daily marijuana use in the US rose by 2.3 million from 2006 to 2012.
The Dangers of Marijuana
While many believe that marijuana use is beneficial for many conditions, the evidence is mostly anecdotal. To know the dangers of excessive marijuana use, more research is needed.
Some of the known or suspected health hazards of marijuana use include:
- Damage to the immune system: Smoking weed every day may weaken your immune system. First, it could damage the cells of your bronchial passages, your body’s initial defense against microorganisms you might ingest or otherwise get through your body. It also may weaken your overall immune system, destroying your capacity to protect yourself from foreign bodies. Once this happens, you may be at risk of catching serious illnesses though other research does not support this.
- Problems in the respiratory system: Smoking marijuana regularly could cause many of the same problems as smoking tobacco, including bronchitis, pulmonary infections, and respiratory cancer.
- Mental health is at risk: Marijuana could give you several mental health problems, thus, it has been regarded as the “root” of many psychological disorders, including severe psychosis, at least among individuals who are already of risk of such mental health problems.
Immediate Side Effects of Marijuana Abuse
Before those long-term dangers manifest, the marijuana user might exhibit these immediate effects:
- Paranoia or delusions
- Increased heart rate or palpitations
- Eating even when full
- Problems with motor skills or coordination
- Panic attacks or sudden fears
- Impaired thinking, memory, and judgment.
Do not underestimate the other more serious impacts weed could have on you.
Long-Term Effects of Marijuana Abuse
The long-term effects of the excessive use of the weed may include:
- A decrease in IQ, verbal ability and general knowledge.
- Poorer school performance, lower grades, higher likelihood of dropping out
- Opioid abuse could be more likely
- Problems forming or maintaining relationships
- Trouble getting or keeping a job and supporting oneself
Possible Effects on Teens
Because the teen brain is still developing, it is not far-fetched that it might be affected by chronic marijuana use more than an adult brain. Among the deficits they may experience:
- Ability to think impaired. According to a study in 2013, teenagers’ ability to think, decide, and focus on something could be affected while marijuana is still in their system.
- School performance deteriorates. The teen’s grades drop and participation in school activities stops.
- Behavior changes. The teenager acts differently and has become irritable.
Recognizing a Marijuana Addiction
When you love someone and you are concerned with his or her immediate recovery, you must be conscious of the marijuana abuse addiction red flags. In short, you must know these warnings so that necessary interventions can be done right away:
- Red eyes
- Love of eating increases dramatically, leading to weight gain
- Loses all motivation
- Often seems fearful or paranoid
- Poor coordination and reaction time
Treating a Marijuana Addiction
Like other forms of substance use disorder, treatment for marijuana addiction is available. Look for a drug and alcohol rehab facility that treats marijuana use disorder. Their professionals can help with the detox and withdrawal process. They can tailor a medical and therapeutic plan to help with the recovery process.
Learn more about how Mountain Springs can jump-start your desire to recover and experience long-term sobriety.
Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.
Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.
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