Marijuana, also known as Cannabis, is derived from the flowers, stems, seeds, and dried leaves from the Cannabis indica plant or Cannabis sativa plant. It is considered to be a psychoactive drug because it contains the mind-altering chemical, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which attaches to the receptors in the brain associated with pleasure, thinking, and time perception to produce a variety of psychological effects. Other names for marijuana are dope, reefers, Mary Jane, pot, weed, hash, and green. Marijuana addiction is a matter of controversy these days as people debate the pros and cons of legalized pot.
Individuals consume the drug by smoking it through hand-rolled cigarette (joints), pipes or water pipes (bongs), emptied cigars refilled or partially filled with the drug (blunts), vaporizers, or mixing it into foods. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States, and over 11 million people between the ages of 18 to 25 used the drug in 2015. Its use is legal in California, Nevada, Colorado, Alaska, Maine, and a few other states.
The three main forms of cannabis are (1) marijuana, which is the least potent and most popular, (2) hashish, which is made from the resin of the plant, and (3) hash oil, which is the potent oil derived from hashish, known as cannabis oil. This drug produces many short-term and long-term effects on individuals, and the drug is used recreationally as well as for various medical purposes.
What Are Marijuana’s Effects?
Short-term effects — The short-term effects of marijuana include the “high” that people feel, described by altered senses, difficulty remembering, mood swings, altered time perception, decreased problem-solving ability, impaired body movement, and delusions, psychosis, and hallucinations when taken in higher doses. The THC in the drug transfers into the bloodstream from the lungs and the blood carries the chemical throughout the body. The short-term effects can last for 30 minutes to one hour.
Long-term effects — The long-term effects include the way it affects the individual’s brain development, which can result in impaired thinking, problem-solving, and learning. One of the main long-term effects is memory problems, which are caused by the way marijuana affects the individual’s hippocampus ( the region of the brain that regulates short-term memory). Individuals may experience false memories or having a hard time developing new memories as a result of long-term marijuana use.
Physical health effects — One of the many physical health effects that can result from marijuana use is problems in breathing, and this is because the smoke irritates the lungs. It can increase an individual’s heart rate for three hours after smoking, which may increase their chances of heart attack. Nausea, vomiting, and dehydration can be physical health effects of marijuana use, and using the drug during pregnancy can affect the child’s development.
Mental health effects — Research shows that long-term marijuana use can result in psychological problems for individuals. Long-term use can lead to mental health problems, such as hallucinations, paranoia, worsening symptoms in people with schizophrenia. Depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts can also be mental health effects that may form as a result of marijuana use. The side effects are most commonly described as having psychological experiences.
Why do People Use Marijuana?
People use marijuana for the “high” the drug produces. This high is described as feelings of euphoria and relaxation, and even the simplest of activities seem altered while on the drug. Unlike alcohol which produces the same effect on everyone, its effects can vary from person to person. Some people may find themselves laughing while others find themselves yawning. Other individuals may describe their high as going on a “bad trip,” which causes feelings of anxiousness or scary hallucinations.
Is Marijuana a Gateway Drug?
Research suggests that marijuana use can be a “gateway drug,” which is defined as a habit-forming drug that can lead to the use of other addictive substances. The NIDA states that, “alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana are likely to come before use of other drugs,” and that the THC can change how the brain reacts to other drugs. There are also many social, environmental, and societal factors that should be taken into consideration when deciding the cause of a person’s drug addiction, but using the drug at a young age could be one factor of an individual developing an addiction later in life.
Is Marijuana Addictive?
Marijuana use can lead to individuals developing a substance use disorder, which is the recurrent use of drugs that can lead to many psychological and physical health problems. When these substance use disorders become severe, addiction can potentially be formed. Research shows that between 9 to 30 percent of marijuana users will form a substance use disorder to the drug, and the probability is higher when the user starts using the substance from a young age.
When someone who has formed a substance use disorder or an addiction to marijuana, they will experience withdrawal symptoms in absence of the drug. These withdrawal symptoms can be mild to severe and mainly include sleeplessness, changes in eating patterns, anxiety, drug cravings, and irritability. If withdrawal symptoms are present in absence of the drug, a substance use disorder or an addiction has most likely been formed.
Addiction occurs when the individual’s life begins to revolve around marijuana. This may cause the individual to engage in risky behaviors that are not typical of them, such as breaking the law or stealing money. Relationship problems, financial problems, and health problems can all come as a result of marijuana addiction and can cause them to form many unhealthy relationships.
Help for Marijuana Addiction
Individualized approach — By adopting an individualized approach to recovery, meaning you focus on taking the mind, body, and spirit off of the drugs and not just adapting the body to its absence, the individual will gain a more effective perspective on recovery. These comprehensive approaches to drug addiction help the addicted individual to become more aware of what a healthy lifestyle looks like, how to form healthy relationships, and how to take care of emotional problems that may otherwise increase their chances of relapse.
Counseling — Whether it be individual counseling, family counseling, or other forms of group counseling, these sessions can benefit a recovering addict by allowing them to open up and share their experiences with others. Individuals suffering from addiction may lose sight of what their life’s purpose is, have been having relationship problems with family members, or have been going through difficulties in their personal life. Counseling helps individuals come to terms with their problems so that they can move forward without them.
Education — By learning about life outside of addiction, addiction itself, and alternatives to their drug use, people suffering from addiction can learn to understand their underlying problems and find unique ways to replace their addiction with a healthy lifestyle.
If you or a loved one is suffering from marijuana abuse, call Best Drug Rehabilitation at our toll-free number to learn about the various forms of treatment available to you. You will be introduced to information on addiction, effective preventative techniques, and tailored treatment to your unique needs.