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Marijuana Addiction

Despite its comprehensive legalization across the country, the opioid crisis has been stealing the headlines nationwide. Amid these times, the popularity of marijuana has skyrocketed. The drug seems to overcome many people’s fears due to the perception that it is safe

In many states, marijuana is used for medicinal purposes. While the drug does not produce fatal effects that you can expect from legal substances, it can cause someone to fall into a downward spiral. 

While many states are pushing for mass legalization of the drug, it does not mean marijuana is harmless. In high doses, marijuana can cause dangerous physical and psychological effects, which can impact cognitive and motor skills. It can also affect the cardiovascular and reproductive systems.

It’s also worth mentioning that the marijuana grown and used today is much more potent than the “grass” people smoked in the 70s. The drug contains THC, which is the active ingredient, and the amounts of it are astronomical compared to cannabis from the past.

Since marijuana affects everyone differently, no amount can be considered safe to use. There are factors, however, including substance abuse history, environment, mental health, and lifestyle that play roles in how the drug will impact someone.

Marijuana should not be taken lightly – in high enough doses, there can be severe effects that put someone in the hospital.

Despite its comprehensive legalization across the country, the opioid crisis has been stealing the headlines nationwide. Amid these times, the popularity of marijuana has skyrocketed. The drug seems to overcome many people’s fears due to the perception that it is safe

In many states, marijuana is used for medicinal purposes. While the drug does not produce fatal effects that you can expect from legal substances, it can cause someone to fall into a downward spiral. 

While many states are pushing for mass legalization of the drug, it does not mean marijuana is harmless. In high doses, marijuana can cause dangerous physical and psychological effects, which can impact cognitive and motor skills. It can also affect the cardiovascular and reproductive systems.

It’s also worth mentioning that the marijuana grown and used today is much more potent than the “grass” people smoked in the 70s. The drug contains THC, which is the active ingredient, and the amounts of it are astronomical compared to cannabis from the past.

Since marijuana affects everyone differently, no amount can be considered safe to use. There are factors, however, including substance abuse history, environment, mental health, and lifestyle that play roles in how the drug will impact someone.

Marijuana should not be taken lightly – in high enough doses, there can be severe effects that put someone in the hospital. 

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What Is Marijuana?

Marijuana is known by many names, some of which include loud, pot, grass, chronic, and bud. Each generation creates its own nickname for the substance, and it becomes evident how long marijuana has been around.

Marijuana is a psychoactive drug that is derived from the cannabis plant. It can be used for medicinal or recreational reasons. The ingredient that makes it psychoactive is known as tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. There are more than 483 chemical compounds within the plant, most of which have still not been identified.

The method of administration can determine how long it takes for the effects to take place. Smoking marijuana can produce immediate consequences. When someone ingests marijuana in an edible form, it will take much longer due to the digestion process before entering the bloodstream.

When THC interacts with the neurons in the brain, it causes a rush of dopamine or the “feel-good” chemical. The brain will release higher levels of dopamine disproportionate to what natural stimuli would produce.

Marijuana produces common effects such as a relaxed and euphoric sensation. It can also cause a distorted perception in time, increased appetite, and heightened senses. That does not mean it will not produce adverse effects as well. Some users report experiencing an increase in anxiety, paranoia, unpredictable mood changes, and fear. The physical effects may include dizziness, dry mouth, bloodshot eyes, and shallow breathing.

When someone has been using marijuana, it will remain in their system for up to three days. When cannabis is used frequently or daily, it can stay in the system for more than a week.

Marijuana in a prescription bottle next to a stethoscope

For heavy marijuana users, the drug can remain present for up to four weeks.

What Are the Signs of Marijuana Addiction?

Addiction has formed when someone disregards the consistent negative effects and goes to extreme lengths to continue their drug use. Despite whether you think marijuana is physically addictive or not, there are signs and symptoms you should know.

These can include:

  • Using more marijuana than you intended to use
  • Cravings for the substance
  • Ignoring all responsibilities to get high
  • Problems with your behavior at work or school
  • Engaging in risky actions such as driving while intoxicated
  • Unable to stop after trying to quit
  • Increased tolerance for marijuana
  • Using marijuana despite the consequences
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms after prolonged abstinence

What is Involved in Marijuana Addiction Treatment?

As you would expect with any drug addiction, quitting marijuana after prolonged exposure will result in adverse side effects, which include irritability, anxiety, drowsiness, loss of appetite, and losing weight. The cravings that marijuana users will experience can cause them to relapse.

For many drugs, the first step is medical detoxification, which involves removing foreign substances from your body. If you have been using marijuana, you may not need to go through detox. However, if you have been using other drugs in conjunction with cannabis, you may need detox to move forward in your recovery.

The next step in treatment will depend on the severity of your addiction, and it may involve living onsite at a residential treatment center for anywhere from 30 to 90 days. It will help you get to the root of your addiction and practice methods that help you overcome your triggers. Counselors and therapists will help to identify the thoughts that led you to addiction in the first place.

After residential, you may transfer into an outpatient center, which allows you to go home while still being treated with therapy and group sessions. 

Marijuana Abuse Statistics 

  • The DEA seized more than 267,000 kilograms of marijuana in 2013
  • 45 percent of high school seniors admitted to trying marijuana in 2017
  • Marijuana use has been ongoing for nearly 5,000 years.

Sources

National Institute on Drug Abuse. Marijuana as Medicine. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana-medicine

Williams, S. (2019, June 16). After Illinois, these states could legalize recreational marijuana next. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2019/06/14/next-states-likely-legalize-marijuana/1426972001/

Say What? "Dopamine". Retrieved from https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/say-what-dopamine

National Institute on Drug Abuse. Understanding Drug Use and Addiction. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/understanding-drug-use-addiction

National Institute on Drug Abuse. What is marijuana? Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/what-marijuana

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