Marijuana comes from the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa. It is widely used as a recreational drug because of its active ingredient, THC. THC and other compounds present in marijuana change how the body functions, as it affects many organ systems, the immune system, and even the central nervous system.
According to WebMD, THC is absorbed quickly if marijuana is smoked. It takes a while for THC to be absorbed if eating marijuana from a food product because it has to go through the digestive system before effects are felt.
Some of the physical effects of marijuana include:
- Dry mouth
- An increase in appetite
- Shallow breathing
- A reduced reaction time
- Dilated pupils and red eyes
Smoking marijuana is also known to irritate the lungs and could cause frequent users to develop a cough or increase the chances of getting lung infections. Those who use marijuana chronically could also experience withdrawal symptoms, cravings, irritableness, a decreased appetite, or sleeplessness if they stop using the drug.
People cite feeling of relaxation, happiness, or other forms of detachment from reality with marijuana use, often leading to repeated use. There can also be some unpleasant side effects associated with the drug, such as:
- Short-term memory issues (forgetfulness)
- Disorganized thoughts
Like any other substances, use of marijuana carries certain risks. Marijuana can have varying levels of THC, ranging from 1 to 16 percent on average, and this could make it hard to know what side effects one could have. This is the case even for marijuana purchased through legal means, such as through medical dispensaries. A higher percentage of THC could also increase the likelihood of addiction and dependence, and makes marijuana’s effects much stronger.
People with diabetes, liver disease, or low blood pressure could also be at increased risk of problems if they use marijuana. Marijuana can also exacerbate depression, depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia, though there is no conclusive evidence that marijuana can cause these problems. Mayo Clinic also states that marijuana could cause problems with bleeding, and those who have bleeding disorders should be cautious if they use the drug.
People with stomach problems, heart problems, and a history of seizures should be careful when using marijuana. It is important for people to avoid driving or operating heavy machinery after using the drug. Those who are pregnant, nursing, or trying to get pregnant should also avoid marijuana.
Street-bought marijuana could also have PCP, animal tranquilizer, or other unregulated products mixed in. These additives can lead to additional health concerns. Because there is no regulation for marijuana sold on the street, there is no way to predict what it actually contains.
Signs and Symptoms of Addiction
People with a past drug abuse history are at an increased risk of abusing marijuana. Per the Addiction, Science & Clinical Practicejournal, the occurrence of marijuana use disorders has increased significantly over the past several years; however, addiction treatment methods show promise in addressing the problem.
Like with any other drug addiction, those who are addicted to marijuana use the substance despite personal or professional problems, feel unable to stop using marijuana, or use it despite financial problems. Teenagers who become dependent on marijuana are at increased risk of teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, dropping out of school, and having legal problems.
Those who use cannabis of high potency might experience vomiting or stomach pains that last for hours. This is known as cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome. A study published by Current Drug Abuse Review states that these symptoms may last up to 48 hours. Treatment for this might include medications in the forms of fluids, and hot showers and baths to ease discomfort. The only way to avoid the issue is to avoid marijuana use.
A study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse revealed that people who frequently use marijuana report decreased performance during daily tasks.
People who use the drug often perform at a decreased concentration level much of the time. Marijuana use has long-lasting effects on a person’s memory, attention span, and ability to learn. Whether or not marijuana is the ultimate cause of these problems, or simply contributes to them, is still under study.
Finding Marijuana Abuse Treatment
As with any form of substance abuse, marijuana abuse treatment can help individuals to stop using marijuana and achieve lives of balance and sobriety. While there is debate over marijuana’s physical addiction potential, there is no doubt that the drug can be psychologically addictive. As a result, medical detox might be required, depending on the individual situation.
During medical detox, individuals are monitored as their bodies become accustomed to the lack of the substance.
During marijuana detox, individuals may feel mild withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, paranoia, and fatigue.
In some instances, over-the-counter medications or holistic therapies may be given to ease these symptoms.
It’s important to find a treatment center that can address the entire addiction rehabilitation process, from medical detox through therapy and into aftercare. This ensures that the clients are supported throughout the entire process rather than left to navigate recovery on their own once they finish one level of care. Individuals may be referred to treatment facilities via family physicians, or they may find a facility in their local area that works well for them. In some instances, individuals may wish to travel to a facility of their choose. This allows them to step away from their daily lives and fully focus on addiction recovery.
When choosing a facility, make sure the program treats each client on an individual basis, rather than offering a one-size-fits-all approach to recovery. The treatment plan may need to be altered throughout the recovery process, and each client should have input into that plan.
The most common treatments for addiction to marijuana are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, family-based therapies, and Contingency Management. Therapy may take place in both individual and group settings. The National Institute on Drug Abuse and studies conducted by other reputable researchers conclude that no medication is needed to combat marijuana addiction. If medications are needed to address any co-occurring disorders, their use is determined on a case-by-case basis.