What is marijuana?

Marijuana is a plant mixture of dried Cannabis sativa. Most people smoke it in pipes, hand made cigarettes and water pipes. Marijuana can used as tea, or mixed in with baking goods. Most recently marijuana has been used with vaporizers.  There are different names associated with marijuana, such as weed, pot, mary jane, grass, and many more.

THC or delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol is the main chemical found in marijuana, that causes mind-altering and intoxicating effects. This chemical derives from the leaves and buds of the female plant. There are over five hundred other chemicals, that are associated with THC, and are called cannabinoids.

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According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the statistics show that marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the US, twenty-two million people use it, and it’s widespread among adolescents.

What are the effects of marijuana use?

When a person smokes marijuana, the chemicals reach the lungs and then flow to the bloodstream, and finally, get delivered to the brain. The effects of marijuana use are instantaneous and often associate with sensations of euphoria, relaxation, high alertness, increased appetite. However, some individuals may experience adverse effects of marijuana use, which may be the opposite of popular knowledge. These effects may be anxiety, hallucinations, delusions, psychosis, and confusion of one’s identity.  If marijuana ingested in foods and drinks, the effect may be delayed due to a digestive process, that may take hours.

Generally, the effects of marijuana use last for a few hours.

Can marijuana use become addictive?

Marijuana use can result in marijuana use disorder, which may grow into addiction in more extreme cases. Young adults who have used marijuana before reaching the age of 18, are more predisposed to develop marijuana use disorder. This disorder may lead to dependence, which causes the person to experience withdrawal symptoms once they stop using the drug. The dependence or in some cases addiction happens due to changes in the brain function and may induce the following side effects: mood swings, insomnia, agitation, lower appetite, anxiety, uneasiness, and physical discomfort.

Whare are the effects of marijuana on the brain?

Recent studies suggest that marijuana use can cause some functional impairments in cognitive abilities. In some cases, regular marijuana use decreases the number of specific functions in the brain zones, such as memory, learning and impulse control. Marijuana use diminishes a brain area responsible for memory and processing information, by altering the receptors. Repeated THC exposure may accelerate age-related memory and learning abilities loss.

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Short-term effects of marijuana use on the brain:

  • deficiency with memory
  • deficiency of attention
  • deficiency in learning
  • mood changes
  • relationship issues

Long-term effects of marijuana use on the brain:

  • delay in brain development (especially in teens and kids)
  • diminished or even permanent memory loss, learning ability
  • diminished problem solving
  • behavioral problems
  • problems with attention

What are the health effects of marijuana use?

Chronic marijuana use may cause severe health problems, and lead to addiction. Smoking marijuana delivers powerful THC and other cannabinoids to the person’s system, as well as harmful similar to the ones present in tobacco and cigarettes. There are several risks to those who use marijuana:

  • fast heartbeat
  • stroke
  • heart diseases
  • heart attacks
  • lung tissue and scarring
  • higher risk of death due to the affected circulatory system
  • secondhand smoking
  • developmental problems in children exposed to drug
  • mental health issues, like disorientation, anxiety and paranoia
  • mental health disorders, like hallucinations and schizophrenia
  • depression, and even suicidal thoughts
  • risk of using other drugs as gateway drug

What are the signs of marijuana addiction?

As per the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions, approximately one in ten marijuana users will become addicted, and for individuals who start using the drug before reaching the age of eighteen, that number increases to one in six. Marijuana is the most used illegal drug in the US, and the statistics show about thirty-seven million people using it.  Marijuana use can affect a person’s health.  There are several signs of possible marijuana addiction:

  • inability to stop using marijuana
  • neglecting important friends and family activities due to drug use
  • continue marijuana use despite harmful consequences to the person’s health
  • neglecting important everyday responsibilities like a job, school, home, and social activities.
  • the need to smoke more in order to achieve similar effects

What is a treatment for marijuana addiction?

Marijuana use disorder is very similar to other drug and substance abuse disorders. Many people searching for treatment for marijuana use disorder have been using the drug for decades, and have made unsuccessful attempts to stop. Some teens or young adults may also show the presence of other mental health disorders, called comorbidity. Along with marijuana use, an adolescent and teen may abuse other drugs like cocaine, alcohol or prescription drugs.  The most effective way to treat marijuana disorders along with mental health disorders, is to combine medications and behavioral therapy. Medications may help to combat withdrawal symptoms, curb mental health disorders, and over-all improve physical condition. Behavioral therapy helps to combat addictive tendencies and triggers.

There are several behavioral treatments available:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy. The therapy may help a recovering addict to learn and identify certain behaviors associated with drug use, learn to cope with life’s stress without using drugs, identify and avoid triggers.
  • Contingency management. A therapy based on monitoring and management, leading to rewards upon occurrence of positive behaviors.

Family support is extremely important element of successful therapy. Support groups and individual counseling may help to reduce future triggers and relapses.