Over 94 million people in the U.S. have admitted to using marijuana once, making it the most widely taken drug in the nation by far. After alcohol, it’s the most common substance found in the system of individuals who were involved in fatal car accidents. Some states have decided to legalize it, and the government estimates that domestic marijuana production has increased tenfold in the last 25 years — but that doesn’t mean it’s harmless.
Marijuana abuse or addiction can consume someone’s life and prevent them from reaching their goals. It’s a severe disease that renders the individual unable to control their intake or maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Marijuana is the name for the cured leaves, flowers, seeds and extracts made from the Cannabis Sativa plant. Although it contains over 100 active compounds known as cannabinoids, the primary psychoactive agent in the substance is called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol — or THC. THCV is also known for its potentially psychotropic effects, but it occurs in much smaller concentrations than THC.
Many modern plants are explicitly bred to encourage high THC content. In the past, hemp, hash and cannabis flower contained around 3% – 7% THC. Over the last few decades, this has crept up, and it’s now common to see a THC content of 30% and higher. Scientists are reasonably sure that it’s THC that causes adverse effects in some individuals.
There are more than 1,000 names for marijuana, including:
Marijuana affects each person in a slightly different way, although there are common effects that most people experience. This is why some people feel intense anxiety or a sense of overwhelming stress when they smoke cannabis, and others find it relaxing and uplifting. Overall, it leaves people feeling relaxed, with heightened sensory awareness and varying levels of physical effects like a dry mouth, pink eye, and munchies.
THC triggers your brain to flood with dopamine, making you feel pleasure and compelling you to do it again. It also affects your hippocampus, which is part of the brain that processes memory. This is why your perception is slightly different when you’re high, and also why it can be harder to remember things.
If you’re worried that someone you know and care about is addicted to marijuana, there are some subtle signs. People suffering from addiction can become secretive and dishonest, but there are some giveaways an observant and concerned loved one can watch out for:
There is a significant difference between cannabis abuse, dependence, and addiction, although abuse and dependence often lead to addiction.
Marijuana abuse refers to the harmful or illegal use of the drug. For instance, if someone in a state where it’s only legal for medicinal use is using it recreationally. It could also refer to someone who uses the drug to relax when they experience difficult emotions. This is drug abuse, too. Using any substance to cover up feelings or self-medicate is a high-risk strategy that often leads to addiction.
Dependence refers to the point at which an individual is in the habit of using the drug and feels as if they can’t do without it. If they can’t get hold of cannabis, they might feel anxious or preoccupied with obtaining it. Dependence is a symptom of addiction — but you can be dependent on marijuana without being addicted. We’d recommend seeking medical treatment for dependence to prevent the condition from escalating.
These are some of the short time adverse health effects some individuals who chronically abuse marijuana might experience:
Over the long-term, the following health effects have been observed in some people:
Young people are at a significantly increased risk of developing marijuana addiction or dependence compared to adults. Additionally, developing an addiction as a teenager or young adult puts you at a much higher risk of going on to display addictive behavior as you get older. As such, young people should be cautious about using cannabis. Seek medical help immediately if you’ve been taking it regularly or feel like it helps you with your emotions.
Anyone, at any age, should seek medical help if they’re worried that they’ve developed an unhealthy relationship with marijuana. Addiction is a treatable disease, and treatment will help you to regain control of your life and your future. Addiction Answers can match you with the treatment best suited to your individual needs.
Don’t go through the process of recovery alone. There are people who can help you with the struggle you’re facing. Get in touch with one today.