If you or a loved one is struggling with marijuana addiction, reach out for help. Our team of medical, clinical, and wellness experts are here to help you break free from addiction and achieve the happy, healthy life you deserve.
What Is Marijuana?
Marijuana is a naturally occurring, mind-altering drug that comes from the cannabis plant. In recent years, there has been a spike in synthetic marijuana. The synthetic drug, commonly called K2, is made with a variety of dried plants and sprayed with unknown chemicals. As a result, it can be toxic.
Marijuana is the most commonly used drug in the United States. In fact, more than half of American adults have tried this drug at least once, and approximately 55 million adults have admitted to using it regularly.
What Are Common Street Names for Marijuana?
Popular names include:
- Mary Jane
What Does Marijuana Look Like?
Marijuana comes from the cannabis plant, which is green and leafy. To consume the drug, the plant must be dried first. Dried cannabis looks like shredded green and brown flowers, stems, and leaves. It can sometimes resemble tobacco. In addition, it can be found in the form of tea, tinctures, butters, and vaporizers. These variations all come from the cannabis plant as well.
How Is Marijuana Used?
Marijuana is usually smoked, but can also be mixed in with food or brewed as tea. Common ways of smoking marijuana are in hand-rolled cigarettes called joints, in pipes, in bongs, and in blunts. Moreover, vaporizers and vape pens are also commonly used to consume the drug. It can be consumed in tincture or edible form as well. A tincture is a liquid that has been infused with highly concentrated cannabis extracts. They are usually swallowed or absorbed under the tongue in small amounts. Edibles are food products that are combined or infused with cannabis. They are consumed orally. Popular forms of edibles include chocolate, gummy candies, cookies, and brownies.
What Are the Short-Term Effects of Marijuana?
Marijuana is typically used for its sedative properties. It reduces inhibitions, making some users more sociable or talkative. It also enhances sensory perception, heightening sensitivity to physical touch, art, and music. Though it is sometimes also used for medical purposes, marijuana is still a drug that can threaten an individual’s overall well-being. Although the drug’s short-term effects differ from person to person, common effects include:
- Increased appetite
- Altered or heightened sensory perception
- Mood changes
- Impaired memory
- Impaired body movement
Why Is Marijuana Harmful?
Although marijuana has become legal in several states over the last decade, it is not harmless. Specifically, short-term use can lead to paranoia, anxiety, loss of coordination and memory, impaired decision-making abilities, and drowsiness. Over longer stretches of time, cannabis use can damage the immune system and cause other undesirable consequences. Moreover, this drug can also cause permanent damage to the brain. Long-time users of the drug may experience an IQ loss of as much as 8 points, and various studies have linked marijuana use to reduced educational attainment among students.
In addition to the harmful health and social effects of marijuana, use of this drug can also lead to the development of a substance use disorder. A study from SAMHSA revealed that approximately 1 in 10 people who use marijuana will become addicted. This rate is even higher for users who start before age 18.
What Are the Long-Term Effects of Marijuana Abuse?
While marijuana is not considered as dangerous as other drugs such as heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine, repeated misuse can lead to addiction, increased risk of abusing other, more potent substances, and health problems. Long-term abuse can affect an individual’s physical, mental, and social health. Some of the effects may include:
- Anxiety and depression
- Impaired judgment and memory loss
- Chronic cough
- Oral and throat cancers
- Respiratory disorders
- Financial difficulties
- Poor school/work performance
- Fertility issues
- Damage to the immune system
- Damage to the central nervous system
What Are the Signs of Marijuana Addiction?
Marijuana abuse becomes addiction when an individual cannot stop using the drug to the point where it disrupts daily activities and responsibilities. Like other substances when used in excess, marijuana can cause neurological dependence, leading to changes such as:
- Distorted perception
- Poor memory
- Red eyes
- Dry mouth
- Dilated pupils
- Slowed reaction time and poor coordination
- Difficulty sleeping
In addition to the physical and psychological signs of marijuana dependence, an individual who is addicted to this drug is likely to struggle when it comes to maintaining healthy relationships and keeping up with responsibilities at work or in school. Those in active addiction often go to great lengths to hide their substance use from friends and family. As a result, they will withdraw from social activities in order to use the drug.
What Does a Marijuana Overdose Look Like?
Although a deadly overdose is highly unlikely, as an individual would need to consume a massive amount of marijuana, a temporary overdose is possible. This is often referred to as “greening out.” This is more likely to occur if the individual mixes marijuana with alcohol or other drugs. Additionally, an overdose is more likely to occur when consuming edibles rather than smoking or vaping. This is because it is difficult to determine the exact dosing of THC in edibles. Signs of an overdose include:
- Pupil dilation
- High levels of anxiety
- Confusion and memory problems
- Fast pulse
- Shaking and chills
- Trouble breathing
- Nausea and vomiting
When marijuana is combined with other drugs, more severe effects can include seizures and strokes. If you or someone you know is experiencing any serious physical side effects from marijuana use, seek medical attention immediately.
How is Marijuana Addiction Treated?
Recovering from marijuana abuse requires more than simply abstaining from the drug. Drug counseling can address the underlying issues that led to substance abuse as well as the behaviors that it caused. Comprehensive addiction treatment programs such as inpatient (residential) and outpatient offerings can help individuals heal not just physically but also mentally and spiritually. Clinical therapies and services such as addiction education and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) help individuals learn positive stress-coping and relapse-prevention skills.
Furthermore, those recovering from marijuana addiction can benefit from a variety of holistic therapies. For example, individuals who used marijuana to cope with anxiety, anger, or fear may find tranquility through meditation, which soothes the mind and helps keep worries in perspective. Users who searched for relaxation through marijuana may value the connection to nature and the tranquility they can find by taking hikes and walks. Lastly, those who resorted to marijuana to strengthen their imagination may find solace in new creative outlets such as mindfulness through music.
For more activities that promote holistic healing, consult our Wellness page.