Marijuana: Abuse, Effects, and Addiction
Marijuana is the most commonly abused illicit substance. In fact, more than 4 million Americans reportedly have a dependence on marijuana.
Marijuana is the most commonly abused illicit substance. In fact, more than 4 million Americans reportedly have a dependence on marijuana. This drug, which is acquired from the cannabis plant, is legal in some states and illegal in others. Some states permit the medical use of marijuana, while some others have also legalized recreational marijuana.
The cannabis plant is typically dried out, ground up, and smoked: either in paper like a cigarette or in a pipe like tobacco. It may also come in the form of edibles, which are foods that contain marijuana’s active ingredient, Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. It is placed in baked goods and candies, and can produce the same effects as smoking it.
Some recreational users consume a resin-like substance, often referred to as “dabs,” that is concentrated from the plant. It may come in the form of a viscous liquid, a wax-like substance, or a hard, crystallized material similar to hard candy. It produces a far more intense high compared to “regular” marijuana. Dabs are sometimes called wax, budder, or shatter. Dabs are made in several ways, but most commonly with butane or isopropyl alcohol, both of which can be very dangerous.
Marijuana may be used medically for stress and pain relief. It is also used to increase appetite. Similarly, recreational users take marijuana for its calming effects and to achieve a high. Common street names for marijuana include pot, dope, grass, mary jane, ganja, reefer, and weed.
From 2006 to 2012, daily use of marijuana among Americans increased by 2.3 million people. Marijuana was also the main drug of choice for 18 percent of people who entered rehabilitation programs in 2009.
Despite a long history of legislation for and against its use, it is widely accepted that both marijuana addiction and withdrawal are real. To this day, there is a lot of misinformation about the risks of marijuana use.
Marijuana Effects and Abuse
As a psychoactive drug, marijuana can alter a user’s perception. Marijuana contains THC, which is the chemical compound that causes the drug’s effects.
The drug’s impact may vary from person to person. The effects may be different for everyone, depending on how it is consumed and how much is taken. Smoking marijuana, for example, produces a faster yet short-lived high compared to taking it orally.
Dabs, on the other hand, can have effects that last for hours due to their concentrated amounts of THC. It is interesting to note that the THC content of marijuana has increased by as much as 300 percent since the 1960s. This affects marijuana abuse and tolerance. The higher doses of THC in today’s marijuana can increase the risk of intoxication-related dangers. It also means marijuana users nowadays are at a higher risk of developing drug dependence.
Effects of marijuana include euphoria, mild hallucinations, increased appetite, and reduced anxiety. These effects are considered desirable by many users, which is why they are motivated to keep taking marijuana.
Marijuana has an added advantage of having virtually no risk of causing an overdose. Despite this, marijuana still comprises the second highest rates of emergency room visits caused by abusing an illicit substance. It is second only to cocaine.
These hospital visits are mostly related to accidents that occurred when individuals were intoxicated.
Marijuana addiction, just like any other addiction, can have a severe negative impact on a person’s life. People can develop a psychological dependence on the drug in the same way other addictions can develop. Marijuana addiction can be clinically diagnosed.
Addiction forms because of the way marijuana interacts with the brain. When a person takes marijuana, cannabinoid receptors in their brain are activated by a neurotransmitter called Anandamide. THC mimics and blocks the actions of these neurotransmitters, to the point where the body no longer produces sufficient Anandamide on its own.
Marijuana reprograms the user’s brain to need the drug and form a dependence. This is why over time, marijuana users start to feel like they cannot function normally without using the drug. They need to take it just to feel normal.
When the user stops bringing more THC into the body, they go into withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms may manifest due to the lack of Anandamide. Repeatedly attempting to quit marijuana and failing each time is a strong indication of an addiction.
Addiction has its physical and mental health effects—but it also has immediate social consequences such as legal complications, falling behind in school, having problems at work, and ruining relationships. Addiction is characterized by the continued use of marijuana despite already suffering from its consequences. The user may neglect their responsibilities and lose interest in their hobbies, as they begin to prioritize marijuana over everything else. Their days will revolve around acquiring and using the drug.
Marijuana and Other Drugs
Marijuana is recognized as a common gateway drug. Experimenting with this substance often leads to the abuse of harder drugs like cocaine, heroin, or ecstasy. Its reputation as a gateway drug is mostly attributed to teenage marijuana use, because teens are more likely to experiment with other drugs.
If someone in the family is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, it is important to seek help. A combination of medical detox and behavioral therapy can go a long way in the fight against substance abuse. But because every individual is affected by addiction differently, a comprehensive program tailored to their specific needs is necessary. Look for a nearby addiction treatment facility today and find out how drug treatment programs work.
Rehab is Your Best Chance
Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover. Beating an addiction not only requires eliminating the physical dependence, but also addressing the behavioral factors that prevent them from wanting to get better. Simply quitting may not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Some people quit for a while, and then take drugs or alcohol again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.