Marijuana has long been a contentious drug. As arguments involving its safety and potential for addiction continue, the drug has also become more popular with users of all ages. According to the United States National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana is currently the most prevalent of all the illicit drugs in the nation. Use has continued to rise since 2007, with more teens now smoking marijuana more than they smoke cigarettes. In general, those who argue in favor of marijuana legalization and believe in the purported health benefits of medical marijuana do not think that using it is as dangerous as using other illicit drugs. While this may be true, there is still some potential for abuse, which is why many users find themselves having to enroll in marijuana recovery facilities.
Physical Effects of Marijuana Abuse
When smoked occasionally, marijuana is not actually thought of as being harmful. However, those with addictive tendencies may find themselves forming a dependency on the drug. The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains that smoking marijuana causes over activation of the endocannabinoid system — the area of the brain that causes you to remember, concentrate, stay coordinated and feel pleasure. The result of this over activation can be the high feeling that smokers report, but it also can cause distorted thinking and lack of coordination. These problems become more pronounced as the frequency of usage increases.
Safety levels of non-prescribed marijuana vary depending on the supplier and the manner in which it is smoked. A number of dangerous side effects can occur, including the following:
- Dry mouth
- Mental impairments
- Immune system weakening
Marijuana is also more dangerous for some users than others. For example, women who are pregnant or breast-feeding are advised to avoid even the prescribed form of marijuana, as the drug is known to pass through the placenta and slow the growth process of the fetus. Additionally, research suggests that using marijuana during pregnancy can lead to childhood leukemia.
In addition to pregnant or breast-feeding women, those struggling with problems related to blood pressure or seizures are advised to abstain from smoking the drug since smoking marijuana can make these problems worse.
If you or a loved one has experienced any of the above symptoms on a severe scale, it may be time to consider quitting marijuana. This can be a difficult process.
Is Marijuana Addictive?
Treatment for marijuana abuse is often not taken seriously. Many people fail to realize that this substance can, indeed, be addictive. Because of its perception as a drug that does not create addicts, many users may fail to recognize the warning signs of marijuana abuse until they are fully trapped within the horrors of addiction. Research reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse shows that when taken on a chronic level, marijuana can lead to problems in daily life. Frequent marijuana users are more likely to drop out of school or get fired from jobs. They also are reported to have lower life satisfaction and poorer physical health than nonusers.
Mental health among heavy marijuana smokers is also a huge concern, as there is a high association between mental health issues (such as depression and bipolar disorders) and using the substance. It is impossible to know for sure whether people turn to marijuana as a result of depression or whether the mental problems arise from using the drug. Some believe that both of these factors contribute to the strong correlation. Experts from the Mayo Clinic have found that marijuana can be a direct trigger of schizophrenia for those already at risk of psychosis. For this reason, those with family histories of mental illness should stay far away from the drug.
Do you think that you could currently be suffering from an addiction to marijuana? You may be able to obtain help from a marijuana treatment program.
Those suffering from an addiction to marijuana will be glad to know that they stand a good chance of recovering. As the drug is not quite as physically addictive as other illicit substances, it is easier to quit without experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms. Patients taking part in marijuana rehabilitation programs find that the biggest struggle related to recovery is overcoming the mental addiction to this drug. Because so many patients experience mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, users have a tendency to fall back on the drug in times of hardship. By visiting marijuana treatment facilities, these individuals can work with therapists to come up with effective alternatives to drug use. If a relapse does occur, those who have participated in marijuana recovery programs will know how to get back on track.