What are the Symptoms and Treatment for Marijuana Abuse?

Facts about Marijuana

  • Although there are roughly 400 chemicals in marijuana, the main chemical that produces a “high” is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol).
  • Marijuana looks like dried green/brown leaves, seeds and stems from the hemp (cannabis sativa) plant.
  • Most users smoke marijuana from a pipe (bong), cigar (blunt), or cigarette (joint). It can also be mixed in food or brewed in drinks.
  • Marijuana is the most abused illegal drug in the U.S.
  • Common street names for marijuana are Pot, Grass, Herb, Weed, Ganja, Hash, Gangster, Mary Jane, Reefer, Chronic, Skunk and Boom.

The Effects of Marijuana Abuse

The active chemical in marijuana, THC, binds to cannabinoid receptors on brain cells, which are mostly concentrated in the pleasure, thinking, sensory and movement centers of the brain. Because of this impact on the brain, marijuana abuse can result in the following side effects:

  • Difficulty thinking, making decisions and solving problems
  • Distorted perceptions
  • Impaired balance and coordination
  • Problems with learning and memory
  • Irregular heart rhythms
  • Respiratory problems and greater risk of lung infections
  • Paranoia
  • Depressed mood
  • Acute psychosis (including hallucinations, delusions and loss of identity)

Research shows that marijuana increases the user’s heart rate by 20 to 100 percent for up to three hours after smoking. Studies confirm that people who drive while high on marijuana have slower reaction times and impaired judgment, putting them at greater risk for accidents and DUI (driving under the influence).

Chronic marijuana use has also been associated with a variety of mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety and schizophrenia. Users also self-report less education, life satisfaction and career success.

Is Marijuana Addictive?

Research suggests that roughly 9 percent of users become addicted to marijuana. Those who start using marijuana at a young age or who use the drug every day are more likely to become addicted (up to 50 percent of users).

Long-term marijuana use carries many of the characteristics of addiction, such as spending large amounts of time and money to get more of the drug and continuing to abuse marijuana despite negative consequences. In addition, marijuana addicts who try to quit may experience the following withdrawal symptoms for up to two weeks after stopping:

  • Anxiety
  • Drug cravings
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Decreased appetite

Treatment for Marijuana Addiction

Marijuana accounts for hundreds of thousands of admissions to addiction treatment facilities, particularly among young men who started using at an early age. Marijuana addiction can be treated in outpatient and inpatient programs, often using behavioral interventions such as cognitive-behavioral therapy.

If you or someone you know is wrestling with marijuana abuse, call our free helpline today at (844) 543-3242.

Information used with permission from CRC Health Group.

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