With a rise in the legalization, decriminalization and availability of marijuana for medicinal purpose, many people see the mind-altering substance as harmless or sometimes compare it to alcohol, which has more fatal consequences. For some compelling reasons, many people don’t even consider marijuana a drug anymore.
With many states on the fence as to passing more relaxed laws around marijuana distribution and with the laws regularly changing, the most recent status of marijuana in the U.S. is as follows:
- Nearly 30 states allow medical marijuana.
- Approximately 10 states have legalized marijuana for recreational use.
- About 10 states have decriminalized marijuana.
While marijuana may have some beneficial uses, such as alleviating nausea during a bout of cancer or calming seizures, when it comes to addiction, marijuana is just as dangerous as any other substance. Here we’ll share with you why.
What is marijuana?
Marijuana is the dried leaves, stems, seeds and flowers from the hemp plant called cannabis sativa. This plant holds the mood-altering chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly known as THC. It is typically smoked in tightly rolled papers or pipes or mixed with food and consumed. Smoking results in quicker absorption of THC into the body, and consumption allows for slower processing in the body.
What are the problems surrounding marijuana addiction?
One of the most significant problems surrounding marijuana is the increasing general consensus that marijuana is “just a natural plant grown from the Earth.” So what is the big deal? It is absolutely pure and natural. Let’s take a look at two “pure and natural” items in our environment.
- Nightshade plants- while including tomatoes, potatoes and eggplants, also include the most toxic plant in the Eastern Hemisphere belladonna, causing rash, blurred vision and death
- Cyanide- found in peach seeds and apple seeds and also as the primary ingredient in rat poison
This is how “pure and natural” does not equate “harmless or safe.” As with nightshade plants, great care and discretion should be taken when deciding for yourself the implications of marijuana use for yourself or a loved one. Although no one has fatally overdosed on marijuana, the gradual and subtle longterm effects will become clear and are illustrated below.
What are the dangers of marijuana abuse?
According to government sources, marijuana is the single most commonly used illicit substance in the U.S., particularly among the younger adults. In 2015, more than 11 million young people between 18 and 26 reported using marijuana in the past year.
A potential hazard is dabbing. This is when a person smokes THC-infused resins taken from the marijuana plant. These extracts can administer huge quantities of THC into the body, and this process has landed some individuals in the emergency room. The preparation for dabbing involves the use of butane, or lighter fluid, and several people have caused explosions or have been severely burned trying this at home. The longterm and short-term effects are outlined in the following section.
Is marijuana addictive?
Studies suggest that 30% of those who use marijuana may develop dependence, and those who began using under the age of 18 are five to seven times more likely to develop a substance use disorder.
Marijuana has both physically and psychologically addictive properties. The physical addiction accompanies the increased tolerance and dependence of the substance. In other words, a person using marijuana regularly must use more and more to receive the same effects, eventually becoming dependent on marijuana use to regain a sense of feeling “normal.” Marijuana has long- and short-term consequences for the brain. The longterm effects may include:
- Interrupted brain development affecting the neural connections needed for proper thinking, memory and learning abilities, especially when use begins in the teen years
- Life direction impairment such as dropping out of school or losing a job due to failing a drug test
- For pregnant women, significant impairment to the fetus
- Lower ability to cope with life stressors due to the perceived need for a mood-altering substance
- Respiratory issues from lung irritation
- A possible gateway into harder drugs with greater life-threatening potential
- Lower life fulfillment due to the avoiding/numbing of emotions
When a person smokes marijuana, THC swiftly passes through the lungs to the bloodstream, where the blood transports this chemical to the brain and organs of the body. THC affects specific receptors in the brain that typically respond to chemicals similar to THC. The short-term effects include:
- Increased heart rate up to 3 hours following use
- Changes in mood
- Impaired body motion
- Modified sense of time
- Interrupted memory processing
- Difficulty problem-solving
- Altered sensory perception such as hallucinations
- Increased anxiety
- Psychotic episode, particularly in persons who have experienced trauma
What are the Best Marijuana Rehab Options for Addiction Recovery?
The best intervention for marijuana addiction or impairment is behavioral support, including therapy, family encouragement and clear boundaries when it comes to the effects on loved ones, 12-step meetings and motivational rewards for abstinence from therapist or family member. There is no current medication to address marijuana cravings or withdrawal.
Need Help Finding Marijuana Rehab?
Whether you are seeking resources for yourself or a family member, there is help out there. We at Adrugrehab.org offer support to struggling individuals and their loved ones in recovering from the devastation caused by addiction. We provide a free, national helpline with information and community resources available 24/7. We understand how overwhelming it can be to take that step towards recovery, and our mental health professionals and licensed counselors are here to support your noble efforts in a healing direction. Let us support you in achieving the peace you deserve!