Numerous states are legalizing marijuana for medical use and/or everyday use. But legality doesn’t mean safety. Alcohol is legal, but it can lead to accidents, abuse, and addiction. Cigarettes and nicotine are legal, but they cause cancer and may contribute to early death. While marijuana may seem relatively harmless, it comes with health and addiction risks you should know about before you decide to use it.
If you or a loved one are concerned about your marijuana use and its effects, reach out to our team in Lubbock, TX. We can help you assess your situation and decide the best course of treatment.
What is Marijuana?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana comes from the dried flowers of the Cannabis sativa plant. Marijuana can be smoked in hand-rolled joints, in pipes, in bongs, or as blunts (marijuana rolled in cigar wraps). Marijuana can be mixed into tea or food or used with a vaporizer.
Stronger forms of marijuana can be created with higher concentrations of THC, the psychoactive chemical that causes most of the intoxicating effects. THC comes from the resin produced by the leaves and buds of the female cannabis plant. Marijuana also contains many other compounds similar to THC, called cannabinoids.
What Are the Health Risks of Marijuana?
Cannabis use continues to be at an all-time high, especially among college students. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that 43% of college students used cannabis products in some form in 2019. That’s a 9% increase from five years ago. Cannabis use is also three times higher among young people who do not attend college.
If everyone is using marijuana, it must be safe, right?
That’s not the case. A number of problems may arise from marijuana use, especially when that use is consistent.
- Heavy use can damage a person’s memory, ability to learn, and ability to remain focused. This worsens over time.
- Marijuana can cause damage to a baby during pregnancy, including stunting growth, limiting cognitive development, and leading to a greater likelihood that the child will use marijuana as a young adult.
- Those who use marijuana are potentially at a higher risk for developing mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Smoking marijuana increases the risk of damage to the lungs, including increasing the potential for lung cancers. Cancers of the esophagus and mouth are also common.
- Marijuana use can cause cardiovascular damage. This includes damage to the heart muscle.
There’s no doubt that routine use of this drug can cause a number of health risks for people. Behavioral risks that may occur as well. For example, marijuana use can lead to an increased risk of engaging in behaviors such as driving recklessly, having unprotected sex, and using shared needles. In addition to this, it can cause increased risks of falls and accidents due to a loss of inhibitions and ability to focus properly.
How Does Marijuana Addiction Form?
Marijuana can also lead to addiction. Not all people who use this drug will become addicted. According to the CDC, studies have shown that 3 in 10 people who use marijuana will develop a marijuana use disorder and that marijuana use disorder is more likely in those who started using marijuana at a young age and in those who use it frequently.
Addiction occurs when a person is compulsively using marijuana even when they recognize that there are risks to doing so. They may want to stop using but are unable to do so. Addiction is usually preceded by dependence, which can develop with heavy and frequent marijuana use. When dependence develops, the person cannot stop using marijuana without experiencing intense cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
Marijuana withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe and may include:
- diminished appetite
- mood changes
- sleep difficulties, including insomnia
- loss of focus
- sweating, including cold sweats
- increased feelings of depression
- stomach problems
Should You Seek Help for Marijuana Addiction?
Marijuana in any form causes psychological changes due to its psychoactive component. When used on a consistent basis, this drug causes changes to the way the brain processes happiness and pleasure. The brain begins to seek out more of the drug to continue to feel good. When that happens, addiction and dependence form, making it very difficult for a person to stop using on their own.
If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, it may be time to seek out help for a marijuana addiction:
- Compulsive use of the drug, so much so that it interferes with other aspects of life
- Feeling intense cravings and withdrawal symptoms when not using
- Hiding how much is being used, even in front of others who use
- Struggling to maintain relationships and responsibilities at home, work, or school
- Thinking about or using the drug on a daily basis
- Trying to stop using and failing to do so
Look for behavioral changes, too, such as impaired coordination or distorted perceptions. Some people struggle to maintain social connections and become more isolated. They may find themselves unable to process emotions and stress without the use of the drug.
Some people are also very aggressive or anxious when they do not have access to marijuana. They may become depressed and suicidal in some cases. When this is occurring, drug treatment is critical.
Seeking drug addiction treatment for marijuana allows a person to reclaim their mental stability and protect their health. Even if you do not have all of these symptoms of addiction, getting help now means you can make better decisions about your health and future. Some people benefit from drug detox services. Others need outpatient care. Our west Texas rehab offers both of these as well as residential treatment, holistic treatments, and family programming.
Marijuana rehab can help you regain control over your health and well-being. Make the change now by calling The Ranch at Dove Tree to learn more about the treatment options we can offer to you.