With the growing movement to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, the drug has become increasingly accessible, and its use has become more widely accepted. Its use is particularly common among young adults, with a high percentage endorsing use.
Many members of the American medical community have acknowledged the therapeutic value of the drug, as well, but its social, health, and occupational risks remain as real as ever.
Marijuana comes from the Cannabis plant, also known as hemp. Marijuana is often smoked for the fastest delivery of its primary active ingredient, THC. The buds and leaves can also be consumed in foods or liquids. While marijuana does come from a natural plant source, this does not necessarily mean that it is safe — many illicit drugs are derived from botanical sources, but can still have harmful effects.
The American Medical Association (AMA) recognizes that medical marijuana can play a role in treating nerve pain, preventing muscle spasms, and restoring appetite in people with chronic illness. But the AMA adds that the The organization wants to ensure that as a psychoactive drug, marijuana should be subject to the same safety precautions as any other drug in its class.
In popular culture, smoking a joint is often considered no more harmful than having a beer, and many people who smoke pot enjoy the relaxing effects of the drug. In our stressful, accelerated world, marijuana can slow things down and make stress seem to melt away.
In reality, though, marijuana can interfere with motor coordination, short-term memory, and concentration. And regular marijuana smoking can damage the respiratory tract.
Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the ingredient in marijuana that fosters dependence and leads to cravings with chronic marijuana use. Cravings can be triggered through neurological changes that disrupt the brain’s reward-seeking circuitry or by psychological issues like stress.
Some susceptible users may even develop patterns of use that qualify as an addiction to marijuana, as categorized by the American Psychiatric Association’s . According to clinical guidelines, some of these signs may signal an addiction to marijuana:
Part of dependence is defined by withdrawal symptoms when a person stops using the substance. Withdrawal symptoms often resemble quite the opposite effects as those sought by using the drug in the first place, which means that if you smoke weed on a daily basis and you suddenly lose access to pot, you may start to feel angry and tense. Frequent or heavy smokers who stop using the drug may experience the following mild withdrawal symptoms:
You may know many people who smoke a joint now and then without developing any of the signs of addiction or dependence. You may even be one of these casual users yourself. But if you think there’s no danger of becoming dependent on marijuana, take a look at these statistics:
Marijuana is a sedating drug that acts on the central nervous system (CNS) to create a sense of relaxation, reduce sensations of pain, and impact several of your body’s involuntary processes.
The primary components of marijuana, THC and cannabidiol, act on the cannabinoid receptors in the brain in the following ways:
Like alcohol, marijuana can impede motor coordination and slow reaction times, making it dangerous to drive while you’re under its influence. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) points out that after alcohol, caused by impaired drivers.
In addition to altering the way you think, learn, and react to hazards, marijuana can affect the way you feel.
Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit substance, and smoking is the most popular way to use marijuana—inhalation quickly delivers THC to the brain via the lungs.
Marijuana smokers tend to inhale more deeply than tobacco smokers and release the smoke from their lungs more slowly. Regardless, marijuana smoke has been found to be significantly less carcinogenic and harmful than tobacco smoke, though this does not mean that it is safe. Research continues to explore the relationship between marijuana use and lung cancer.
Smoking marijuana on a regular basis may lead to:
Marijuana has been popular among teens for years, but a recent spike in marijuana use among young people has addiction experts worried. Statistics from Monitoring the Future, an ongoing study of youth in the United States, show that marijuana use among junior high and high school students has risen over the past few years:
Marijuana is the second most widely used substance among adolescents. During the adolescent years, the brain and body are still developing, so disruptions of this development may cause lasting effects.
There is some evidence that adolescent marijuana smoking is associated with:
It’s unclear, however, whether these associations are the result of drug use or a pre-existing condition that led to increased substance use.
Recovery requires a combination of approaches to address the physical, emotional, and psychological aspects of substance abuse. Individual counseling can help you explore the reasons you’ve come to depend on marijuana, while group therapy and drug education can provide you with valuable coping strategies for staying clean and sober.
focuses on behavioral therapy, the type of which will depend on the doctor and the user — most treatment programs will adapt their therapy to the patient’s needs.
helps clients discover for themselves what underlies their ambivalence about stopping marijuana use and engaging in treatment, with the goal of strengthening their resolve to stay clean in the long term.
is also a common therapeutic technique that helps users address their reasons for abusing marijuana as well as teaches them how to resist future use and temptations by identifying faulty or unhelpful thoughts and beliefs around their use.
allow the recovering user to stay for a predetermined amount of time at a sober facility. These programs incorporate different therapy techniques to address the client’s personal problems that may have contributed to their marijuana abuse.
are great for the recovering user who cannot afford to take time away from home or work. They allow a client to work through treatment while living at home, with check-ins a couple times a week for therapy and medical monitoring.
, but with a much bigger focus on comfort for the patients. These facilities offer many amenities to keep their patients entertained and comfortable throughout their treatment program. Because many users feel irritable after the cessation of marijuana use, a luxury program .