Since marijuana is now legal in many states, more and more people are using it medically and recreationally. People tend to assume that legality means safety, and while marijuana can have many benefits, misuse of it can lead to marijuana use disorder and addiction.
If you believe that you or a loved one might be misusing marijuana to the point that it’s interfering with your quality of life and ability to meet responsibilities, reach out for help. Twin Lakes Recovery Center in Monroe, GA, will take your concerns seriously and offer individualized assessment and 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 Risks of Using Marijuana?
Marijuana misuse can pose risks to a person’s health and life. It is not as harmless as it was once thought to be. The stronger potencies of marijuana available today creates a greater chance of the brain developing dependence on the drug.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), approximately 1 in 10 people who use marijuana will become addicted. When they start before age 18, the rate of addiction rises to 1 in 6. Younger people are more likely to become addicted because their brains have not fully developed. Areas the brain responsible for decision-making are particularly affected, making it more likely that young people will do risky things, such as engaging in unsafe sex and dangerous driving. Taking drugs like marijuana as a teenager will also “contribute to the development of adult health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and sleep disorders.”
Other negative effects of marijuana use as a young person include:
- Loss of IQ: “Marijuana can cause permanent IQ loss of as much as 8 points when people start using it at a young age. These IQ points do not come back, even after quitting marijuana.”
- Increase risk of anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts
- Psychotic episodes
- Slower reaction time while driving as well as poor coordination and concentration
- Decreased athletic performance
- Poor educational outcome
Problems associated with marijuana use among young people and adults include:
- If marijuana is used during pregnancy, it can cause a variety of problems such as premature birth, stillbirth, stunted fetal growth, and problems with fetal brain development.
- Difficulty being in a healthy relationship
- Low career goals and expectations
- Dissatisfaction with life in general
Some research shows that marijuana can be a gateway drug to other substances. Those who use marijuana frequently and are dependent on the drug are more likely to use other illicit substances and become addicted to those as well.
What are the Signs of Marijuana Addiction?
Over time, people can build up a tolerance for marijuana and need more of it in order to achieve the same effect. When it is used frequently and in high doses, the brain becomes dependent on marijuana and needs it to function. Those who are dependent on marijuana may experience withdrawal symptoms if they try to quit. Some withdrawal symptoms include:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Restlessness and irritability
- Mood swings
- Decreased appetite
- Physical discomfort
These symptoms may vary in their intensity, and not everyone will experience the same symptoms. Symptoms often are worse when first quitting marijuana and can decrease after two weeks. If you find that you are unable to stop using marijuana when you try to quit, this is an indication that you are dependent on the drug and may be addicted.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that, “Marijuana use disorder becomes addiction when the person cannot stop using the drug even though it interferes with many aspects of his or her life.”
Some signs that can indicate an addiction to marijuana include:
- Withdrawing from family or friends
- Lack of interest in hobbies or activities that were once enjoyed
- Inability to engage in conversations
- Not performing well at work
- Showing up to work late or not at all
- Failing to complete daily responsibilities
How is Marijuana Use Disorder Treated?
Many people who become addicted to this drug may not seek help until they are forced to face serious consequences, such as legal or health issues. Marijuana addiction is a substance use disorder and should be treated as such. There are a variety of treatments that can be used to successfully help those with dependency and addiction to THC. Treatments often include therapy and holistic care and can take place in residential treatment or in an intensive outpatient program, depending on the person’s specific problem and needs.
Help Is Available 24/7
If you or a loved one are experiencing signs of dependency or addiction, Twin Lakes Recovery Center can help. Our team near Atlanta offers a wide range of options such as detox services, inpatient and outpatient treatment programs, and continuing care. We also offer a special program for Veterans called Tactical Recovery. To find out more about what programs we have to offer, contact us today.