Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States with an estimated 104 million users stating that they’ve tried marijuana at least once in their lifetime, according to a 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health survey.
The drug, Marijuana, is typically smoked from a joint, pipe or bong, but can be baked into food and brewed in tea. It is made from the dried leaves, stems, seeds and flowers from the plant, Occasionally, it is combined in other drugs, such as crack. The active ingredient in marijuana is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) and it is responsible for the effects that users experience after smoking or ingesting it. Commonly referred to as Weed, Mary Jane, Ganja, Kush, Ganja, Smoke, Midgi, Mary, Pot and Dope, there has been an increase in use. This increase has been due to the ongoing legislation under medicinal purpose laws and dispensaries opening up across the nation that have allowed easier access but still disregard the effects such ease of use may be causing.
The short-term effects of marijuana addiction and abuse are diverse and they may affect users differently, but they include loss of coordination, increased heart rate, distorted perception, anxiety and problems with problem solving and memory. Long-term effects include increased memory problems and a decrease in learning ability. Studies have also shown a link to mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression and schizophrenia, and long-term use of marijuana, though it is not understood whether the drug causes the problems or exacerbates existing conditions.
Pot not only causes mental side effects, it can also do severe damage to the heart and the lungs as well. Due to the increase in heart rate that marijuana users experience, a heart attack is 4.8 more likely in the first hour after using Marijuana. Additionally, for users who smoke the drug, the risk for respiratory illnesses is similar to that of tobacco smokers. In fact, marijuana smoke contains 50-70% more carcinogenic elements than tobacco smoke and since pot smokers tend to inhale more deeply and hold their breath, the damage the smoke can do is compounded.
Though it is commonly believed that marijuana is not an addictive drug, long-term use can lead to a chemical dependence and addiction to the drug. Research estimates put the portion of marijuana users that are addicted at around nine percent of all users. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in 2007, 15.8% of all users admitted to treatment centers were seeking help for addiction to marijuana.
Users who are attempting to break the addiction cycle frequently report insomnia, irritability, anxiety, decreased appetite and drug craving. The detoxification period typically takes around one to two weeks.
If you or someone you love is struggling with a marijuana addiction, we can help. The staff at Challenges Addiction Treatment Center is professional, passionate and caring. We’re one of the oldest addiction treatment and relapse prevention centers in the State of Florida and the United States. Challenges provides the support and assistance necessary to back that up. Our goal is to provide clients with the tools they need to help them recognize their particular warning signs and trigger mechanisms so that they can look forward to a sober way of life, one day at a time.