Marijuana is known by various names, including pot, weed, bud, Mary Jane, ganja, and many other street names. It is the dried flower of the Cannabis sativa plant, which contains delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a psychoactive chemical that alters the mind. THC can also be concentrated for consumption in the form of hash oil or hashish resin.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 147 million people, or 2.5% of the global population consume marijuana annually. In the United States, it is the most consumed illicit drug.
The drug is mostly smoked or vaped. However, it can also be made into tea or food. It is becoming increasingly popular now that many states in the country have legalized it for medical and recreational purposes.
Although it is often seen as a harmless drug, chronic use can cause major problems in someone’s life. Like other drugs, marijuana can create compulsive patterns and continued use despite the negative consequences. Its misuse can lead to a diminished quality of life and health status.
Why Seek Help From a Marijuana Addiction Hotline?
People who are addicted to marijuana can find help from an addiction hotline. It is a free service that provides confidential assistance and referrals to treatment resources especially aimed at various types of substance use disorders.
By contacting a marijuana hotline, you are able to start your journey to a healthier life. People who reach out feel supported by professionals who know exactly how to help someone get their lives back on track.
How Marijuana Addiction Affects You
When you consume marijuana, THC reaches the bloodstream. It happens very quickly when smoked as it penetrates the lungs and rapidly travels to your brain and other organs throughout your body. It occurs at a slower rate when consumed as a food or drink.
No matter in what form THC is consumed, it targets the cannabinoid receptors of your brain cells. Your body naturally produces THC-like chemicals that activate these receptors. It is a normal part of your endocannabinoid system, which is a neural communication network. This system plays an essential role in your natural brain function and development.
The areas of your brain that contain the highest quantity of cannabinoid receptors include those responsible for memory, pleasure, concentration, thinking, time perception, sensory, and motor coordination. When you use marijuana, it causes a hyper-activation of your endocannabinoid system, which is what translates into feeling “high.”
Marijuana use can cause the following effects:
- Changes in mood and perceptions
- Loss of normal motor coordination
- Decreased cognitive abilities, including problem-solving and thinking
- Diminished memory and learning
- Increased appetite
Risk for Addiction and Negative Life Consequences
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that one in 10 marijuana users become addicted to the substance. This rate increases to one in six when a person starts usage before reaching 18 years of age. The research concludes that excessive use of marijuana can create or worsen problems in your daily life.
Users who excessively consume the substance report decreased overall satisfaction with life, decreased mental and physical health, increased challenges in their career and financial lives, and increased disharmony in their social lives. Many workplace studies have concluded that marijuana users are more likely to be absent from work and have a higher job turnover than non-users.
Marijuana During Pregnancy
Marijuana use can be dangerous for pregnant women and their developing fetus. SAMHSA reports that the drug is the most prevalent among pregnant women in the United States. Avoiding marijuana during pregnancy and the breastfeeding phase can help both mother and baby avoid dangerous health conditions.
Using marijuana during pregnancy can lead to the following:
- Fetal growth restriction
- Increased risk for stillbirth
- Preterm birth
- Low birth weight
- Long-term issues with brain development and function
What Are the Acute Effects of Marijuana Consumption?
Both recent and older studies on cannabis confirm the effects it has on the body. The acute effects include the following items.
Impairment of Cognitive Development and Function
When cannabis is consumed, it impairs your ability to learn, process, and retain information, including associative processes. This also applies to learning impairment experienced when consumed during both the learning and recall phases.
Marijuana’s effect on executive cognitive functions has been debated. However, studies have shown that marijuana impairs cognitive function on several levels, including basic motor coordination and complex cognitive tasks. It affects your ability to organize, plan, make decisions, solve problems, and control emotions, and it alters your behavior.
Interestingly, the severity of these deficits varies depending on the frequency of use, age of initial consumption, quantity, and duration of use. People who have impaired cognitive function have problems learning and applying recovery skills, which makes them more susceptible to relapsing. It also causes them to have trouble reaching complete long-term rehabilitation.
Impairment of Psychomotor Skills
Marijuana significantly impairs your psychomotor performance, as displayed in a broad range of tasks such as operative movements, divided attention, eye-hand motor coordination, visual perception, and speed of reflexes. Even smoking as little as 20 mg of THC can cause poor psychomotor performance 24 hours after use. This can translate into an increased risk of accidents.
Decreased Attention and Concentration
The long-term results of marijuana on concentration and attention, including basic skills in information processing and higher-level cognitive abilities, are not fully known. However, there is a concern that life-altering effects are possible.
Risk-Taking and Decision-Making
Studies that heavy marijuana users are more likely to have condomless sex. This is especially true when alcohol is added to the mix.
The evidence confirms that subjects who consumed cannabis for long periods experienced difficulty completing cognitive-executive control tasks that rely on various functional systems centralized in the prefrontal cortex. Areas of the brain affected include those responsible for behavior, emotional control, and cognitive abilities. Inhibition, apathy, and other abilities were impaired. The specific clinical symptoms must be addressed during the rehabilitation process.
Marijuana addiction is characterized by a loss of control over its use and is more likely to occur among chronic users. According to a report published by the CDC, approximately 10% of marijuana users become dependent on the substance. In addition, about 30% of users reach the criteria for addiction.
Respiratory Health Conditions
Another negative effect of long-term cannabis use is seen in the respiratory system. This applies mostly to people who smoke the substance. Many suffer from epithelial injury of the major bronchi as well as the trachea. Also, chronic users may experience injury to their airways, inflammation of the respiratory tract, including the lungs, lowered pulmonary immunity, symptoms of bronchitis, lowered breathing capacity, excessive phlegm, nasal congestion, persistent cough, and many other symptoms.
If left untreated, people can develop life-threatening chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Mental Health Risks
Together with diminished physical abilities, cannabis use disorder can also greatly affect one’s mental health. Various studies connect chronic marijuana use to mental health conditions. Even acute use in high doses can cause a temporary psychotic reaction in some people.
Marijuana use can also exacerbate the course of a mental illness such as schizophrenia. Excessive use has furthermore been linked to the development of psychosis. The following are some mental health issues associated with marijuana use:
- Personality alterations
- Suicidal thoughts, especially among adolescents
- Lack of motivation
- Infant neurobehavioral symptoms (when used while pregnant)
Mental health is not only affected by the physical presence of the substance in the body but also by the ongoing challenges that excessive use poses in one’s life. Sometimes, people are not physically addicted to marijuana but are emotionally dependent on it. Thus, a holistic approach to treatment is necessary to uncover both the physical and mental dependency on the substance.
What Treatment Options Are Available for Cannabis Use Disorder?
The National Institute of Health has provided a comprehensive report on the various forms of therapies available to treat cannabis use disorder.
Although marijuana use disorder seems to be less severe compared to the clinical outcomes of other use disorders, it still shares some similarities. The average client that seeks treatment for marijuana use disorder has a history of excessive consumption lasting more than 10 years. In addition, they have attempted to quit at least six or more times.
Those who seek treatment often also suffer from psychiatric disorders and are addicted to other substances, such as alcohol or cocaine. Studies indicate that effective treatment of mental health disorders, along with the standard treatment involving behavioral therapies and medications, helps decrease marijuana use. This is particularly true among heavy users and those who also present with chronic mental disorders.
Effective Behavioral Treatments
There are several types of behavioral therapies available depending on the client’s unique needs. A professional assessment is necessary to select the best plan of care. Successful behavioral therapies include the following practices.
This form of psychotherapy assists clients in gaining strategies to identify and modify harmful behaviors. It helps people achieve self-control, discontinue marijuana use, and correct a range of issues that frequently occur with the addiction.
As a helpful therapeutic approach, contingency management is based on the constant monitoring of one’s target behavior. Moreover, it assists in the removal of tangible rewards when the target behavior occurs or does not occur.
Motivational Enhancement Therapy
This systematic intervention approach is used to illicit a quick, inner-driven modification in behavior. It is a type of therapy that does not target the treatment of the person. Instead, it puts into motion the person’s innate resources to produce a behavioral change and commitment to treatment.
In addition to behavioral treatments, some clients may also need to incorporate pharmaceutical therapies in their recovery process. Although the FDA has not approved medications for marijuana use disorder, there is plenty of active research studying this approach.
One of the common symptoms of marijuana withdrawal is sleeping problems. Chronic marijuana users often use the substance to relax and help them fall asleep. Thus, when use is discontinued, it’s likely that the person will experience trouble sleeping. Medications such as sleeping aids are sometimes incorporated into rehab.
What to Expect When Contacting the Marijuana Hotline
Most clients experience a huge relief when contacting the marijuana addiction hotline for the first time. They are able to receive compassionate and knowledgeable assistance to start their recovery from the substance. Professionals are available to help you:
- Gain an understanding of your unique case, challenges, and needs
- Teach you all you want to know about marijuana use disorder
- Provide treatment options
- Help you access resources about various types of addictions
Connecting to the marijuana hotline is a courageous first step toward recovery. You will be guided by a caring navigator who will assist you in finding the best treatment center for your case, and that can provide you with a customized care plan to meet your unique needs.
Call the marijuana addiction hotline today at 866-210-1303 to start your journey to a healthy and fulfilling life.