Marijuana

Dried leaves and flowers

Defining Marijuana

Marijuana (also known as weed, pot, grass, trees, Mary Jane, reefer, etc.), is the most widely used illicit drug in the United States. Derived from the cannabis plant, and typically sold as a dried plant bud, marijuana may be available in other forms like oils, extracts, and resins.

The chemical in marijuana responsible for the high, Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, acts on cannabinoid receptors in the brain. The THC in marijuana can cause effects for as little as a few minutes or as long as 8 hours depending on how the marijuana was taken and how much THC was consumed. Marijuana is usually inhaled through paraphernalia like pipes or vaporized. It can also be ingested orally; marijuana extract is sometimes used in baked goods to get high.

There is evidence supporting medical use of marijuana and some states have legalized its use for conditions such as glaucoma, cancer, and HIV-related weight loss. However, studies show negative long-term effects from using this drug.

Side Effects of Marijuana

Short-Term

  • Increased pleasure
  • Impaired balance and coordination
  • Difficulty thinking
  • increased appetite (known as “the munchies”)
  • Distorted perception
  • Panic attacks
  • Paranoia

Long-Term

  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Anger

Addiction and Overdose

As many as 1 in every 10 marijuana users become addicted to marijuana, and heavy users are at much greater risk for addiction. Addiction to marijuana occurs when users become hooked on the drug’s effects on the body to the point in which their lives revolve around using marijuana and they cannot function without it. People suffering from marijuana addiction look to maintain the feelings of euphoria experienced during a high. Addiction may lead to dependency on the marijuana as well as withdrawal symptoms of marijuana, which may include:

  • Intense drug craving
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea

While there have been no credible reports of anyone overdosing from marijuana, it is important to take precautions so that addiction and drug dependency does not develop.

Treatment

There is no medication yet to treat marijuana dependence. Addiction to marijuana is treated similarly to addictive substances like tobacco. If marijuana use is impacting your social life, your professional life, or school work, it is essential that you get help with your addiction. Treatment facilities have highly trained staff and medical professionals specializing in behavioral and cognitive methods to aid in recovery. Only 50% of those with a marijuana addiction will achieve abstinence for 2 weeks, so monitoring by professionals in a treatment facility is vital.

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