If you are beginning to think you are addicted to marijuana, you’re not alone. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that approximately 3 in 10 people who use marijuana have marijuana use disorder. In addition, people who began using marijuana before age 18 have a higher risk of developing marijuana use disorder. Learning more about the effects of marijuana can help you become familiar with the drug and spot whether addiction has taken form in your life or a loved one’s.
What Is Marijuana?
Marijuana has many names including weed, herb, pot, bud, Mary Jane, cannabis, etc. Marijuana can be smoked in hand-rolled cigarettes known as joints, in pipes, water pipes (bongs), or in blunts (rolled in cigar wraps). It can also be consumed through foods, tea, and vaporizers. The main mind-altering or psychoactive chemical in marijuana is called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This chemical produces an intoxicating effect and is found in the resin of leaves and buds—typically from the female cannabis plant.
What Does Marijuana Do to Your Brain
Marijuana has varying effects on individuals who use it. These effects can be broken down into short-term and long-term.
Short-Term Marijuana Effects
Marijuana affects brain function and in the short-term, will affect parts of the brain responsible for memory, attention, decision-making, coordination, reaction time, and emotions. Other short-term effects may include a pleasant euphoria, sense of relaxation, altered perception, increased appetite, and heightened sensory perception.
Long-Term Marijuana Effects
As for long-term effects, scientists are still learning about the impacts of marijuana on developing brains. What has been determined is that developing brains such as those of babies, children, and teenagers are susceptible to the harmful effects of marijuana. This is especially true for individuals who use marijuana before the age of 18, as they are four to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder than adults according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
Further long-term effects can result in respiratory difficulties, testicular cancer, trouble with memory and impulse control, schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety. In recent years, marijuana has had a higher potency. The average THC content in marijuana 20 years ago was less than 4%. However, in 2018 it was over 15%. As a result, knowledge of the full effects higher concentrations of THC can have on the body and developing brain are not fully understood.
Marijuana Addiction Signs
Marijuana addiction or cannabis use disorder (CUD) is a diagnosis for mild, moderate, or severe marijuana users. The following 11 symptoms are from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5). A person must exhibit at least two of the 11 symptoms within the same 12-month period to be diagnosed with CUD. The symptoms are outlined as follows:
- Loss of control: using more marijuana/using it for a longer period of time than intended
- Social impairments: not engaging in important work, social activities, or hobbies because of marijuana use
- Inability to stop: having the desire to quit or reduce usage but being unable to do so
- Ignoring risks: continual use of marijuana despite dangers that arise from it
- Cravings: experiencing an urge to use marijuana when not using it
- Frustration of existing issues: continual usage even though marijuana is worsening an existing physical or psychological problem
- Troubles in main areas of life: due to marijuana use, the individual is unable to perform to one’s familiar standard at home, work, or school
- Tolerance building: Over time, need more marijuana in order to get desired effect
- Disregarding problems caused by use: despite negative impact marijuana use is having on relationships, the individual continues to use the drug
- Withdrawal: when not taking familiar amounts of marijuana or when stopping use, emergence of withdrawal symptoms
- Disproportionate focus: dedicating too much time and resources to marijuana use
How to Seek Help for Marijuana Addiction
If you or a loved one is exhibiting signs of marijuana addiction, know that you can take the steps to regain your independence. Marijuana use disorder is a psychological dependency that can be difficult to overcome, but not impossible.
Here at The Carter Treatment Center, we show compassion to our patients and their families. Addiction can be overwhelming to face alone, and we can be here to help. We offer cognitive behavioral therapy treatment to restructure thought patterns to help our patients heal and defeat their dependency on substances. Our treatment center has several treatment programs dedicated to helping patients on their unique journeys to recovery.
Let us help you start your journey!
Call today at (678) 737-4430 or fill out our online form to start your path to recovery.