Marijuana, also referred to as “weed,” “pot,” and “grass,” is highly addictive and has long been used as a recreational drug. Derived from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa, marijuana can be smoked, vaporized, eaten or brewed. Some of the effects of the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States are euphoria, drowsiness, relaxation, increased appetite and cognitive impairments. Marijuana contains more than 60 cannabinoids, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that is responsible for creating a high. As per the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), about 22.2 million people, aged 12 or older were current users of marijuana (i.e. users in the past month) in the U.S.
In addition to causing panic attacks and mental distress among its users, marijuana is also responsible for increasing emergency rooms visits with symptoms like anxiety, paranoia and high blood pressure. As per the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in 2010, more than 360,000 individuals were admitted for addiction treatment with marijuana being the primary drug abused. Among the people treated for marijuana addiction in 2010, 18 percent cited marijuana as their primarily abused drug and 21 percent listed it as their second or third most problematic drug.
Marijuana addiction, symptoms and effects
Marijuana is highly addictive and is debilitating for the health of a user. When taken for a longer duration, marijuana can lead to dependence, tolerance and addiction. The dependence happens when one requires marijuana even to relax. Some of the signs of marijuana dependence are the need to use the drug to cope with everyday tasks and experiencing anxiety and cravings on quitting it.
Marijuana addiction is characterized by an increased indulgence despite knowing its side effects, reducing daily life activities to get a high, and the inability to cut down its use. On developing tolerance to marijuana, a person would require an increased amount of the drug to achieve the same euphoric effects. An individual addicted to marijuana will abuse pot despite knowing its harmful consequences and will display a compulsive drug-seeking behavior. Marijuana abuse can lead to problems with learning, memory, mood and social behavior.
Marijuana addiction can have both physical and psychological symptoms. Some of the psychological symptoms of marijuana addiction are:
- Social withdrawal
- Lack of motivation
- Reduced cognitive abilities
- Depressed state
- Prolonged anxiety
Some of the physical symptoms of marijuana addiction include:
- Heart attack
- Dry mouth
- Respiratory infections
- Impaired coordination
- Red eyes
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), daily and long-term marijuana use has some addictive potential. When stopped abruptly after a prolonged use, marijuana can cause severe withdrawal symptoms. The severity of the withdrawal symptoms depends on the amount and frequency of marijuana use. Some of the withdrawal symptoms include:
- Mood swings
- Poor appetite
- Drug cravings
When abused for a longer duration, marijuana can have some serious side effects. Some of the effects of marijuana addiction include:
- Impaired memory
- Suicidal thoughts
- Increased risk for lung cancer
- Personality disturbances
- Impaired cognitive abilities
As per the NIDA, heavy marijuana use can cause academic and career problems, relationship problems and worsening of mental and physical health.
Treatment for marijuana addiction
Similar to other drugs, treatment for marijuana abuse and addiction include professional detoxification and psychotherapies. Uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms can make it difficult to break free from marijuana addiction. Therefore, it is advisable to consult a professional in reputed marijuana drug rehab centers.
A certified marijuana addiction rehab provides a host of treatment options to overcome addiction. Depending on the needs of an individual, treatment for marijuana addiction can be sought at either an inpatient or an outpatient treatment center. While an inpatient facility provides treatment in a sober environment, treatment at an outpatient facility consists of scheduled treatment sessions with the flexibility to carry on with daily life activities.
Treatment at a reputed marijuana addiction treatment center starts with medically assisted detoxification that helps in gradual removal of the drug from the system. After detoxification, marijuana addiction treatment involves psychotherapies, counseling through peer groups and recovery management to avoid any drug relapse.