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Marijuana Addiction

Marijuana, also referred to as grass or dope, is a grey-green mixture of dried, shredded flowers and leaves of the hemp plant. Individuals use this mixture for its psychoactive and physiological effects, which include heightened mood, relaxation, and increased appetite.

Signs and Symptoms of Marijuana Addiction

Marijuana, also referred to as grass or dope, is a grey-green mixture of dried, shredded flowers and leaves of the hemp plant. Individuals use pot for its psychoactive and physiological effects, which include heightened mood, relaxation and increased appetite. The main active ingredient in pot that is responsible for the associated high is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol).There are a number of ways a person can abuse marijuana: the loose marijuana can be rolled into joints, smoked through a bong, or mixed into certain foods and eaten.

Most people who abuse marijuana combine it with other types of drugs to heighten an existing intoxication or reduce more unpleasant symptoms. Marijuana can be combined with traditional downers, such as alcohol, heroin, or opiates to increase feelings of sedation and well-being. Additionally, many people combine marijuana with stimulants such as Adderall, cocaine, or methamphetamines.

Statistics

Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States today. Over 94 million people in the United States have disclosed that they’ve used marijuana at least once. Daily marijuana usage has increased among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders. In 2010, it was estimated that 21.4% of high school seniors admitted to smoking pot in the previous 30 days. Girls and boys reported similar usage rates, with 10.1% of boys and 9.7% percent of girls between the ages of 12 and 17 reporting pot use. Approximately 17% of individuals who smoked pot before the age of 12 become addicted and are among daily users (25%-50% of daily users began smoking at a young age).

Causes and Risk Factors for Marijuana Abuse

Through years of research, it is widely recognized that addiction to drugs or alcohol is not caused by a single factor, but due to genetic, environmental, and physical factors working together. The causes for marijuana addiction may include the following:

Genetic: There is a well-established relationship that shows that people who have a first-degree relative, such as a parent or sibling, who have struggled with addiction, are at a higher risk for developing an addiction themselves.

Physical: Many times individuals will use drugs as a way to self-medicate and cope with the overwhelming symptoms of undiagnosed or untreated mental health problems. Chronic usage of drugs or alcohol can lead to changes in the structure and function of the brain, which can lead to addiction.

Environmental: People who grow up in a home in which drugs are used as a way of coping with stress learn that drugs and alcohol are the best way to deal with the challenges of life. When faced with stressful situations later in life, these individuals are more likely to turn to drugs.

Risk Factors:

  • Peer pressure
  • Untreated mental illnesses
  • Addiction potential of drug
  • High levels of stress
  • Improperly developed coping skills
  • Being male

Signs and Symptoms of Marijuana Abuse

There are a number of different signs and symptoms that occur when abusing marijuana. Symptoms of marijuana abuse will vary from person to person, based upon the length of abuse, amount abused, presence of other drugs used, and frequency of use. Some of the most common symptoms and signs of marijuana abuse include:

Behavioral Symptoms:

  • Euphoria
  • Relaxation
  • Appearing spaced-out
  • Increasingly disheveled appearance
  • Loss of interest in once-pleasurable activities
  • Changing groups of friends
  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • Decreased inhibitions
  • Legal problems
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Drug-seeking behaviors
  • Disorganization
  • Decreased occupational or scholastic achievements

Physical Symptoms:

  • Red, bloodshot eyes
  • Appearing intoxicated
  • Glassy eyes
  • Increased appetite
  • Tachycardia
  • Impaired coordination
  • Sleepiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Rapid heart rate

Cognitive Symptoms:

  • Short-term memory loss
  • Challenges in problem solving
  • Disrupted learning abilities
  • Distorted perception
  • Impaired judgment
  • Affected verbal skills
  • Slowed reaction time
  • Magical or random thinking

Psychosocial Symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Hallucinations or delusions
  • Paranoia

If you feel that you are in crisis, or are having thoughts about hurting yourself or others, please call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room immediately.

Effects of Marijuana Abuse

While most people feel that marijuana abuse is harmless, there are a number of negative consequences that can occur and include physical, emotional, and behavioral component. The long-term consequences of marijuana abuse will vary from person to person based upon length of abuse, frequency of use, personality types, and presence of other substance abuse. It is never too late to seek treatment as common effects of marijuana abuse include:

  • Job loss
  • Lung damage
  • Decreased fertility
  • Increased risks for certain types of cancer
  • Dropping out of school
  • Worsening memory loss
  • Affects mental status and can lead to schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety
  • Brain damage
  • Legal problems
  • Addiction to more heavy drugs
  • Broken and strained interpersonal relationships

Marijuana Overdose and Withdrawal Symptoms

It is very unlikely for an overdose from marijuana occurring even among habitual users; massive amounts of the drug are needed. However, there are a number of serious symptoms that can occur if used in large quantities:

  • Panic attacks
  • Extreme anxiety
  • Psychosis
  • Paranoia
  • Impaired thought process
  • Impaired coordination and perception

The effects of marijuana withdrawal are mild, but can result in a number of uncomfortable symptoms. Withdrawal effects from weed may include the following:

  • Cravings
  • Mood swings
  • Headaches
  • Changes in weight
  • Night sweats
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep disruption

Co-Occurring Disorders

There are a number of disorders that can occur with marijuana abuse and addiction. These co-occurring disorders may include:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Conduct disorder
  • OCD
  • Schizophrenia
  • Depressive disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Additional substance abuse and addiction

Marijuana Addiction

Marijuana Addiction