Due to its rapid legalization in the United States, many mistakenly believe that marijuana use is completely safe. Unfortunately this puts many people at risk for developing dangerous addictions, either to marijuana itself, or to other “harder” substances. Although marijuana is admittedly not as physically addictive as other substances, it does carry a risk for serious psychological addiction and pose some major health risks.
It is common for young men to develop a marijuana addiction in their teenage of college years, as weed is more easily attainable when compared to alcohol for underage users. It also used to help young men manage stress and cope with social anxiety during these formative years.
Effects of Marijuana on the Mind and Body
Marijuana affects the cannabinoid receptors in the brain that influences pleasure, as well as sensory and time perception. Those receptors also affect thinking, concentration, and memory, which is part of the concern of widespread marijuana use. Some studies now suggest damage to the brain that occurs with marijuana use could be long-lasting or even permanent, especially when use begins at a relatively young age. Since individuals under the age of 25 don’t have fully developed brains, drugs like marijuana can affect them particularly strongly.
Other effects of marijuana include:
- Impaired motor function
- Poor reaction time, impaired judgment
- Increased heart rate, which can raise the risk of heart attack
- Respiratory issues if the drug is smoked
- Anxiety and panic
- Increases appetite, craving for snacks
The long-term effects of marijuana can become even more problematic. Those effects might include lung damage and diseases similar to what occurs with cigarette smoking. Marijuana can also suppress the immune system, leading to a higher risk of illness. The drug can also impair sexual function and lead to intense mood and personality changes.
Signs of a Marijuana Addiction
It is a common misperception that you can’t develop a marijuana addiction. While this drug may not be as addictive as other drugs, people can certainly get hooked on it. It’s also important to note that most people don’t develop a physical addiction to this drug, but a psychological one. Men who regularly use marijuana may begin to feel like the only way they can feel normal is to use the drug. The risk is even higher in those that start using the drug at a younger age. Marijuana is also a potential gateway to other drugs, which means people that use marijuana may eventually turn to other substances that have a higher addiction risk.
There are a few ways you might recognize that a loved one has a marijuana addiction. First, you may begin to find drug paraphernalia around the house. For marijuana users, this can include a number of different things, since there are different ways to use the drug. Cigarette rolling papers are common for those who prefer to smoke joints. You may also find glass pipes or smoking apparatuses lined with tinfoil. Other signs that someone has a marijuana addiction include diminished motivation, pulling away from friends and family, and sleeping frequently.
Our supportive staff and treatment program counselors can help you recognize the signs of marijuana addiction. If you or someone you love is struggling with marijuana addiction, please do not wait to get help. Contact Any Length Retreat today, free of charge, no commitment. Let’s just talk. Our help is only one decision away.
New Research About Marijuana Addiction
Research from the CDC clearly states that long term Marijuana use can lead to addiction, with approximately 9% of those who experiment with pot becoming addicted in the long term, either to marijuana itself, or other illicit substances.
The CDC also reports that “the number goes up to about 1 in 6 among those who start using marijuana as teenagers and to 25% to 50% among those who smoke marijuana daily”.
If someone becomes addicted, it means they meet the criteria for dependence outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This may be more common than you’d think, as the CDC states, “in 2016 around 4 million people, or 1.5% percent of the population, had a marijuana use disorder in the past year.”
Despite the notoriously giggly effects of the plant, the problems associated with a Marijuana use disorder are no laughing matter. The CDC says Marijuana use disorder (amazingly, MUD for short) includes health problems; persistent or increasing use; and failure to meet major responsibilities at work, school, or home.
And worst of all, studies show how difficult it can be to finally stop an addiction that does not necessarily threaten your life, but rather threatens to slowly, subtly limit you and prevent you from being your best self.
To top it off, research from the CDC shows strong evidence that Marijuana can keep your brain primed for addiction, while simultaneously threatening to become a highly detrimental addiction in itself.
*Any Length Retreat is a supportive, educational recovery program and community. It is not a substitute for psychotherapy, clinical or medical treatment for substance use disorders or mental health disorders.