Marijuana Symptoms: Abuse and Addiction – Marijuana is the most commonly abused substance in the U.S. behind alcohol. It is a greenish mixture of the dried flowers of Cannabis sativa.
Marijuana abuse, while problematic, does not generally have the potential to be as destructive as the abuse of many other substances, such as alcohol. That said, use can lead to short-term mental impairments and reduced functioning in many key aspects of life.
Symptoms of marijuana abuse may include the following:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Dry eyes
- Persistent mucus-filled cough
- Rapid heartbeat
- Increased appetite
- Dry mouth
- Impaired memory
- Impaired coordination
- Slowed reaction time
- Loss of inhibition
- Lack of motivation
- Distorted perceptions
- Poor problem-solving skills
- Psychological dependence
How Is Marijuana Used?
Many people smoke marijuana in hand-rolled cigarettes or cigars called “joints” or “blunts,” respectively. It may also be smoked from water pipes (bongs) or brewed as tea. When sold or consumed for medical purposes, it is often mixed into foods such as brownies or cookies, referred to as “edibles.” Vaporizers are a newer form of consumption that has become increasingly common in the last few years.
Effects of Marijuana Abuse
Abusing marijuana can lead to short-term problems with learning, memory, mood, and social behavior. Studies have shown that marijuana’s negative impact on learning and memory can persist for weeks after the acute effects of the drug subside. As a result, a person who ingests marijuana every day may be functioning at a diminished intellectual level.
Like with other drugs, marijuana abuse can interfere with family, work, school, and other activities. And, long-term use can result in psychological dependence and addiction. Although marijuana is not believed to be chemically addictive, it can undoubtedly be habit-forming.
A person who becomes psychologically addicted will engage in compulsive drug-seeking behavior and will do so despite the incurrence of adverse consequences. Some believe that marijuana use may also be a gateway to future drug experimentation and the abuse of other, more potent substances, such as heroin, cocaine, or meth.
Furthermore, when chronic marijuana abusers try to stop using the drug, they often encounter unpleasant symptoms, which make it more challenging to quit. The desire to prevent these withdrawal symptoms, however minor, can drive many people to continue using.
Marijuana symptoms of withdrawal may include the following:
- Insomnia/sleep disturbance
- Decreased appetite
- Drug cravings
How Marijuana Affects the Brain
Marijuana’s active ingredient is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). When a person smokes marijuana, THC is transferred from the lungs into the bloodstream, which then carries the chemical to the brain. THC acts on certain receptors in the brain, inducing a cascade of reactions that ultimately lead to the desired high.
Some brain regions have many cannabinoid receptors, while others have few or none. The highest density of these receptors are found in areas of the brain associated with the following:
- Memory and critical thinking
- Sensory perception
- Time perception
Fatal overdoses related to marijuana are either extremely rare or non-existent. Nevertheless, the use of this substance, especially excessive abuse or the ingestion of cannabis with other substances, can result in unpleasant, adverse reactions.
Users have reported disturbing psychotic episodes with hallucinations and delusional beliefs. In some cases, the psychosis can last much longer than the amount of time it should take to metabolize THC out of the body.
Rarely, the chronic use of marijuana is associated with a syndrome characterized by persistent vomiting. Users who consume too many edibles, such as brownies, have also experienced upset stomach and vomiting.
Some experts believe that marijuana-related heart problems, such as heart arrhythmia, may be underreported.
Marijuana Abuse and Co-Occurring Conditions
Many people who suffer from marijuana addiction are suffering from untreated mental health conditions, such as the following:
- Addictions to other drugs
- Bipolar disorder
- Depressive disorders
- Anxiety disorders
Marijuana is also used medically for the treatment of painful physical health disorders. These conditions may be better treated using other methods of pain management that aren’t habit-forming and have less potential for adverse effects.
People who experience mental illness, pain, or both may use marijuana as a means to self-medicate. Those seeking treatment for marijuana abuse or addiction need to have these other conditions addressed concurrently in addition to their substance use disorder.
Treatment for Marijuana Abuse
Marijuana abuse and addiction are potentially serious medical conditions that require treatment by addiction specialists.
Our substance abuse treatment programs approach addiction by examining the underlying causes of the addiction process. For this reason, we are often able to identify co-occurring psychiatric and addictive disorders, behavioral addictions, or eating disorders, such as anorexia. If left untreated, these conditions are often the biggest obstacle to recovery from marijuana abuse.
Programs at Recovery in Tune evidence-based and customized to the individual’s needs, and are intended to succeed in areas in which other programs may fail. Services include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Individual and family counseling
- Peer support groups
- Health and wellness
- Substance abuse education
- Aftercare planning
If you struggle with marijuana addiction or abuse, contact us today! We can help you break free from the cycle of addiction and foster the healthy, fulfilling life you deserve!