Recreational Marijuana Abuse – Marijuana, often referred to as pot or weed, is a dry, greenish mixture of stems, seeds, and flowers from the Cannabis sativa plant. Recreational marijuana abuse is very common and sometimes severe enough to warrant professional treatment.
People who use marijuana often ingest it via hand-rolled joints, water pipes, or blunts. Increasingly, it is consumed in edibles such as brownies or inhaled using a vaporizer.
THC is the active chemical in marijuana also responsible for its various effects. When marijuana is smoked, its effects onset rapidly, as THC passes through the lungs and into the bloodstream. Here, it is absorbed by bodily organs, including the brain.
Edible marijuana generally takes longer to induce effects, but once they manifest, they will last for several hours. Smoking marijuana passes far more THC into the blood than other methods of administration.
Long-term, excessive marijuana abuse can lead to addiction, a chronic disease in which a person is no longer able to control their drug use. Furthermore, they cannot quit despite adverse personal, social, health, and work-related consequences. Addiction to marijuana can result in many negative effects on one’s life, including family conflicts and poor performance at work and school.
In addition, marijuana is often referred to as a “gateway drug.” Proponents of this theory state that marijuana use normalizes and demystifies the idea of using substances. This effect can then lead to the use of harder drugs such as heroin, cocaine, or meth. Of note, whether someone who uses marijuana may indeed go on to use other drugs depends on many different factors, not just the use of cannabis itself.
Addiction is usually a life-long battle for those who suffer. The hopes and dreams once associated with life before marijuana may disappear as the user starts to believe that he or she cannot function correctly without the drug. The lives of those who are truly addicted to marijuana tend to revolve around obtaining the drug and maintaining a high.
Most addicts are unable to admit they have a problem. Many people who are dependent on marijuana rationalize and deny their condition and argue that there are far worse drugs they could be using. They may state that marijuana is not chemically addictive, and therefore, dependence on this drug is not possible.
However, regardless of marijuana’s perceived harmlessness, dependence, and addiction can develop. It is a disease characterized by compulsive use of a drug despite the consequences, which can be detrimental to one’s health and well-being. Many people require specialized treatment to overcome it.
Marijuana Addiction Statistics
In 2010, marijuana was said to be the most commonly abused illicit drug, reflecting 17 million self-reported past-month users. Furthermore, it’s estimated that 9% of people who abuse marijuana will eventually develop a dependence. That percentage increases to about 20% among those who start using the drug in adolescence.
That same year, it was reported that marijuana use accounted for 4.5 million of the estimated 7.1 million people in the U.S. dependent upon or abusing illegal drugs. In 2009, around 18% of people over the age of 12 who entered detox and rehab programs self-reported marijuana as their main drug of abuse.
6 Causes of Marijuana Addiction
Addiction is a complicated disease that is the result of many factors coming into play. Some of the factors that may affect whether a person will become dependent on or addicted to marijuana include the following:
People who grow up with parents who are addicted to marijuana or other substances are more likely than others to develop an addiction later in life.
2) Brain Chemistry
THC attaches to specific receptor sites in the brain known as cannabinoid receptors. These are densely located in regions of the brain that affect a number of essential functions, including the following:
- Sensory and time perception
People who are born with deficiencies in any part of this vast network may try to correct matters by self-medicating with marijuana.
Research suggests that the risk for addiction rises as the potency of THC in pot rises. People who start smoking weed in their teen years have a higher likelihood of developing an addiction to marijuana later on.
When the user is stoned, they may suffer from delusions and paranoia. These effects can exacerbate any psychotic symptoms or behaviors. Smoking pot to self-medicate underlying mental illnesses will likely make the symptoms worse.
6) Co-Occurring Disorders
Many people who struggle with marijuana abuse have co-occurring mental health conditions. These may include the following:
- Impulse control disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Depressive disorders
- Anxiety disorders
- Bipolar disorder
Recreational Marijuana Abuse Symptoms
Possible signs and symptoms of marijuana addiction may include the following:
- Feeling “stoned” or “high”
- Feelings of surreality
- Sense of well-being
- Slowed speech
- Intense hunger
- Dry mouth
- Impaired judgment
- Giggles and laughter
- Sporadic thoughts
- Impaired ability to sleep
- Red, bloodshot eyes
- Increased coughing and phlegm
- Increased respiratory infections
- Impaired coordination
- Impaired reaction time
- Bronchial passages relax/expand
- Irregular heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Impaired cognitive ability
- Impaired memory
- Enhanced sensory perception
- Altered time perception
- Inability to form new memories
Some effects of addiction may also include the following:
- Lung problems
- Personality disturbances
- Severe depression or anxiety
- Suicidal thoughts
- Worsened schizophrenia
Amotivational syndrome is a term that refers to a loss of desire to complete tasks and a sense of apathy about the future. It is also characterized by poor concentration and decreased interest in social and other activities.
Although a lack of motivation can be related to problems such as depression, immaturity, or learning disabilities, the most common cause of amotivational syndrome is believed to be marijuana use.
Recreational Marijuana Abuse: Withdrawal Symptoms
Marijuana dependence is associated with withdrawal symptoms, which are similar to those of nicotine withdrawal. They tend to onset within 2-3 days and peak about one week after the last use.
Withdrawal symptoms of marijuana may include the following:
- Suicidal thoughts
Some contend that marijuana does not have the potential to be chemically addictive. However, the fact that withdrawal symptoms can manifest when a chronic user tries to quit is strong evidence that this contention may be false.
Do you need help for drug abuse or addiction?
Many people falsely believe that using marijuana is not harmful. However, for those who abuse it often or even become addicted, nothing could be further from the truth.
At Recovery in Tune, we use a comprehensive addiction treatment approach that allows us to help men and women break free from addiction. We offer flexible outpatient treatment programs that feature clinically proven therapeutic services, such as psychotherapy, counseling, group support, aftercare planning, and more.
We want to know as much about you as we can, so we can provide you with an individually customized plan of care. We strive to address all our clients’ needs during their stay with us, including those related to mental health. Our goal is to treat the whole person, not just the symptoms.
Contact us today if you or someone you know is struggling with marijuana abuse. We are committed to helping clients end the cycle of addiction for life!