Marijuana Misuse, Effects and Treatment

There is a common misconception that marijuana is safe and non-addictive. However, like alcohol, opioids, and other drugs of abuse, marijuana use can be reinforcing and may lead to compulsive use.
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What Is Marijuana and How Is it Used?

What Is Marijuana (Cannabis)?

Marijuana is made from the plant Cannabis sativa, also known as the hemp plant or cannabis plant. The leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds of the plant can be smoked, brewed as tea, or mixed into food referred to as “edibles.”1

Marijuana contains a chemical known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. This is the mind-altering drug that causes the “high” felt after consuming marijuana.1 The amount of THC present varies between different strains of marijuana and between the types of marijuana products available.

Ways Marijuana Is Used

There are multiple ways marijuana is used. Smoking of marijuana is a popular method of consumption; users smoke the shredded leaves and flowers, or smoke extracts made from the plant, such as oil or wax.1

Users can inhale marijuana smoke in the following forms:1,6

  • Joints (hand-rolled cigarettes)
  • Pipes or bongs (water pipes)
  • Blunts (emptied cigarettes refilled with marijuana)
  • Dabs, shatter, honeycomb, oil or wax (smoking of THC-dense resin using a vaporizer)

Food products that contain marijuana are referred to as marijuana edibles and are a common method of consumption. Marijuana edibles come in many forms, including cookies, brownies, and soft (gummies) and hard candy.1

Rates of Marijuana Use

Marijuana is the most commonly used drug in the U.S.—after alcohol—with more than 43.5 million Americans 12 or older used it in the past year, according to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.2,3

Rates of marijuana use among adolescents and young adults have been rising until recent years when use rates stabilized and have mostly held steady since.3 In 2019, there was a significant increase in daily use of marijuana by 8th and 10th in the younger grades.4

Although several states have legalized the medicinal and/or recreational use of marijuana, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) still considers marijuana a Schedule 1 substance, and it’s illegal at the federal level.

What Are the Effects of Marijuana?

Effects of Marijuana

Marijuana can cause many different effects on the brain and body of the user, in addition to the “high”—a pleasant euphoria and sense of relaxation—that many users seek.7 There are no reports of anybody dying while on marijuana alone, but it is possible to ingest enough to make the user feel very sick and uncomfortable.7

The effects of marijuana use are not usually dangerous, although in rare cases users can have an extreme psychotic reaction (including delusions and hallucinations) that will lead them to seek emergency medical treatment.7

The strength of the effects felt after consuming marijuana depends on the amount of THC present in the product used. The THC potency of marijuana has increased noticeably over the last few decades, rising from 3.8% in the early 1990s to 12.2% in 2014.8

Marijuana Extracts

Marijuana extracts have a much higher THC content than any other product, which can range from 50% to 80%.8 It is not yet known what the consequences are, however, there are reports of high levels of THC causing or exacerbating psychosis and the risk for violent behaviors linked to cannabis-associated psychosis.

Marijuana Edibles

Effects of marijuana are felt immediately if smoking the product.7 Marijuana edibles delay the effects of the drug by about 30 minutes to an hour.7 Less THC is delivered into the bloodstream by consuming marijuana edibles, as compared to smoking.7

This delay can lead to dangerous results, as the person consuming the edible product may consume more than recommended and become ill.7 Effects also last longer; smoking produces effects for 1-3 hours, while the effects of marijuana edibles may be felt for several hours.7

Marijuana Effects on the Mind

THC enters the bloodstream and is carried to the brain almost instantly. Common short-term effects of marijuana on the mind and brain include:7

  • Impaired judgment and thinking.
  • Impaired memory.
  • Feelings of euphoria.
  • Altered senses or experience of time.
  • Feeling tired or relaxed.

Adverse marijuana side effects experienced after use of the drug are not usually severe enough to require medical attention.7 Symptoms usually subside on their own, a few minutes or hours after use.7 In severe cases, benzodiazepines may be administered by a healthcare professional to alleviate panic or paranoia.10

Long-term effects of marijuana has been linked to mental illness in some people. This includes temporary hallucinations and/or paranoia or worsening symptoms in patients with schizophrenia.11

Marijuana Effects on the Body

Within a few minutes after smoking marijuana, a person’s pulse speeds up, breathing passages relax and become enlarged, and the blood vessels in the eyes expand resulting in red, bloodshot-looking eyes.12

There’s some evidence that regular marijuana use can cause or complicate long-term health issues.13,14 These can include:13,14

  • Respiratory problems and infection.
  • Exacerbating symptoms of chronic bronchitis.
  • Permanently impaired memory.
  • Exposure to cancer-causing carcinogens.

Regular use of marijuana has also been associated with cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, a condition of uncontrollable cyclic vomiting over a 24-48-hour period.15

Is Marijuana Addictive?

What Is Cannabis Use Disorder?

Problematic marijuana use can result in marijuana use disorder. In severe cases, marijuana use disorder can take the form of marijuana addiction.16

It’s estimated that about 30% of marijuana users have some degree of marijuana use disorder, and people who begin using before the age of 18 are 4–7 times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder than adults.16

Treatment for Marijuana Misuse

Marijuana misuse and marijuana addiction can be successfully treated, similar to any other drug use disorder. For many, the first step is a marijuana detox. Once detox is complete, there are several options for continued addiction treatment in Texas. Greenhouse Treatment Center offers multiple addiction treatment levels including outpatient and inpatient addiction treatment near Dallas.

If you or someone you love is struggling with the devastating effects of addiction and are unsure of where to turn, call us at . Admissions navigators are ready to help you get admitted today.

Contact us to learn more about addiction treatment in Texas, using insurance to pay for rehab, and other ways to cover the cost of treatment. Please don’t wait to get the marijuana addiction treatment you deserve.

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