Marijuana is the most commonly used and abused illicit drug in society. It is also the subject of much debate over the legality and the impact of use in individuals. Many states have moved to make marijuana legal for medical reasons, while others are considering making it entirely legal in the future. What is being left out of the conversation is that marijuana is addictive. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that long-term abuse of marijuana can develop into a compulsive behavior or addiction. Their research indicates that about 9% of those who commonly use or abuse marijuana becomes addicted. This number increases among youth to 17%. Daily teen abusers have a 20-25% chance of becoming addicted. Recent studies have said that daily use of the drug has quadrupled in the United States in the past decade. (NIDA Infofacts on marijuana)
Facts on Marijuana
The chief component of marijuana is the chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). When it is smoked, the THC transfers from the lungs to the bloodstream and is distributed through the body. When THC is introduced into the brain it attaches itself to the neurotransmitters of the brain bringing on sense of euphoria. Heart rate and blood flow also increase with marijuana use. The blood vessels of the eyes expand causing the eyes to have a red appearance. Side effects of pot smoking are commonly dry mouth, hunger and thirst (commonly known as the "munchies"), and confusion.
Long term THC effects the brain, damaging the Hippocampus region. This region of the brain is responsible for the functions of learning and memory. Other areas of the brain are affected by marijuana use including reasoning functions, motor functions and reaction functions. While many of these studies have shown clear alterations to the brain, reports have stated that these results are not consistent to provide proper data. Intoxication of pot or weed can cause several distortions to perception and impair coordination, learning and memory. These effects can last for days and weeks as long as THC remains in the brain system.
Developing an Addiction
|Reported Marijuana Withdrawal Problems|
Marijuana addiction is formed when a person can no longer control the impulse of use. Like all drug addiction, it takes control of the individual's life structure, compromising all other aspects of living. When the substance is not in the system, withdrawal can be experienced and can be difficult to deal with.
Marijuana is also considered a gateway drug to far more addictive substances. People can have a harmless beginning with random use that can eventually spiral out of control. The 2009 report stated that 83% of those that admitted with marijuana as the primary substance also struggle with other drugs or alcohol.
Long-term use of Marijuana can have adverse effects on the heart, lungs and brain.
Chronic abuse of marijuana can create changes to the brain. Studies have shown an increased risk to developing mental health disorders like anxiety, depression and schizophrenia.
Use of marijuana increases the heart rate by anywhere from 20-100%. One study estimates that marijuana users have a nearly 5% greater risk of heart attack. This is attributed to increased heart rates and the effects of marijuana on heart rhythms.
Marijuana smokers can develop many of the same chronic problems that effect tobacco smokers. This can involve chronic coughing, higher risks of infections, more frequent illnesses in the lungs and phlegm.
Marijuana Recovery with a Caring Program
Like any addiction case, recovery from marijuana addiction takes considerable time and effort. Initial drug treatment is also strongly recommended from an appropriate rehab program. At Cirque, we provide that appropriate program by offering an array of therapy approaches. Outpatient drug rehab programs may offer a few types of programs. We feel that a multi-systemic approach to marijuana addiction treatment is what provides the best overall results in a rehab program. This consists of individual, group and family clinical treatments combined with the 12-step modality for recovery.
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