What is Marijuana?

Marijuana is comprised of the leaves, flowers, stems and seeds of the Cannabis sativa plant. The mind altering or psychoactive component of Marijuana is THC. The potency of the THC has increased up to 20% over the decades since the 1960s. Many believe that marijuana is a harmless drug. First, in most states marijuana use is illegal. Second, legal use of marijuana requires a physician prescription for a medical condition. Marijuana has successfully been used to help cancer patients deal with the side effects of chemotherapy; it has also been used to ease nausea and increase a patients appetite.

Marijuana can be smoked, or used in food such as brownies or brewed as tea. The effects of marijuana are fairly quick when it is smoked, when eaten it can take up to 1 hour to be felt.

To date, marijuana is the most frequently used illegal drug in the United States. There is much controversy over the effects of marijuana and its addictive properties. While marijuana use decreased over the last decade, there has been a spike in use especially among teens that see the legalization of medical marijuana as proof of its benign qualities. Sadly, those seeking addiction treatment commonly use marijuana.

What are the Effect of Marijuana Use?

THC, thepsychoactive (mind altering) component in marijuana, attaches itself to the Cannabinoid receptors. These receptors found throughout the body, impact the sense of pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, movement, coordination and sensory perceptions. Like other illegally used drugs, responding to the THC, the brain’s receptors release dopamine which in turn stimulates the effects. And, like other illegal drugs, regular use of marijuana can alter normal brain function.

Some effects of THC on the body are:

  • Sense of Euphoria
  • Altered perceptions
  • Laughter
  • Increased appetite
  • Increased heart rate

These sensations can be followed by fatigue, sleepiness, depression, and sometimes anxiety or paranoia.

Depending upon the amount of marijuana ingested and its potency, the user can have difficulty with

  • Memory
  • Balance
  • Learning
  • Reaction time

Long term use of marijuana on the brain continues to be studied. But, there are serious questions about the negative consequences of regular marijuana on the developing brains of teens and adolescents.Furthermore, smoking marijuana places additional strain on the lungs as it contains 70% more toxins than cigarettes. People who smoke marijuana are more likely to smoke cigarettes. Regular users of marijuana can suffer from:

  • Chronic cough
  • Respiratory infections
  • Increased phlegm production

Signs and Symptoms of Marijuana Addiction

Researchers are currently examining the addictive properties of marijuana on the body. Links have been made between long-term use and mental health disorders in vulnerable individuals. Those with a gene called COMT may be susceptible to mental health disorders when use of marijuana begins in adolescence. Those who suffer from schizophrenia who smoke marijuana have shown a worsening of their condition.

People who smoke marijuana regularly can become addicted to the drug and experience:

  • Lack of motivation
  • Attention problems
  • Loss of interest in school and other productive types of work
  • Life satisfaction diminishes
  • Increased absences and lateness
  • Increase in accidents
  • Decrease in cognitive function
  • Increase risk of depression, anxiety, panic

Signs and Symptoms of Marijuana Withdrawal

Any drug, legal or illegal, taken over time will have an impact upon the brain and the body. The cessation of any drug will induce withdrawal symptoms-marijuana is no exception. The symptoms include:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Cravings
  • Mood swings
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Sweats

For many, the withdrawal symptoms are severe enough to cause a return to smoking. The need for medical support during withdrawal may be necessary.

Marijuana Detox and Treatment

To handle the discomfort of detox from marijuana, the care of an addiction physician may be required. New medications can treat marijuana withdrawal symptoms directly, addressing anxiety, sleeplessness, and cravings. Underlying mental health disorders need to be evaluated, and a strong treatment plan implemented. Without medical interventions, detox will be difficult. In most cases, the user will return to using marijuana within days or weeks of the attempt to stop using the drug.

Science has demonstrated that behavioral therapies are the most promising in treating marijuana addiction. Treatment Alternatives offersa viable alternative to those wishing to regain their life and stop the need to use marijuana. Our behavioral therapies include group and individual counseling, as well as alternative or holistic therapies. Breaking addiction can be done successfully with the right knowledge, relapse prevention skills, and life coping skills.

It is time to get high from your potential as a clean and sober human being. Drugs don’t have to rule your life and hinder your sense of enjoyment. Get the help you need. Get the best treatment available. Treatment Alternatives is dedicated to your recovery.

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