While there are many individuals who feel that marijuana isn’t addictive, the National Institute on Drug Abuse explained that 30 percent of individuals who use marijuana have a marijuana use disorder. In addition, those who begin to use the drug before the age of 18 years old are up to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder as opposed to those who begin using the drug in adulthood.
Marijuana contains THC, which is a psychoactive substance, that alters an individual’s perception. The effects of TCH can be almost immediate and last for several hours. Some effects of marijuana may include:
An increase in appetite;
Feelings of happiness;
Although it is nearly impossible to overdose on marijuana, the drug has the second highest rate for emergency room visits (after cocaine). The majority of the emergency room visits were caused by accidents that happened when individuals were under the influence of marijuana.
Individuals can develop a mental dependence of the drug, and a marijuana addiction can be clinically diagnosed at a substance abuse treatment facility. While the psychological effects of extended marijuana abuse are not fully understood, there has been research that suggested a marijuana addiction can lead to a co-occurring disorder. This is when an individual has an addiction and another mental health problem, such as anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia.
Other long-term effects of repeated marijuana use include:
Learning and memory impairment;
Possible loss of IQ;
Increased risk of using other drugs;
Increased risk of bronchitis or a chronic cough.
Many individuals who use marijuana for an extended period of time will go through withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit. The symptoms that can arise after an individual stops using marijuana are similar to nicotine withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms may include anxiety, a reduced appetite, problems sleeping, and other forms of physical discomfort. When an individual stops taking marijuana, withdrawal symptoms typically peak within two days. Most symptoms will subside in about two weeks after marijuana use stops.
Although the withdrawal symptoms typically don’t pose a risk to an individual’s health, they can make it hard for an individual to stop using on his or her own. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported there are numerous ways to help individuals overcome a marijuana addiction, which may include:
Cognitive behavioral therapy;
Motivational enhancement therapy;