An addiction to Marijuana can happen if the drug is abused, and there is help out there for anyone suffering from a Pot addiction.

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An Overview of Marijuana Abuse and Effects

Marijuana is one of the most widely used substances in the United States. A study on marijuana dependence and treatment showed that not only is it the most common illicit substance, but that many people have had a dependence on marijuana for more than 10 years. As marijuana addiction becomes more prevalent, more studies have shown that its dependence is not unlike other illicit substances, and this drug does cause harm. If you have an addiction to marijuana or know someone who does, there are various ways to recognize the signs and symptoms of this dependence, and treatment is available.

Use and Misuse of Marijuana

As a few states approve marijuana for legalization, many have reconsidered their stance on the issue.  Marijuana also goes by the name of pot, grass, weed, herb, grass and Mary Jane. However, cannabis sativa is the actual name of the plant. Most marijuana users smoke marijuana from cigarettes called joints or blunts. Pipes, water pipes and bongs are also used to smoke marijuana. It can be ingested through food and drink substances as well. While many states have legislation providing for medicinal marijuana use to treat illnesses like glaucoma and cancer, marijuana is also a recreational drug that has some potentially dangerous side effects.

Signs and Symptoms of Marijuana Abuse

There are some very noticeable signs when someone is using marijuana. In some cases these signs are negative, and in others, they are quite positive. When abused, these problems can compound on one another to create further issues. Those who are fearful of addiction or who know someone who might be addicted can look for these signs and symptoms:

  • Louder than usual talking or laughter
  • Sleepy or lethargic behavior
  • No concentration or focus
  • Sudden forgetfulness
  • Red or inflamed eyes
  • Burnt rope smell on clothes and skin
  • Distorted sense of reality and time
  • Food craving and increased appetite
  • Possession of pipes, rolling papers, bongs and other paraphernalia

The symptoms of a negative marijuana abuse can be severe. There are significant attention and sleep problems associated with marijuana addiction. These are some other symptoms to watch out for:

  • Higher tolerance resulting in more frequent use or higher potency of marijuana
  • Withdrawal symptoms (irritation, anxiety, stress and depression)
  • Do-anything attitude to acquire marijuana
  • Lack of involvement in relationships
  • Low productivity
  • Memory problems
  • Weight gain
  • Anxious or panicked feelings
  • Lack of body or time awareness
  • Depression

Since marijuana affects parts of the brain, it can lead to a higher creativity, but in others, it may promote low energy levels and low self-esteem.

How Marijuana Addiction Affects the Brain

Most marijuana users inhale the smoke, which speeds up the heart and enlarges the bronchial passages in the lungs. Blood vessels in the eyes expand, which causes the inflamed redness. Heart rates typically shoot up to 90 beats per minute or more.

The active ingredient in marijuana is THC, which is responsible for many of these effects. Once it enters the bloodstream through a person’s lungs, the chemical travels through the rest of the body including the brain.

The brain feels a sense of blissful high due to the THC stimulating brain cells to release dopamine. As dopamine releases, marijuana users feel relaxed and euphoric. Some users also experience a heightened sense of reality while others feel more lethargic and sleepy. The chemical also causes increase in appetite and a lack of time perception.

Many activities become dangerous after a person smokes marijuana. For example, driving is a complicated task that requires a lot of focus and awareness, but marijuana users may have a harder time paying attention to the flow of traffic, signals, signs and pedestrians while driving.

There are different strains of marijuana that will have stronger effects because of a higher potency. This is directly related to the amount of THC. Since the 1970s, the amount of THC in marijuana has steadily increased.

Marijuana is thought to be a gateway drug because users become less satisfied by the high that they get from THC and may also fall into depression when not receiving adequate dopamine levels every day from marijuana use.

Treatment for Marijuana Abuse

In many cases, marijuana users don’t believe that they have a problem because the effects seem so mild. However, if untreated, prolonged marijuana use has been shown to have serious problems on mood, productivity and overall health. People often feel less motivated to participate in school or employment, and they may suffer financially by purchasing higher and higher amounts of marijuana to get high. When marijuana addiction begins to affect someone’s life adversely, treatment may be the answer.

There are a few ways to treat marijuana addiction. Many opt for elective outpatient treatment, which means going to meetings, seeing a therapist and treating behavioral problems while still attending school or going to work and living at home. This method isn’t as effective as other types of treatment because it’s harder for addicts to ignore triggers and social circles based around marijuana use.

Inpatient treatment is more effective in treating marijuana addiction because they provide detox, group therapy, activities, behavioral therapy and counseling in a safe, comfortable facility. In-patient treatment is voluntary, which means that a person can elect to go to or leave at any time even when they are ordered to receive treatment by the court.

Currently there aren’t any medications that have proven effective for marijuana abuse. The most effective treatments focus on recognizing addiction, understanding triggers and modifying behavior to heal from marijuana addiction.

As many states move legislation forward to legalize marijuana, addiction rates will likely go up among teenagers and adults. Currently the average age of a marijuana addict is under the age of 25. With shops legally selling this substance, older users may become prominent.

If you know someone who is currently addicted to marijuana or you want to seek help for addiction, you should seek the help of a professional in-patient rehabilitation center. They can provide you with all the resources you need for recovery.

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