If you’re concerned that you, or someone you care about, may be addicted to marijuana, you should seek advice immediately. Being aware of the signs and symptoms is extremely important. Cannabis is often mistakenly considered a non-addictive substance, as it is derived from a plant. However, it can be abused and there are harmful, long-term consequences. In this post, we discuss how to recognise signs of abuse early and take action quickly.
Cannabis, also known as marijuana, weed, and by a variety of other street names, is a psychoactive stimulant harvested from the Cannabis plant. It has been in circulation for a long time among humans for medicinal, spiritual, and recreational purposes, due to its euphoric and relaxing effects.
Marijuana is the most widely consumed illicit substance in the UK, and the entire world, having penetrated virtually every country around the globe. Its effects are numerous and have played a role in the philosophical, cultural, and human development of different societies.
Cannabis is ingested in different forms, the most typical being smoking after the leaves are dried out and ground. The drug also comes in an edible form, allowing it to be mixed with foods such as sweets and baked goods.
The main ingredient behind the mind-altering effects of marijuana is a chemical known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is just one of 500 other components present in the plant. THC travels through the bloodstream to the brain and central nervous system to induce various effects. However, it is presently used for different medical purposes, including the treatment of some symptoms of epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and other neurological illnesses.
While there are certain medicinal benefits to marijuana, addiction to the drug and other harmful effects are real. It’s important that you stay away from marijuana or seek help if you have used it to the point where you can’t control your urges. Being addicted to the substance puts you at risk of several health consequences, but it doesn’t spell the end for you, as there are effective treatment options available.
Signs of Marijuana Use, Abuse, and Addiction
There are certain signs which can serve as clear indications that a person has been consuming marijuana over a period of time, whether long or short. These signs can vary from one individual to another. The signs come in changes in behavioural traits, physical appearance and demeanour, as well as other signals.
If you’re worried that a loved one, especially a teenager, might be abusing marijuana, you should look out for signs such as bloodshot eyes, significant increase in appetite, paranoid or nervous behaviour, slowed coordination, change in friend group, the smell of cannabis in clothes and on the breath, issues with motor coordination and slowed reflexes.
While these signs are closely related to cannabis intoxication, it’s better that you’re cautious to approach them about this issue, as some of these signs can be caused by legitimate medication or simply fatigue and stress. You shouldn’t rush to conclusions but should probe further to confirm your suspicions.
If you have used marijuana for a while and realise that you can no longer cope without using the substance at least once a day, this shows that you have grown dependent on the drug. If your use has gone beyond the need for relaxation to the point of compulsiveness, it is critical that you contact a professional immediately for help.
Other signs of marijuana use, abuse, and addiction include:
Symptoms and Side Effects of Cannabis Abuse
Abusing cannabis comes with symptoms and side effects which are often dangerous and life-threatening. While short-term consequences aren’t fatal, they can be discomforting. Some of the immediate side effects of the drug have sent people to emergency rooms. Also, consuming Cannabis in large quantities in the short term can lead to health risks and can also lead you into social altercations due to your impaired sense of reasoning at the time.
Another danger involved with consuming marijuana is the risk of getting into a car accident, especially when you drive after getting high on the drug. In long-term use, the effects of using marijuana can be severely detrimental to the health, with studies connecting long-term abuse of the drug to certain mental disorders and other physical health problems. While overdose risks are virtually not present when it comes to cannabis abuse, accumulated usage of the drug is sure to cause both mental and physical issues.
Physical symptoms of marijuana abuse
The physical effects of smoking marijuana occur both in the long term and short term. These include:
Increased risk of Cancer: Marijuana smoke, according to medical research, contains over 50 carcinogens and the risk of cancer increases further when the drug is consumed alongside tobacco.
Respiratory issues: Like tobacco smoke, marijuana ingestion has effects in the body that can cause lung damage. Long-term use may cause a chronic cough and will also put the user at risk of severe lung infections.
Cardiovascular risk: Cannabis use and abuse can elevate the heart rate for a number of hours, putting you at risk of stroke or a heart attack, depending on the amount you consume and the period of consumption. If you have a pre-existing heart condition, ingesting marijuana over a long period can put you at risk of a cardiovascular issue. Old users also run the risk of these issues.
Accidents and other impacts on lifestyle: Cannabis addicts are almost always high due to their compulsive use of the drug. This can lead to auto accidents because of their impaired coordination and slow reflexes. The substance also increases appetite and causes addicts to lead sedentary lifestyles, which may result in obesity and other health effects related to binge eating. Skin composition can also be altered by smoking in the long run.
Emotional Symptoms of Cannabis Abuse
Cannabis ingestion has mental and emotional effects which can disrupt a user’s life in different ways. While proponents of the recreational use of marijuana cite different harmless properties of the drug, in truth, there are cases where mental disorders are a result of marijuana use disorder.
If you, or a loved one, are involved in cannabis use and abuse, you may enjoy the euphoria and relaxation of the drug for a while after consumption, however, the long-term psychological effects can be unpleasant.
You may begin to have difficulty carrying on with your normal social lifestyle, your relationship with others may suffer a significant breakdown, you may become lethargic towards things that interested you in the past, and there could be a general loss of motivation to carry out daily tasks.
Other psychological effects of consuming marijuana include memory impairment, severe cravings and psychological dependence, worsening of pre-existing mental health conditions such as schizophrenia and anxiety disorders, as well as slowed mental development, especially in children.
Common Signs of Cannabis Addiction
THC, which is the main acting ingredient in cannabis, travels through the bloodstream to the brain to cause neurochemical alterations which induce feelings of pleasure and euphoria in the user. When the habit of taking the drug to induce these feelings is repeated over time, the body naturally begins to get accustomed to the presence of the drug and begins to depend on it for normal function. This will lead to a compulsive need for the presence of the drug.
There are certain characteristics present in those who have become addicted to cannabis. These traits include:
- Not engaging in social events, important work, and hobbies anymore
- Loss of control when it comes to marijuana use
- Using marijuana even when knowledgeable of the severe risks involved
- Needing larger doses of marijuana to induce the same feelings over time
- Dedicating too much time and energy to cannabis use and abuse
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Marijuana Health Risks
Cannabis has numerous impacts on the health of anyone who uses the drug. The drug is very harmful to your lungs, as smoking it for a long time can lead to bronchitis, where the lung lining becomes inflamed and irritated.
You’ll increase your risk of suffering from chronic pulmonary obstructive disease (COPD) and lung cancer when you ingest cannabis alongside tobacco; and research also suggests that smoking cannabis for a long time will significantly increase your risk of falling victim to a cardiovascular disease or severely worsening a pre-existing condition.
There are other health risks associated with regular misuse of cannabis. These include mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, hallucinations, anxiety, and delusions. In people who have had mental issues in the past, marijuana can worsen these conditions. Ovulation in women and sperm production in men can also be affected by regular cannabis consumption according to the results of several different studies.
Taking cannabis over a long period takes a toll on the body and it will also force your brain to adjust to, and accept the presence of, the drug in your body. After a while, in fact, the brain will begin to rely on the drug to function properly and you’ll never feel at ease without it and, at some point, you’ll begin to experience withdrawal.
Withdrawal from cannabis is a series of uncomfortable mental and physical health symptoms that flare up whenever you stop taking the drug for a while or significantly reduce the amount you consume. These symptoms act as a deterrent for quitting even when you’re emotionally ready to stop using.
Symptoms of Cannabis Withdrawal
Withdrawal symptoms that may flare up when you stop using or reduce your intake will depend on how long you have used the drug, your consumption rate, as well as your genetic make-up. These symptoms will also vary in severity and duration. They include:
Detoxing from Cannabis
Withdrawal from cannabis can be uncomfortable and difficult — particularly in the case of chronic abuse. To go through withdrawal safely and start your journey to an addiction-free life, a medically-assisted detox programme is recommended. Through this type of detox, you’ll be assisted by medical professionals to help get rid of the toxins that are ailing your body and see you cleansed from the drug.
Cannabis Addiction Treatment & Rehab
Cannabis addiction messes with the body and causes neurological alterations in the brain. To repair this psychological damage, you have to go through treatment and rehab in a dedicated facility that will tackle your issues individually.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Helping Someone Overcome Addiction to Weed
Addicts generally go through emotional problems alongside their physical challenges due to their addiction to substances like cannabis. While some are hooked on the pleasurable effects of marijuana, others are willing to quit but can’t get themselves to face the task due to lack of help and other factors such as withdrawal. If you have a loved one going through the ordeal of cannabis addiction, please call them and let them know that you understand their situation and that there is help available. If you can’t do this on your own, you can stage an intervention with other close relatives and friends or with the help of a professional interventionist.
What causes addictions?
Addictions are caused by a range of factors which vary from person to person. Causes can be attributed to peer influence or keeping company that encourages the abuse of illicit drugs; environmental conditions where an individual is exposed to drug and alcohol misuse from a young age; the need to quell emotional tension sometimes leading to misuse of harmful substances; and in some cases, drug abuse stems from a legitimate prescription that involved drugs with high abuse potentials such as amphetamines, sleeping pills, and cannabis. Research has found that there are genetic factors linked with addiction where an individual will have a high risk of becoming an addict if they had a parent or relative that has been addicted in the past.
How addictions can affect you?
Addiction to a substance such as cannabis can impact different aspects of your life or those of your loved one. The most dangerous in the long run are serious health effects that can lead to death. You can also suffer difficulties in other areas of your life such as legal issues, financial difficulties, housing issues, a breakdown in relationships, as well as employment challenges. If you’re a parent and are abusing marijuana, this will have consequences for your children as well as other loved ones and family members close to you. It is important that you make the effort to quit as soon as you realise that your use of this substance is getting out of control.
How marijuana addiction develops?
Marijuana is known to produce pleasurable effects in users who smoke it or ingest it through other means. These effects or highs produced by the drug cause users to repeatedly take the substance which results in tolerance, dependence, and ultimately, addiction. The changes caused by the substance in the body makes the brain get used to its presence and gradually adjust to it. This will lead to dependence on cannabis to initiate the feelings of pleasure in the body. Over time, the body will begin to demand more of the substance, as the usual amount will become inadequate for maintaining the effects. When you get to this point, you’ll begin to compulsively take the drug, going to great lengths to make sure you consume over and over. At this point, you’re addicted and will need urgent professional help to break free.
Can you get addicted to weed?
While some people may deny the addictive nature of cannabis, addiction to the substance is real. Numerous studies have found that, though less addictive than some other drugs, cannabis can cause an addiction in months of using it and can also lead to dangerous health consequences. If you have misused this substance over a long period, your likelihood of staying hooked on it is high.
Withdrawal symptoms can begin to take place after a long period of cannabis addiction. While marijuana is addictive, you can also break free from this problem with proper help. A lot of people have fallen victim to cannabis addiction, but with professional assistance, they’ve been able to pick themselves up and forge a new, healthy lifestyle for themselves.
Possible effects on teens
Teenagers are a demographic that is more prone to using marijuana and is more exposed to the substance. According to research, individuals who start to use weed before they are 18 have a higher likelihood of developing a cannabis use disorder than those who begin to use the drug later in life. The effects of the substance on teens spread to different aspects of their lives, from their relationships with others to their academics and careers. Tell-tale signs of cannabis addiction in teens can be easily spotted if you pay close attention as a parent, guardian, or close relative. It’s vital that you stay on the look-out, as weed can leave the life of a teenager unmanageable if help is not provided on time.