Marijuana is generally available as a greenish-gray mixture of the dried parts of the Cannabis plant (leaves, stems, and flowers). There are three types of Cannabis plants (sativa, indica, and ruderalis). Advancing cultivation techniques have added other colors to the various strains of Cannabis, including purple and red. Regardless of the plant or how it’s produced, the drug’s euphoric quality can easily lead to a marijuana addiction.
What is Marijuana?
The main active ingredient in marijuana is “tetrahydracannabinol” (called “THC”). When smoked, the effects of THC are almost immediate and can last from 1-3 hours.
On the street, marijuana is referred to by many names, including:
How is Marijuana Ingested?
The main method of ingesting marijuana is inhalation, usually by smoking. There are many ways to smoke marijuana, including:
- Rolled in paper and smoked like a cigarette, usually without a filter (called a “joint”)
- Packed into premade cigar tubes or hollowed out cigars (called “blunts”)
- Small hand pipes designed for smoking marijuana (sometimes called, “bowls”)
- Larger pipes of varying complexity and size, that may include water chambers (called, “bongs”)
- Elaborate pipes with hose attachments for multiple users (called, “hookahs”)
“Vaporizing” or “vaping” marijuana has become a popular method of inhalation. “Vaping” involves the use of an electronic device to heat the marijuana to a temperature where the THC will vaporize, but without actually burning the material. Burning and smoking marijuana creates a pungent smoke, while vaping marijuana creates a less intense odor (may smell something like burnt popcorn). Vapor generally dissipates more quickly than smoke.
Marijuana can also be processed for introduction into foods (“edibles”) and other methods of delivery.
What are the Effects of Marijuana Use on the Brain?
When THC enters the bloodstream, it acts on receptors in the brain that are intended to receive naturally occurring brain chemicals that are similar in shape to some of the molecules into which THC breaks down.
The greatest concentration of these receptors is found in the areas of the brain governing pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, time sense and perception, and coordinated movement. THC over-activates and floods the system, leaving users with the characteristic “high” and other side effects.
Why Worry about Marijuana Abuse / Marijuana Addiction?
In some areas of the country, Marijuana is popularly viewed as a safe – even recreational – substance, especially when compared to other street drugs like heroin and cocaine (or even when compared to the ravages caused by other addictions like alcohol).
Several states in the country are enacting laws to establish regulated “medical marijuana” dispensaries, where the drug is available by prescription. Still other states are legalizing the use of marijuana, or decriminalizing its possession.
Looking at the action of states and the changing popular perception of marijuana, it would be easy to fall into the mindset that marijuana presents no real danger to the public.
However, marijuana is a drug – a mind and mood altering substance – and marijuana addiction is real. People who chronically use marijuana – and chronic users who try to stop – often experience both physical and psychological adverse effects. Also, many people whose addictions end their using careers with drugs like cocaine or heroin report that marijuana was their “gateway” to harder drugs.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Marijuana Addiction and Abuse?
Marijuana use can increase paranoia, and depression, as well as causing the inability to think clearly. Although these effects will tend to wear off within a relatively short period, for some users they can last for an extended period of time. Some psychological effects can last for months.
A person who has, or is developing marijuana addiction may display any of several common signs and symptoms, including:
- Tolerance Increase: Larger and larger amounts of marijuana may be needed to reach the same level of intoxication that the user could reach with smaller amounts when use began.
- Loss of Control: people struggling with marijuana addiction may often find themselves using more than they planned, promised, or intended.
- Cravings: people with marijuana addiction will find themselves obsessively thinking about marijuana, and may feel a strong sense of urgency or “need” to get high.
- Life Alterations: life for people suffering from marijuana addiction becomes less about living, and more about planning around where and when to get the next high, and the amount of time needed to recover from using.
- Dangerous and Harmful Behavior: even though continued using creates problems with mental and physical health (like mood swings, and paranoia), people with marijuana addiction will continue using regardless of the consequences.
- Self-Medicating: Many people begin using marijuana as a method of relaxation, or as a way of coping with feelings (like anxiety, depression, etc.). If done for long enough, users may find themselves psychologically dependent upon the marijuana and will be unable to relax or deal with feelings in the absence of the drug.
- Withdrawal Symptoms: Withdrawal symptoms may occur if marijuana is denied or unavailable. Signs of marijuana withdrawal can include agitation, anxiety, irritability, poor appetite, mood swings, insomnia, depression and fatigue.
What Can You Do?
Please call our New Jersey treatment center today to find out what therapy programs may be available for you or your loved one. Call our rehab facilities in NJ 24 hours a day at 888-687-6977, or contact us here.
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