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The most commonly abused drug in the United States.

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What is marijuana?

Marijuana—also known as pot, ganja, weed, grass, dope and 420—is an addictive drug made from dried cannabis sativa hemp plant. The active chemical in marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is responsible for marijuana’s hallucinogenic effects. THC moves quickly through the bloodstream to act on cannabinoid receptors in areas of the brain that control memory (the hippocampus), concentration (cerebral cortex), perception (sensory portions of the cerebral cortex) and movement (the cerebellum, substantia nigra, globus pallidus).

Marijuana is the most commonly abused drug in the United States. It is usually rolled into cigarette form and smoked (joint) or smoked through a water pipe (bong). Occasionally, it is brewed as tea or mixed with food, such as brownies. A marijuana “high” is achieved when mental and physical faculties are noticeably altered. Highs vary with potency, dose, chemical composition, method of consumption and setting.

Marijuana Addiction

Is marijuana addictive?

Long-term marijuana abuse can lead to physical and psychological marijuana addiction. Heavy, long-term marijuana users develop physical dependence on the drug and withdrawal symptoms upon quitting. Marijuana withdrawal symptoms typically include irritability, sleeplessness, anxiety, impaired appetite and aggression.

Signs of marijuana use.

The short term signs of marijuana use include:

  • impaired coordination
  • skewed sensory and time perception
  • difficulty thinking, concentrating, and solving problems
  • shortened attention span and distractibility
  • decreased alertness
  • impaired learning and memory
  • euphoria

Additionally, marijuana can cause disturbed thoughts and worsen psychotic symptoms in schizophrenics.

Effects of weed.

Long-term marijuana abuse often results in lowered motivation and an impaired ability to function in daily life. Some users experience anxiety, panic attacks, respiratory illnesses and increased heart rate and risk of heart attack. Though research is not definitive, chronic marijuana abuse has been linked to mental illness such as anxiety, depression and schizophrenia.

Marijuana use also poses a major threat to lung health. Marijuana smokers, especially those who began as teenagers, can have the same respiratory problems as tobacco smokers. In fact, marijuana puts smokers at comparatively higher risk for lung health complications due to the fact that it has four times the tar, three to five times more carbon monoxide and over 50% more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than cigarettes. Just three or four joints cause as much lung damage as 20 cigarettes.

The dangers of marijuana use.

Over the years, marijuana has become much more potent. The amount of THC in pot has increased more than 150% since 1983. Sometimes unbeknownst to the user, marijuana can be laced with heroin, cocaine, insecticides and embalming fluid. About 400 harmful chemicals, many of which are carcinogenic, are commonly found in marijuana as well. Lastly, high doses of marijuana can produce an acute psychotic reaction in some individuals.

Marijuana addiction treatment.

Treatment for marijuana addiction is highly effective. Various options, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, addiction counseling, drug rehab, medication to treat withdrawal and motivational incentives are available. For more information on marijuana addiction treatment, please continue reading.