December 2, 2014 Marissa ObrienAddiction0

While the true addictive nature of marijuana has been a topic of controversy for years, there is little doubt that long-term use will eventually have a negative effect on the user. Short-term effects are relatively well known, seeing as many major motion pictures and feature a character known as the “stoner” or “pot head”. Common side effects of short-term use include lowered reaction time, anxiety, paranoia, increased heartbeat, and sleepiness. Most of these side effects are completely harmless, and dissipate within several hours. Because there are no immediate dangers involved in smoking marijuana, many users believe it to be totally harmless. This is not the case.

Long-Term Effects of Marijuana Abuse

Because cannabis is illegal in most states, it has been difficult to conduct any prolonged studies on lasting effects of long-term use. However, studies that have been held have investigated both the positive and negative effects of long-term use. In many cases, marijuana is the first illicit substance adolescents are exposed to. The most widely used illicit drug in the entire Western world, well over half of the general population has experimented with marijuana at some point in time. Long-term exposure poses the risk of irreversible impairment of cognitive function to children and pre-pubescent adolescents that are exposed to the drug at an early age. In adults, however, long-term central nervous system effects of cannabis are entirely indistinguishable from any psychiatric disorders that may have been pre-existing.

Is Marijuana Addictive?

It has been estimated that somewhere between 10 and 20% of those who use marijuana on a daily basis will become dependent. Marijuana addiction has been a topic of debate for years, though evidence pointing towards eventual dependency is solid. Marijuana abuse is defined in the DSM-5 as a condition requiring treatment, and the rates of those being admitted to treatment facilities for the primary reason of marijuana addiction have been skyrocketing in recent years. While cannabis has far less addictive potential than drugs like methamphetamine and heroin, it has proven to be more addictive than drugs like LSD and mescaline. While no exceedingly harmful long-term effects of prolonged marijuana abuse are clear, the drug is known to worsen manic symptoms of bipolar disorder, anxiety, and other forms of psychosis. If you or someone you love is battling an addiction to marijuana, one of our trained representatives would be more than happy to assist in answering any questions you may have.

Very few people nowadays deny the fact that heroin addiction is very real – and very dangerous. Opiate addiction has been claiming so many lives in recent years that it is essentially an inarguable fact. Those who know someone who has battled alcoholism easily conclude that alcohol is highly addictive – mental and physical dependency to the substance becomes clear as lives are continuously lost to the unrelenting disease. But weed? Weed doesn’t destroy lives – reduce once-essential members of society to pathetic, groveling street dwellers, prostituting themselves for one more joint, selling their parents’ wedding rings so they can pack just one more bowl. Marijuana doesn’t leave people emaciated and covered in sores, or so mentally deteriorated they can’t even get out of bed. Pot is cool, being a stoner is socially acceptable, and no one has ever overdosed on marijuana – ever. So there’s no danger… right?

Can You Be Addicted to Marijuana?

Actually, it has recently been scientifically proven that long-term marijuana use can lead to addiction. 9% of people who use marijuana will become dependent on it. This number increases to 1 in 6 regarding those who start using marijuana at a young age (in their early teens), and between 25% and 50% of those who use on a daily basis. In 2010, 4.5 million out of the recorded 7.1 million individuals who were dependent on or abusing illicit drugs were primarily battling dependencies on marijuana. Cannabis itself is not physically addicting, though mental dependency is exceedingly prevalent, as proven by these statistics. And while true marijuana addiction is very rare, it is very real.

Withdrawing from long-term marijuana use produces symptoms similar to those caused by kicking a prolonged nicotine habit – and you have ever tried to quit smoking cigarettes you are familiar with the fact that it is no easy task. Marijuana withdrawal will likely cause irritability, intense craving, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping. A week after ceasing use, aggression has been proven to increase significantly. Of course, these symptoms tend to subside on their own after a couple of weeks and pose no serious physical or psychological risk. However, for those who have been using marijuana on a daily basis for an extended period of time, symptoms may be more severe.

“Marijuana Maintenance” Is Never A Good Idea

Those individuals who are victims of what has become widely known as “inherited boredom” are far more likely to engage in daily use, develop tolerance, and thus form dependency on the drug. Adolescents who are financially well-off, who have little responsibility aside from attending school on a daily basis, tend to be the portion of the overall global population that end up eventually seeking treatment for marijuana addiction. Many addicts and alcoholics who struggle with addictions to other substances will substitute marijuana for their drug of choice, assuming that it is not addictive and thus a logical and safe alternative. Unfortunately, this misunderstanding often leads to relapse, or an eventual dependency on marijuana. When recovering from addiction, no chemical substance is safe to use. And while marijuana overdose has never lead directly to fatality, the drug can still be addictive and cause far more harm than good in the long run.

The Hope Center

The Hope Center for Rehabilitation offers a full range of services both leading up to, during and following treatment, including professional interventions, a luxury, medically assisted detox program, inpatient rehabilitation (30-90 days), intensive out-patient rehabilitation and out-patient services. Each of our clients become a part of our alumni program at the completion of their treatment to help foster a continued community of recovery.

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