Marijuana Use, Abuse, Dependency & Medical Implications

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Marijuana is one of the most widely used drugs in America. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about 9% of people who use marijuana become dependent on or addicted, meaning they cannot stop using it even if it is having negative effects on health, finances, relationships, or career.

Marijuana Addiction

While marijuana addiction isn’t associated with overdose death like other drugs, it can have serious side effects. Here are five signs you may have a problem with marijuana.

  1. You Lose Interest in Activities

Marijuana can negatively affect your motivation or decision making, and can cause the loss of interest in the social and recreational activities that you once enjoyed.  In addition, people that habitually use marijuana have a lost sense of motivation and incentive.  If you’re losing interest in setting and achieving goals and are struggling in accomplishing tasks due to marjuana use, then you might have a dependency/addiction to the feeling of using marijuana.  

  1. Your Relationships are Suffering

If you’re putting less effort into your friendships, family, or romantic relationships because of marijuana use, that is a strong sign of how marijuana is interfering in your life.  . You may find yourself pulling away and isolating yourself from people who disapprove of your using the drug and unconsciously choose the drug use over relationships.

  1. You Have Developed Withdrawal Symptoms

People who are dependent on marijuana may notice withdrawal symptoms whenever they stop using it. These symptoms can include:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Depressed mood
  • Restlessness
  • Physical problems such as sweating, tremors, or chills
  1. Your Tolerance Increases

As marijuana users become dependent on the drug, their tolerance increases, meaning they need to use more in order to obtain the same effects. Heightened tolerance is a sign of dependence, and one of several criteria for drug addiction.

  1. You Are Unable to Stop

People who are dependent on or addicted to marijuana are unable to stop using it, even if they notice adverse effects, like difficulty meeting responsibilities. If you find that you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is time to seek help. 

Marijuana Risks

Individuals who use marijuana argue that there are minimal health issues that may come as a result of their excessive use but that’s not the case. Marijuana use can have negative and long-term effects including:

  • Brain health: Marijuana can cause permanent IQ loss of as much as 8 points when people start using it at a young age. These IQ points do not come back, even after quitting marijuana.
  • Mental health: Studies link marijuana use to lack of motivation, depression, anxiety, suicide planning, and psychotic episodes. 
  • Athletic Performance: Research shows that marijuana affects timing, movement, and coordination, which can harm athletic performance.
  • Driving: People who drive under the influence of marijuana can experience dangerous effects: slower reactions, lane weaving, decreased coordination, and difficulty reacting to signals and sounds on the road.
  • Baby’s health and development: Marijuana use during pregnancy may cause fetal growth restriction, premature birth, stillbirth, and problems with brain development, resulting in hyperactivity and poor cognitive function. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other chemicals from marijuana can also be passed from a mother to her baby through breast milk, further impacting a child’s healthy development.
  • Daily life: Using marijuana can affect performance and how well people do in life. Research shows that people who use marijuana are more likely to have relationship problems, worse educational outcomes, lower career achievement, and reduced life satisfaction.

Today, marijuana use is on the rise among all adult age groups, both sexes, and pregnant women. People ages 18-25 have the highest rate of use.  Marijuana use comes with real risks that can impact a person’s health and life.  Research indicates, approximately 1 in 10 people who use marijuana will become addicted. When they start before age 18, the rate of addiction rises to 1 in 6.

In summary, Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal substance in the U.S. and its use is growing. Marijuana use among all adult age groups, both sexes, and pregnant women is going up. At the same time, the perception of how harmful marijuana use can be is declining. Increasingly, young people today do not consider marijuana use a risky behavior.  There are real risks for people who use marijuana, especially youth and young adults, and women who are pregnant or nursing. Currently,  marijuana is stronger than ever before so it’s important to know the truth.

Sources: “How Casual Marijuana Can Cause Brain Abnormalities” by Very Well Mind; “Addicted To Marijuana: 5 Signs You May Have A Problem” by WebMD

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