What is Marijuana?
Marijuana is a combination of greenish-grey dried flowers or “Cannabis Sativa.” It comes from the Indian hemp plant and the part that primarily contains the “drug” is made from the buds of the flower rather than the seeds, leaves and stems. It can be smoked in a hand rolled cigarette (joint), in water pipes (bongs), in pipes or blunts (rolled in cigar wrappers). It can be used for medicinal purposes and brewed into a tea. There are also versions that are mixed into foods known as edibles such as cookies, brownies or candies.
Other names for Marijuana:
- Mary Jane
How Marijuana is Made
Marijuana and Hashish is made from over 400 chemicals. Marijuana is made from the cannabis plant and contains psychoactive properties such as tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, as well as other active compounds like cannabidiol, or CBD, that likely alter the mind.
Side Effects of Marijuana Use
The effects of marijuana vary from person to person, but it can cause mind-altering effects that cause a person’s judgement and senses to be clouded. Some of the reasons that the effects vary is due to the amount taken, how potent it is and how it is taken.
Some common side effects are:
- Distorted sense of time
- Change in motor skills that make it dangerous to drive
- Heightened senses such as colors and sounds
- Lowered inhibitions that can cause risky or abnormal behaviors
How Marijuana Effects the Brain
Using marijuana alters your brain in a way that causes you to make things more challenging to accomplish. “Marijuana can make it harder for you to focus, learn, and remember things. This seems to be a short-term effect that lasts for 24 hours or longer after you stop smoking.”
Using marijuana frequently, especially during early adolescence and teen years could cause permanent damage to the brain. In some imaging tests, it showed that the parts of the brain that were linked to memory, alertness and learning had fewer connections and other research shows that some people displayed lower IQ scores.
Marijuana for Pain
Marijuana is becoming increasingly more popular to be used for pain management as opposed to traditional pain medication.
“Medical marijuana is an increasingly popular alternative to traditional pain-relieving medications, including opioids. Marijuana may ease certain types of chronic pain, including pain resulting from nerve damage and inflammation.”
Currently, chronic pain affects more people than cancer, diabetes and heart disease combined. In the United States, chronic pain is the leading cause of long-term disability.
Cross Addiction and its Challenges
When someone becomes clean from marijuana there is a fear that they will begin using other substances to replace it. The most common substance used after getting sober from marijuana is alcohol. It is readily available and a socially acceptable substance to use.
Another reason why people will use other substances is so that they can be a part of their “non-addicted” friends’ group and continue to interact and hangout in the same environments. But the truth is, people who are addicts are not the same as their non-addicted friends. For a person who is addicted, it is not just ‘one drink’, it turns into many drinks and happens often.
Continual use of marijuana can cause someone to develop marijuana use disorder or marijuana addiction. “People who begin using marijuana before the age of 18 are four to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder than adults.”
Marijuana use is often connected to dependence, or the need to use the substance or withdrawal symptoms will occur when discontinuing use.
Is Marijuana Addictive?
A person becomes addicted to marijuana when they cannot stop using the substance despite the negative consequences and affects it has on their life. “Recent data suggest that 30% of those who use marijuana may have some degree of marijuana use disorder.”
The number of people affected by marijuana use disorder is controversial, because the numbers are based on dependence which does not always mean addiction. Someone can be dependent on marijuana but not necessarily be addicted to it. A study conducted in 2015 indicated that about 4 million people in the United States met the diagnostic criteria to qualify as having marijuana use disorders.
Symptoms of Addiction
If you are concerned that you or someone you know has a problem with marijuana, they may display these symptoms:
- Slowed reaction time
- Impaired coordination
- Bloodshot eyes
- Slowed or poor coordination
- Feeling “high” or euphoria
- Relaxed state, sleepiness
- Distorted perception
- Impaired judgment
- Increased appetite
- Lack of motivation
- Lack of motivation
- Memory impairment
- Weight gain
- Nervous or paranoid behavior
- Dry mouth
Treatment for Marijuana Addiction
Like other substance abuse disorders, marijuana abuse can be treated in similar ways. The difference may be that long-term clinical outcomes may be different and less severe than other substances. Many adults that are seeking treatment for marijuana addiction have used the substance for a long period of time and used it daily to the point that they needed it to function properly.
Many marijuana addicts, especially adolescents, have other co-occurring mental health conditions. They also may be addicted to other substances such as alcohol or cocaine. “Available studies indicate that effectively treating the mental health disorder with standard treatments involving medications and behavioral therapies may help reduce marijuana use, particularly among those involved with heavy use and those with more chronic mental disorders.”
Types of Treatment
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Marijuana Use
A form of therapy that focuses on strategies to identify and fix problematic behaviors that may cause substance use. It helps to address the problems that occur along side the drug use.
Motivational Enhancement Therapy for Addiction
A type of intervention with the goal to produce rapid, internally motivated change in a person’s behaviors. It does not try to treat the person but to mobilize the person’s internal resources that cause change.
Contingency Management to Overcome Addiction
A therapy that is based on frequent observing of the wanted behavior and the provision (or removal) of tangible, positive rewards when the behavior occurs (or does not).
Medications for Marijuana Addiction
Although, there is a lot of research being conducted there is currently no medication approved by the FDA to treat marijuana addiction. Because sleep is greatly affected during marijuana withdrawal, there are some studies being done to see how sleep aids can help with marijuana addiction.