Marijuana Abuse Signs, Symptoms and Addiction Treatment

Marijuana, also known as pot, grass, reefer, weed, herb, Mary Jane or MJ, is a dried mixture of parts of the hemp plant, cannabis sativa. Most users smoke it in hand-rolled cigarettes called joints, while some use pipes or water pipes called bongs. Marijuana is also used to brew tea and is sometimes mixed into foods.

Marijuana Abuse Quiz question 1

Signs and Symptoms

Some noticeable signs and symptoms of marijuana abuse include:

  • Rapid, loud talking and bursts of laughter in early stages of intoxication
  • Sleepy or stuporous in the later stages
  • Lack of concentration and coordination
  • Forgetfulness in conversation
  • Inflammation in the whites of the eyes
  • Odor similar to burnt rope on clothing or breath
  • Distorted sense of time passage and a tendency to overestimate time intervals
  • Craving for sweets
  • Increased appetite
  • Use or possession of paraphernalia including roach clips, packs of rolling papers, pipes or bongs

In order to qualify for the diagnosis of marijuana addiction, an individual must suffer from a negative pattern of use of this drug that results in significant problems or suffering, with at least three of the following symptoms occurring at the same time in the same one-year period:

  • Tolerance (decreased effects of marijuana over time or a need to increase the amount used to achieve the desired effect)
  • Withdrawal (characteristic symptoms that occur when the individual abstains from using marijuana for several days)
  • Often taking marijuana in larger amounts or over a longer period of time than planned
  • Persistent desire to use marijuana or trouble decreasing or controlling its use
  • Spending significant time either obtaining marijuana (for example, buying or growing it), using it or recovering from its effects
  • Significant social, educational, occupational or leisure activities are either abandoned or significantly decreased as a result of marijuana use
  • Marijuana use continues despite being aware of or experiencing persistent or repeated physical or psychological problems as a result of its use

If you need help with a marijuana addiction, call our helpline on 1-800-943-0566.

Marijuana Abuse Quiz question 2

Effects of Marijuana Abuse

Within a few minutes after inhaling marijuana smoke, an individual’s heart rate speeds up, the bronchial passages relax and become enlarged, and blood vessels in the eyes expand, making the eyes look red. The heart rate-normally 70 to 80 beats per minute-may increase by 20 to 50 beats per minute, or may even double.

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main active ingredient in marijuana, responsible for many of its effects. When marijuana is smoked, THC rapidly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, which carries the chemical to organs throughout the body, including the brain.

As THC enters the brain, it causes the user to feel euphoric-or high-by acting on the brain’s reward system, which is made up of regions that govern the response to pleasurable things like sex and chocolate. THC stimulates brain cells to release the chemical dopamine. Along with euphoria, relaxation is another frequently reported effect in human studies. Other effects, which vary dramatically among different users, include heightened sensory perception (e.g., brighter colors), laughter, altered perception of time and increased appetite. After a while, the euphoria subsides, and the user may feel sleepy or depressed. Occasionally, marijuana use may produce anxiety, fear, distrust or panic. Marijuana use impairs a person’s ability to form new memories and to shift focus. Therefore, learning, doing complicated tasks, participating in athletics and driving are also affected.

The effects of Marijuana use on the user depend on its strength, or potency, which is related to the amount of THC it contains. The THC content of marijuana has been increasing steadily since the 1970s.

Individuals who become dependent on marijuana tend to be less motivated and less satisfied with their lives. They are also at risk for depression and for abusing alcohol and other drugs.

Marijuana Abuse Quiz question 3Marijuana Abuse Quiz question 4

Marijuana Abuse Treatment

While most individuals with marijuana dependence are treated on an outpatient basis, admission to both outpatient and inpatient treatment programs for marijuana addiction has increased over the years. Behavioral and family-based treatments have been found to be effective for marijuana abuse and addiction. There is as yet no medication that has been shown to be a clearly effective treatment for marijuana abuse.

If you are looking to transition back into a healthy lifestyle, please call 1-800-943-0566 to discuss treatment options.

Marijuana Abuse Quiz question 5

Marijuana Statistics

According to statistics gathered in 2009, 28.5 million Americans age 12 and older had abused marijuana at least once in the year prior to being surveyed. Source: National Survey on Drug Use and Health (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration Web Site). The NIDA-funded 2010 Monitoring the Future Study showed that 13.7 percent of 8th graders, 27.5 percent of 10th graders, and 34.8 percent of 12th graders had abused marijuana at least once in the year prior to being surveyed. Source: Monitoring the Future (University of Michigan Web Site).

Marijuana Abuse Quiz question 6

Teen Marijuana Abuse

Because marijuana affects brain systems that are still maturing through young adulthood, its use by teens may have a negative effect on their development. Contrary to popular belief, it can be addictive.

The social effects of smoking marijuana can be quite detrimental to adolescents. They are at higher risk of pregnancy, dropping out of school, delinquency, legal problems and underachievement, both educationally and occupationally.

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