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Effects of Marijuana Use: Short-Term, Long-Term, Side Effects, and Treatment

Is Marijuana Harmful?

Marijuana is the most commonly abused illicit drug in the United States. It is normally smoked as a joint or in a pipe and it can also be smoked as a blunt. Marijuana can be mixed with food, brewed as tea, or used in the form of hash oil. There is no simple answer to what the marijuana high is like, as this varies for each individual.

This dry mix of green and brown mixed flowers, seeds, stems, and leaves comes from the hemp plant called Cannabis sativa. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main active chemical in the plant.

Although it is illegal in most states, marijuana may be used in medical programs in some states. Patients have access to the drug for medical purposes only. This program is used to help those with serious conditions untreated by other medications.

Short-Term Effects of Marijuana Use

The short-term effects of marijuana occur because THC rapidly moves from the lungs into the blood. This chemical acts on cannabinoid receptors, leading to a “high” for users. These receptors are found in the parts of the brain that influence concentration, thinking, sensory and time perception, pleasure, memory, and coordination.

Short-term effects of marijuana normally cease shortly after use.

Dependency can form with marijuana use, even when it is used as a short-term drug.

Side Effects of Marijuana Use

When a person is high on marijuana, the side effects include:

  • Temporary memory loss.
  • Lack of coordination.
  • Altered perception of time.
  • Changes in mood.
  • Difficulties thinking or problem solving.

Video: Physical Effects of Marijuana Use


Credit: Howcast

Long-Term Effects of Marijuana Use

The long-term effects of marijuana use can involve an adverse impact on memory and learning. Those who smoke marijuana consistently when young may experience cognitive impairment as adults, even when no longer using the drug. The long-term effects of marijuana can be unpredictable.

Long-term marijuana use can lead to a number of other unwanted effects, such as respiratory issues, and it may cause learning and problem-solving issues in children born to mothers who smoked marijuana during pregnancy.

Additionally, marijuana use has been associated with certain mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, and it may worsen symptoms in those with schizophrenia.

Marijuana Addiction

Marijuana addiction is possible. In fact, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 25-50% of users who take this drug daily will become addicted to it at some point.

Marijuana may be used in some states in the U.S. for medical treatment. This treatment is only available by prescription and is not regularly given without serious consideration of the patient’s health.

Marijuana Withdrawal Treatment

Marijuana abuse can lead to dependence and withdrawal upon cessation of use. Marijuana withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Irritability.
  • Sleeplessness.
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Anxiety.
  • Aggression.

The symptoms will begin within a day of abstinence. They then peak after 3-6 days and will subside within 2-3 weeks.

Marijuana addiction can be treated at an inpatient rehabilitation center or in an outpatient treatment program. Behavioral interventions—which may include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)—are used to help during rehabilitation therapy.

Find Marijuana Addiction Treatment Programs

If you are struggling with an addiction to marijuana, treatment can give you the tools needed to achieve lasting recovery. Rehab facilities are located throughout the U.S., and many offer specialized treatment that can cater to individual needs. You can use SAMHSA’s Find Treatment tool to search for programs. Many state government websites will provide local drug and alcohol resources to those in need. To find your state government’s website, do a web search for your state name and ‘.gov.’ Once your state website is located, substance use resources shouldn’t be hard to find, and they should provide further phone contacts for your assistance.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leading provider of addiction treatment programs and has trusted rehab facilities across the country. For more information on how marijuana addiction is treated, please contact our 24-hour hotline free at .