Why Marijuana Isn’t Harmless

Why Marijuana Isn’t Harmless

Marijuana, also called pot or cannabis, is the most commonly used illegal substance worldwide. When smoked, it generates a sense of euphoria, a “high” that induces feelings of tranquility and happiness. Hunger is also a common result of getting high off this drug. However, contrary to popular opinion, marijuana is addictive—nine percent of people who try this drug will become addicted to it. Younger users carry an even higher risk, as 17% of users under the age of 18 become addicts.

When deprived of the drug, marijuana addicts may experience the following withdrawal symptoms:

  • Cravings
  • Mood swings
  • Headaches
  • Sleep problems
  • Fatigue
  • Low energy
  • Worsening depression

Individuals who suspect that they have a problem with marijuana abuse may see signs of psychological dependence, such as increased preoccupation with smoking and continuing to use despite negative consequences. Additionally, they become more vulnerable to experimenting with other illicit substances.

Other Health Risks of Marijuana Abuse

Many people believe that marijuana is harmless, a myth that is soundly refuted by numerous studies. Public safety information links smoking marijuana to fatal motor vehicle crashes, because people who are intoxicated by this drug are three to seven times more likely to cause a car crash than someone who is sober. Teens and young adults, who often use marijuana and alcohol at the same time, increase the likelihood of motor vehicle accidents even more.

Marijuana also fits the following additional explanations:

  • Serves as a gateway drug
  • Impairs school performanceExacerbates mental illnesses, such as schizophreniaIncreases risks of health problems, such as chronic bronchitis and cardiovascular disease
  • In 2011, more than 4.2 million Americans met the diagnostic criteria for marijuana abuse and dependence

Another cause for concern is how marijuana damages brain development. Teenage marijuana users suffer from decreased brain activity and impaired connectivity between key brain areas. Adolescence is a time of high neuroplasticity, which means the brain can grow tremendously, but regular marijuana abuse limits this capacity, which not only disrupts brain function, but it also damages how neurons connect and become organized. Marijuana’s high distorts perceptions, impairs coordination, thinking and problem solving and it hinders learning and memory. These problems may explain why frequent marijuana use by teens is linked to lower IQ and higher odds of dropping out of school.

Help for Marijuana Addiction

If you or a loved one suffers from marijuana addiction, we can help. Admissions coordinators are available at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline to guide you to wellness. Please call today.