Potential High-Dose Risks of Marijuana

Potential High-Dose Risks of Marijuana

In some cases, marijuana is legally prescribed for medicinal purposes, but many users smoke or consume marijuana illegally in order to obtain a high. The effects of the drug are often immediate when smoked. When the drug is consumed in food, the onset of effects may be slower, but the effects can last longer. Marijuana use causes feelings of euphoria and relaxation, perceptual alterations and intensification of ordinary sensory experiences. While many users and legalization activists claim marijuana poses no risk of negative effects, marijuana use can in fact cause several adverse effects on users. The negative effects of marijuana use can be both physical and psychological, and the risks increase with higher dosage and longer use. Contrary to popular belief, marijuana use can lead to tolerance, dependence and addiction.

Short-Term Risks of Marijuana Use

Marijuana use can lead to a number of short-term risks, including the following:

  • Distorted perception
  • Memory loss
  • Loss of coordination
  • Confusion
  • Increased heart rate
  • Anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions

While none of these side effects are fatal, they can lead to potentially deadly consequences. One significant short-term risk associated with marijuana use is the risk of fatal car accidents that result from driving with impaired motor skills. Marijuana users are also at increased risk of heart attack due to an elevated heart rate.

Higher doses of marijuana increase the risk of these symptoms, as does concurrent alcohol use. Also, symptoms can be more severe when the drug is eaten rather than smoked.

Long-Term Risks of Marijuana Use

In addition to the short-term risks marijuana use poses, marijuana can also cause long-term effects, such as the following:

  • Addiction – Long-term marijuana use can lead to tolerance and dependence. Long-term users who stop using the drug may experience withdrawal symptoms including cravings, irritability, insomnia, nightmares and anxiety.
  • Mental disorders – Marijuana use, especially in high doses, can cause psychotic symptoms. Psychosis can be caused, aggravated or precipitated by marijuana, and heavy use increases the user’s risk of experiencing a mental disorder, such as depression, anxiety, psychosis and schizophrenia.
  • Smoking related health problems – Smokers of marijuana are at risk of developing bronchitis, chronic cough and lung cancer.
  • Impaired memory and learning – Marijuana use can cause impaired memory and impaired ability to focus. These effects are subtle but they can be permanent.
  • Sexual side effects – Marijuana can cause suppressed hormone production, low sperm count, erectile dysfunction and irregular periods.
  • Neurological development problems – Children born to mothers who used marijuana while pregnant may have problems with sustained attention, memory and problem-solving skills.

Since marijuana is illegal, its production and distribution are not regulated for safety. Contaminants in the drug may also cause serious side effects.

Risk of Overdose

When marijuana is used alone, overdose is rare, even with high doses. Overdose symptoms may be similar to the short-term side effects of use and include increased heart rate, difficulty breathing, disorientation and panic.

Finding Help for Marijuana Abuse

If you or someone you love is struggling with marijuana use, please call our toll-free helpline now. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day to answer your questions and offer you more information about marijuana, risks of marijuana use and marijuana addiction treatment. Please call us today.