The opinion on marijuana varies depending on who you speak to.
Wherever personal opinions may land on this, one thing is certain — individuals showing addictive traits or tendencies may struggle immensely to quit or control their marijuana use. The effects on a person’s life can be just as detrimental as those caused by any other drug.
If your loved one is struggling with marijuana abuse or addiction, New Life House can help. We can guide you in the right direction toward treatment and counseling and help you and your family forge a new path to sobriety.
Please call us at 888-357-7577 or email us at [email protected] for more information.
Is Marijuana Addictive?
Many believe that an addiction to marijuana is not a “real thing” and that it isn’t like other drugs, but they couldn’t be farther from the truth.
It turns out that the addictive properties of marijuana are far reaching and rarely understood. While marijuana addiction does have a physiological component, a large part of its grip on users is psychological. In fact, this is the case with many forms of addiction.
Take, for instance, gambling. While there is no substance ingested, the psychological effects become so sought after that they drive the user to extreme and destructive behaviors. Marijuana, and its acute effects, operate in a very similar way. Abusers feel the sensation is so elusive that they can no longer function in life without it, soon finding themselves suffering from the same unintended consequences which so often accompany addiction.
Do not be fooled by the fact that marijuana is not associated with the kind of gut-wrenching physical addictions that are so often illustrated with drugs like heroin or alcohol. The frequency of use and tolerance of an individual suffering from a marijuana addiction will look almost identical. The signs of physical dependance with marijuana are far more understated, but can be just as hard to escape from. Most importantly, the short and long-term ramifications of addiction — in the family, with the law, at the workplace, or to the body — can be just as drastic.
While some individuals continue to argue that marijuana is not addictive, countless others have sought help for the effect it has had on their lives. Unfortunately, this baseless anecdotal evidence has pervaded our culture, but heaps of scientific evidence and professionals working in the field have confirmed time and again that this just isn’t true.
Marijuana Anonymous was established in 1989 for individuals that admitted to themselves that they’re addicted to marijuana. The program is based off of the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.
What Should I Know About Marijuana Addiction?
Marijuana dependence occurs when the brain adapts to large amounts of the drug by reducing production of and sensitivity to its endocannabinoid neurotransmitters. Cannabinoids are transmitted into the brain and are ways to alter the mind, which is precisely what marijuana does, and to many, is the desired effect. So, when the brain stops producing its own, the only rational response to someone using marijuana is to continue use to achieve the result or “escape” that is so desirable to them.
Marijuana use now being legalized in individual states has become very casual and socially acceptable, but many people abuse the drug and become addicted. For many, using Marijuana is simply a social thing. At parties, with friends, you name it. But many people take it too far, and the main demographic that abuses it ranges from the ages of 16-20. High schools and colleges are where the majority of the damage takes place, and a few key indicators can show anybody when it is becoming more severe.
Is Marijuana a Gateway Drug?
Marijuana has commonly been referred to as a gateway drug. This is not true. Although many addicts often report marijuana as being one of the first drugs they tried, it does not mean that marijuana was the reason. While there is a strong correlation between marijuana use and other drug use, this is due to the individual rather than the drug.
There are two primary factors that can explain the correlation between marijuana use and other drug use. The first is the individual. Individuals who are interested in the mind-altering effects produced by drugs are more likely to experiment with a variety of drugs, not just marijuana. Most people who use Marijuana never begin using other drugs. Another factor is accessibility. Marijuana is often more accessible than harder drugs.
How Does Marijuana Impact Teens & Young Adults?
Smoking cannabis as a teenager lowers IQ into adulthood and could have a lifelong impact, researchers have warned.
U.S. researchers found the damaging effects of the drug remained even if users stopped smoking marijuana as adults. They said teenagers face increased risks from smoking cannabis, because the brain is rapidly developing at this time.
The scientists from the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) in the U.S. added that smoking cannabis affects critical thinking and memory during use, with the effect persisting for days. Reviewing a range of studies on marijuana smoking, they reiterated that cannabis impairs driving and increases the risk of being involved in a car accident.
The risks are further enhanced when combining marijuana with alcohol, as reported in the New England Journal of Medicine. The panel looked into areas where little research had been previously conducted. Those areas included the consequences of second-hand marijuana smoke, the long-term impact of prenatal marijuana exposure, the therapeutic potential of the individual chemicals found in the marijuana plant, and the effects of marijuana legalization policies on public health in the U.S. Stronger health effects may occur with today’s more potent marijuana, they warned, as older studies are based on the effects of lower-potency marijuana.
How Does Someone Abuse Marijuana?
Marijuana is typically smoked, but it can also be ingested in food and liquids, vaporized, or rubbed on the skin in lotions. Anytime that someone is using the drug in larger quantities than intended, or in a manner that is seemingly beyond their control, they may be abusing the drug. While there is some (unfounded) contention as to the harmfulness of marijuana, those who have suffered, or watched their loved ones suffer from the effects of marijuana addiction will assure you this is not true. As with any drug of abuse, we are not here to cast judgement on recreation use, but to assure you that the addictive qualities of marijuana are documented and real, and the effects can be devastating.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Marijuana Abuse?
There are many signs that someone may be abusing marijuana.
- Smoking alone – People who smoke by themselves are no longer smoking to have fun with a group of people or to be social; they are now in an entirely different realm.
- Smoking to gain appetite or eat: If they cannot eat unless they smoke and get high first, it’s a clear sign they’re abusing marijuana
- Smoking to sleep: Your body can become so used to smoking before bed that many people cannot sleep if they aren’t high. This again is another indicator that abuse is taking place.
- Using it for Escape: The biggest reason and indicator of abuse with Marijuana is when it’s used for “escape.” Many people use marijuana because they are stressed out, upset, sad, anxious, or scared. Eventually, it’ll consume their entire day and they’ll be high all the time.
- Poor Money Management: Money also begins to be spent on all the wrong things. Rather than tending to one’s body and taking care of oneself, spending goes to picking up more Marijuana, buying paraphernalia, and doing whatever needs to happen to get more money.
- Low motivation and productivity: Many students will start to not show up to class, do poorly on assignments, and will lose care in the important parts of life as pot, is all they care about and focus on. And many kids that are addicted won’t admit it, as they don’t think anything is wrong since many others their age are doing the same thing. But to people on the outside looking in, it will be clear due to the habits and mannerisms they possess.
- Theft: Stealing is a big one, as many will steal money or pawn miscellaneous items to be able to get more money to purchase more weed. And if this isn’t happening, they could even be selling it themselves to get money and consistently be partaking in illegal activity.
According to the American Addiction Centers, chronic marijuana use can affect the brain and body in some of the following ways:
- Impairment to memory,
- Increased risk of heart attack,
- Irregular heart rates,
- Increased risk of acute coronary syndrome,
- Trouble breathing,
- And more.
Is Drug Treatment Necessary for Marijuana Use?
Many parents believe that addiction treatment isn’t necessary for a teen that is using marijuana. This is not necessarily true. The most important thing to consider when drugs and teens or young adults are involved, which is why the drug use is taking place?
Once an addictive pattern of behavior develops, new dangers and concerns come into play. Although marijuana is viewed as being less dangerous than other illicit drugs, any addiction should be treated seriously.
Marijuana use can disrupt the adolescent developing brain, affecting areas of the brain that deal with memory and problem solving. This can have a negative impact on an adolescent’s cognitive abilities and academic performance. Teens that abuse marijuana exhibit the same characteristics as an individual addicted to other dangerous illicit drugs.
Parents should be aware that substance abuse is often a symptom of some of the following underlying issues:
- Low self-esteem
- Peer pressure
Although substance abuse is often the most alarming issue for parents, the underlying issues must be addressed in order for an individual to recover from substance abuse issues. Asking why it is that an individual feels the need to check out from life is usually more important than focusing on the specific drugs being abused.
More often than not once addiction has started, some form of structured program is necessary for recovery to occur, especially for young adults and teens. The best way to combat addiction to any drug, is to look at and address the underlying issues that are contributing to it.
Pot smoking may be an attempt at self-medicating in order to gain some relief from an underlying issue or a reflection of unresolved trauma. If one of these things is going on, there is a good chance it will ultimately lead to harder drug use or drinking. Any drug or alcohol use should be taken seriously, and family members shouldn’t ignore the issue.
If a parent is concerned that their teen is using drugs or alcohol, it is imperative that they take action. Confronting the problem is the first step. Experimentation and casual drug or alcohol use can rapidly develop into abuse, dependence or addiction.
How Can New Life House Help?
New Life House is a highly structured sober living community with a 30-year history of success in treating various types of addiction through addressing the root source of the problem. We have helped thousands of individuals struggling with addiction by creating an environment which is conducive to getting sober in a healthy way.
We can help to treat marijuana addiction by helping addicts to begin a process of self-discovery and accountability to themselves and others.