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Marijuana Addiction and Abuse

How much weed is too much?
Cannabis is a controversial drug that's been the subject of debates surrounding its safety and risks. At Miracles Asia, we see first hand how it affects people who have become dependent on it. If you or a loved one are looking for a results driven rehab for marijuana addiction, our Admissions Team is ready to help.
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Marijuana is a drug that is derived from the cannabis plant, which is usually dried, rolled, and smoked like a cigarette. Marijuana is now available in other forms like edibles, wax, and more. The drug consists of two sought-after active ingredients tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the ingredient that induces the feeling of high, while CBD provides its therapeutic properties without clouding the mind.

Although the drug offers some potential benefits, the debate about its safety and risks is on the rise. Nevertheless, the substance has been legalized in some states in the US, while most countries continue classifying it as a dangerous drug.

Here you will learn how marijuana affects people and whether it is possible to develop an addiction to the drug.
Key Takeaways
Despite its therapeutic properties, marijuana can be dangerous when abused, leading to substance use disorder and addiction.
Synthetic marijuana can be much more potent and dangerous than regular marijuana, leading to severe side effects.
THC is the component of marijuana that causes the "high" feeling, while CBD has therapeutic properties.

Definition of Marijuana Abuse

Marijuana is often the first choice of young adults when it comes to recreational drugs. It provides calming effects that many people seek when life becomes overwhelming. As for medical purposes, the substance helps patients increase their appetite and reduce stress and pain.

Substance abuse occurs when a person smokes marijuana only to induce mind-altering effects rather than following the doctor's direction to reduce anxiety or pain.

In cases when the drug is used recreationally, substance abuse becomes a noticeable problem when a person needs a higher dose of marijuana to achieve the desired effect. This happens when the brain adjusts to the substance and requires more of it to feel high.

As a result, excessive consumption is another red flag of drug abuse onset.

Marijuana has individual effects on people, and some of them might start experiencing negative physiological or psychological side effects after prolonged use. Continuing to smoke the substance despite visible problems is another sign of drug abuse that is likely to develop into an addiction.

Apart from the abovementioned, drug abuse can also be pinpointed when a person neglects private and professional life for the sake of finding the substance.

Is Marijuana Addictive?

The short answer is yes, marijuana is addictive. Despite this, not everybody develops a severe dependence on the drug.

The chemical structure of drugs determines their properties, specifically how much they can impact the brain. Marijuana isn't as addictive as heroin or cocaine, but frequent drug abuse may turn into severe dependence. Although young people who use marijuana don't consider the drug dangerous, the facts show the opposite.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims that 3 in 10 people who use marijuana have marijuana use disorder. Substance use disorder isn't an addiction yet but a form of drug dependence, either psychological or physical.

This means a person wants to stop using the substance but fails to do so. It may be caused by experiencing tough withdrawal symptoms or an intense craving to consume the drug again.

Those people who have already developed a tolerance and dependence on the drug are likely to use higher doses of marijuana and therefore suffer from impaired attention, memory, and learning abilities.

Substance use disorders can be mild, moderate, and high. The severe form is described by an uncontrollable urge to take the drug. As a result, a person cannot function through the day without smoking and this is one of the marijuana addiction symptoms.

What Does Weed Do to Your Brain?

Any drug that is misused for years can diminish brain activity, and marijuana is not an exception.

Marijuana consists of THC, a psychoactive chemical that binds with cannabinoid receptors in the brain. Those receptors are connected to the nerves that are responsible for pain regulation, memory, and mood. Exposure to THC for a prolonged time may impair mental abilities like concentration, reaction, and learning.

As a matter of fact, cannabis use disorder/marijuana addiction may permanently lower IQ by 8 points. This is especially true for people who use marijuana at an early age. Their cognition, memory, and problem-solving skills become limited. However, more research is needed to prove whether these side effects are permanent or temporary.

Synthetic Marijuana Effects on the Brain

Synthetic marijuana is a man-made drug. It is produced by spraying chemicals on a cannabis plant. These chemicals make the substance much more potent because THC has an intensified impact on the receptors in the brain.

To produce synthetic marijuana, a cannabis plant may be sprayed with a toxic substance that can be life-threatening for a human to take.

Consequently, the side effects can be much worse and may include:
Rapid heart rate
Memory loss
Since the man-made drug is intentionally intensified, it can be more addictive and develop dependence quicker than regular weed products.

Negative Effects of Marijuana Abuse

Marijuana has become an accepted recreational and medical drug in many countries. Although it hasn't been legalized everywhere, it is still feasible to obtain the drug in the countries where the substance is prohibited.

If a person uses weed frequently, there is a high chance of developing tolerance which may turn into drug dependence. Consequently, a severe form of dependence is what is considered a marijuana addiction.

Addressing marijuana addiction at an early stage and going into therapy will increase the chances of successful recovery. There are a number of behavioral and physical signs of marijuana addiction you may notice:

Impaired coordination
Slow reaction time
Altered perception
Memory problems
Difficulties with learning new things
High risk of experiencing paranoia and psychosis
Food craving
Dry mouth
Red eyes
Increased heartbeat
Constant cough
Since drugs impact people individually, it is not uncommon to experience paranoia, anxiety, and fatigue. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration also adds that drug addiction can make a person prone to suicidal thoughts and depression.

Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms

Long-term marijuana abuse may make it harder to stop taking the drug. When a person decides to quit smoking marijuana, the brain needs time to adjust as it has developed a dependence on a substance. 

The adjustment process may cause a number of symptoms that should pass over time.

Some of the common marijuana withdrawal symptoms include the following physical or psychological problems:
Depressed mood
Abdominal pain

How to Overcome Drug Abuse?

People who responsibly use marijuana to treat symptoms of mental disorders and follow their doctor's directions are unlikely to develop cannabis use disorder.

However, if you or your loved ones have started noticing the signs described above, you should address them as soon as possible.

If your journey started with marijuana as a recreational drug and slowly turned into a living nightmare, Miracles Asia can help. Our addiction treatment program in Phuket, Thailand offers guests marijuana treatment programs for those who are struggling to stop using the drug.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is weed an addiction?
The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that it is possible to develop a marijuana use disorder that may escalate to an addiction. It is especially true for young people who have tried marijuana before the age of 18.
What percentage of marijuana users get addicted?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 3 in 10 people who use marijuana develop marijuana use disorder. Additionally, there is a 10% chance for marijuana users to become addicted.
What is considered heavy marijuana use?
Drug abuse is described by an individual who continues taking the substance despite negative psychological and physical effects. The inability to stop taking the drug, risking one's own life to obtain the drug, and neglecting your health are some of the signs of marijuana addiction.

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