Marijuana, the part of a cannabis plant that contains substantial amounts of THC, is an intoxicant that can be ingested in several ways. The most common way is smoking, but it can also be baked, cooked, or brewed to be edible (think brownies, gummies, tea, etc.), vaped, or dabbed (where only THC-rich resins are smoked).
As you’ve likely heard at some point along the way, marijuana can be a gateway drug to other substances. (In other words, the experience of using marijuana with no serious drawbacks gives users a false confidence and a bigger appetite for trying new, more intoxicating drugs.)
Using marijuana is socially and legally acceptable in many states these days, particularly when prescribed by a doctor for medical issues and pain. It can be confusing to think of it as an abusable substance, but it is similarly addictive to many other drugs.
Here are some signs you might be struggling with marijuana abuse:
- Using it habitually, as opposed to occasionally or recreationally
- Using it first thing in the morning (“waking and baking”)
- Relying on it to help you achieve something (a mood, a goal, making it through the day)
- Low energy
- Avoiding friends or family
- Spending money you can’t afford (or don’t have) to buy more
- Getting it from a non-medical source (friend, relative, drug dealer, online)
- Feeling uncomfortable when not high
- Chronic cough
Behavioral Effects of Marijuana Use
Marijuana is a mood-altering agent and has the ability to make users feel happy, content, easily amused, and highly tuned in to sensory experiences. However, it can also make users feel paranoid, confused, unbalanced and apathetic. Forgetfulness, distractibility, and difficulty concentrating are common.
Marijuana has been shown to negatively affect brain development long-term, impacting everything from IQ to emotional intelligence.
Physical Effects of Marijuana Use
Marijuana abuse causes many different things to happen in the body. When abused, marijuana can give you a chronic cough, bloodshot eyes, heart arrhythmias or palpitations, feelings of panic, paranoia, and even hallucinations.
When smoked, it moves quickly from your lungs to your blood, increasing your heart rate quickly by an average of 20 to 50 beats per minute. Your heart rate can remain elevated for up to 3 hours after smoking. If you have pre-existing heart disease, it raises your risk of heart attack.
Daily marijuana use can also be a factor in sexual dysfunction and may contain carcinogens.
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