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Signs Of Marijuana Use
Although the effects of marijuana abuse and addiction might not be considered to be as serious as those from other intoxicating and mind altering substances, they are still likely to cause problems in your life.
If you suspect that someone you love might be using this drug, therefore, it is imperative that you know what to look for.
Understanding Marijuana Use
Today, marijuana is among the most commonly abused mind altering substances in the United States. In fact, recent statistics show that close to 22.2 million Americans have abused the drug over the past 30 days.
Although most people consider marijuana and all cannabis-related products and off-shoots to be relatively harmless, research now shows that using these substances might impair your learning functions, thinking, and memory. It might also cause a variety of other effects on your life and that of people close to you. This is why it is so important to learn how to identify the common signs of marijuana use and mitigate it before it gets out of hand.
Effects Of Marijuana Intoxication
But how exactly can you tell that someone is intoxicated on this drug? Essentially, people who are high on marijuana often show several physical signs. These may include but are not necessarily limited to increased appetite, delayed reaction times, and poor muscle coordination.
Additionally, sudden shifts in mood from stressed and tense to highly relaxed and easy going is an indication of certain marijuana. In the same way, the drug might cause abrupt symptoms of hallucinations, panic, and anxiety.
Those who have just used the substance might also have a distinctive smell - which could be described as being skunk-like. If you catch whiffs of this scent on anyone's hair and clothing, then it is highly likely that they used it recently.
According to the Foundation for a Drug Free World, marijuana use also causes a variety of physical side effects, which may include but are not limited to:
- An initial liveliness
- Delayed reaction times
- Distorted sense of perception
- Increased heart rate
- Poor limb and muscle coordination
- Red eyes
At work, home, and any other place where sobriety is more of a norm, people who are intoxicated on marijuana might be much harder to spot. Therefore, if you notice a distinct change in a loved one, you are highly likely to second-guess your initial thought or perception. Due to this doubting process, you might attribute the troubling behavior to illness and/or fatigue or think that they are just off mood.
However, as the troubling behavior persists, you might have more difficulty denying that there is a problem. Still, you need to learn more about physical and psychological signs of marijuana use to be able to tell that the person you are worried about is into drug abuse.
Marijuana And The Brain
Most people have a rough idea about the common side effects of marijuana use. In most cases, these effects usually arise from the interaction of the drug with the brain. That said, THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is the main psychoactive chemical in cannabis/marijuana.
After abusing the drug, therefore, your blood will carry this chemical to your brain. While there, it will impact the cannabinoid receptors, which are the complexes that interact with cannabinoid neurotransmitters in the brain - because there are cannabinoids that occur naturally in the human body. To this end, the general effects of cannabinoids on these receptor sites would be to slow down the communication between the cells inside the brain and the body.
Using marijuana causes similar effects. This is why the drug is often associated with calming and relaxing effects on users. The THC component, in particular, may trigger your natural reward system, thereby resulting in the pleasurable and pleasant effects commonly associated with the drug.
Signs Of Marijuana Abuse
The common signs and symptoms of marijuana use vary wildly from one person to the other based on the amount used, the length of use, as well as the likelihood that other intoxicating, addictive, and mind altering substances were also used concurrently with pot. It may also depend on the frequency of use.
That said, there are certain common signs and symptoms of marijuana abuse, which may include:
a) Behavioral Signs of Marijuana Use
- Appearing spaced-out
- Changing friend groups
- Decreased inhibitions
- Decreased scholastic or occupational achievements
- Drug-seeking behaviors
- Engaging in increasingly risky behaviors
- Increasingly disheveled appearance
- Legal problems
- Loss of interest and enthusiasm in activities that were once-pleasurable
b) Physical Signs of Marijuana Use
- Appearing intoxicated
- Extreme hunger, also commonly known among marijuana users as the munchies
- Glassy eyes
- Heart attack
- Impaired coordination
- Physical dependence
- Red and bloodshot eyes
c) Cognitive Signs of Marijuana Use
- Challenges in basic problem solving
- Disrupted learning abilities
- Distorted sensory perception
- Distorted time perception
- Memory loss
d) Psychosocial Signs of Marijuana Use
- Worsening emotional health and wellbeing
Sometimes, marijuana might cause you to feel that you might be in a crisis or create thoughts about hurting yourself or someone else around you. If you feel these effects, it is highly recommended that you get emergency medical attention by calling 911 or checking into the nearest emergency department immediately.
Common Methods Of Marijuana Use
In most cases, being intoxicated on marijuana might last for a couple of hours. However, the duration of these effects will largely depend on your level of tolerance, the way you used the drug, as well as the potency of the particular batch you took.
That said, the drug is used in a variety of ways, including but not necessarily limited to:
- In food, otherwise known as marijuana edibles
- In teas
- In tinctures and tonics
- In wax or hash form
- Smoking it (in rolling papers, pipes, or bongs)
- Through a vaporizer
Consuming marijuana-based edibles, in particular, may increase the risk of your suffering adverse reactions. This is because the THC content in most edibles may take longer for your blood to absorb than if you simply smoked marijuana. As a direct result, people who take edible forms of the drug may end up overeating in a bid to compensate of the lag time they experience in getting intoxicated on the drug. This might prove to be dangerous and come up with adverse effects.
Dangers Of Marijuana Use
However, the dangers linked to marijuana are not simply limited to its edibles. This is because high levels of THC - irrespective of the mode of use or method of administration - can cause acute marijuana toxicity.
In most cases, the toxicity might be as a result of the drug in and of itself. However, drug dealers sometimes mix other drugs with marijuana - including but not limited to hallucinogens.
Therefore, even though most Americans might not think that they have a problem with marijuana and although some states have legalized both the medical and the recreational use of this drug, this does not necessarily mean that marijuana does not come with any risks or dangers for users.
Additionally, the long term psychological consequences of abusing the drug are as not yet completely understood. However, preliminary studies now suggest that addiction to this drug might increase your risk of developing a variety of mental health disorders. These may include schizophrenia, motivational disorder, anxiety, and depression.
Therefore, it is not entirely surprising to learn that using marijuana may affect your short term memory as well as your natural ability to retain any new information you glean. In the long term, marijuana use might also affect your learning and memory, although this is still uncertain and requires extensive study on prolonged marijuana abuse and addiction.
In the short term, however, the immediate side effects of abusing the drug might not be life-threatening. However, there is always the potential that using marijuana might come with some dangers and risks.
In fact, UNDOC (the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) reported that the number of emergency room admissions related to marijuana abuse increased by over 59% from 2006 to 2010. Other immediate side effects of using this intoxicating substance include:
- Elevated heart rate
- Impaired cognition
- Impaired motor function
- Panic attacks
In the long term, the effects of abusing the drug are not quite as damaging as the effects arising from using other substances. However, there are certain discernible effects that could be attributed to marijuana.
Even though there isn't any concrete evidence to support the fact that chronic marijuana abuse comes with damaging effects on most adults, this isn't true with teens. Still, some of the potential side effects of abusing this drug for a long time might include:
- Inhibited mental development
- Lung infections
- Memory loss
- Mood swings
- Panic attacks
- Reduced learning ability
The potential risks of prolonged marijuana abuse by teens were highlighted by a recent Duke University study. In the study, it was discovered that among 1037 individuals who abused the drug on a regular basis as teens eventually experienced an overall decreased of 8 IQ points on average. However, the findings from the study also reported that this decrease in IQ could also be as a result of other factors.
Whether you discover marijuana paraphernalia accidentally or after conducting a search, such a discovery should confirm your suspicions and alert you that the individual concerned is abusing the drug.
However, you need to understand that actively searching for such marijuana paraphernalia might be construed by the affected person as an invasion of their privacy. On balance, when you consider the dangers linked to marijuana abuse, you may consider such invasion to be justifiable.
That said, the following are some of the types of paraphernalia that are linked to marijuana abuse:
- Cigar papers (with the contents emptied)
- E-cigarettes (used to smoke marijuana concentrates)
- Pipes (of various materials, including glass)
- Roach clips
- Rolling papers (which are usually brown or white in color)
As you look for marijuana paraphernalia, you might want to check some specific places. Some of the places where people who abuse this substance (and other drugs) may hide their batch and other paraphernalia include:
- Between slats of furniture
- In an over-the-counter medication package
- In carved-out spaces, such as at the top of doors
- In drop ceilings
- In hollowed-out cans
- In the lining of loud speakers
- In unopened soda cans
- In wall outlets
- Inside the false roof of bird houses
- Under fish tanks
After discovering marijuana and any paraphernalia associated with it, the next problem you will encounter is trying to determine the age of the find as well as when the individual(s) concerned last abused the drug.
Old stashes of the drug might have mold or even break easily into near powder-like consistency. It might also be brittle and not have the fresh plant-like scent of a newer batch of marijuana. In some cases, however, the individual might have folded the drug into a piece of paper or an envelope that might still have a legible date that you could use to determine how old the batch is.
Judging the age of marijuana-related paraphernalia isn't quite as easy. However, pipes and bongs that are well used might have darkened from the burned drug residues. On the other hand, if the pipe or bong was recently used, it might still be warm or hot.
When people make blunts of marijuana to smoke, they might discard tobacco content from cigarettes - which you may still be able to find as bits on the floor or in the garbage.
With regard to marijuana edibles, check all light colored baked goods - like cakes and chocolate chip cookies. If they have a weird smell or noticeable odor as well as a green hue, then it is highly likely that that is a batch of edibles.
Marijuana Withdrawal And Overdose
Even as you continue learning more about the signs of marijuana use, it is also imperative that you also understand what happens when someone withdraws from the drug or overdoses on it.
In most cases, marijuana overdose is highly unlikely. However, when you use too much of the drug and in excessive amounts, you might experience the following dreadful symptoms:
- Extreme anxiety
- Injury to yourself or to other on account of the effects of the drug on coordination, perceptions, and judgement
- Panic attacks
- Psychosis, which could be described as losing touch with reality
In hospitals, the following are some of the symptoms that have been reported in cases of marijuana-related toxicity:
- Cardiac arrest
- Chest pain
- Heart attack
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heart rhythm
On the other hand, the withdrawal symptoms arising from long term marijuana abuse are defined as the symptoms you may experience when you stop using the drug. Some of these symptoms and effects might include:
- Intense cravings for the drug
Overall, the only solution when you discover marijuana or you notice any signs of marijuana use is to get the individual concerned into a treatment program. The earlier this happens, the easier it will be to protect them from any potential risks and dangers that might arise from continued drug abuse.
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