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Although marijuana is not as life-threatening as other dangerous drugs - such as cocaine and heroin - you can become addicted to it. This substance can also come with negative effects on your brain and body.
Despite this, marijuana is among the most popular of addictive, intoxicating, and mind altering substances on the market today. This is due to the relative ease of access as well as the variety of ingestion methods available.
That said, developing an addiction to marijuana is quite easy and might be faster than most people realize. In case you are in the throes of addiction, however, you should not despair because it is possible to manage the condition.
Rising in popularity in American counterculture through the 60s and 70s, marijuana is among the most commonly abused drugs in the country today. Most people roll the dried leaves and buds of its bushy plant to form cigars and cigarettes for smoking.
After smoking marijuana, users experience an euphoric and relaxing high that simultaneously alters their motor skills, perception of time, memory, and senses. Despite this, the drug is legal in some parts of the country where it is spurring continued controversy. In some states, the recreational smoking of marijuana as well as the use of medical marijuana are legal.
Marijuana is derived from the dried seeds, flowers, stems, and leaves of the green, leafy cannabis sativa plant. It is commonly abused for its THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) chemical which produces a variety of effects, chief among them being euphoria.
The cannabis plant, is a green leafy bush that has distinct 5 or 7 point leaves. In counterculture, the image of these leaves is a popular symbol among users.
After drying, marijuana ranges in color from brown to green and resembles clumps of moss. Blunts and joints, on the other hand, are similar to hand-rolled cigars and cigarettes.
Additionally, the drug is present in edibles when it is baked in brownies and cookies that virtually look identical to regular versions of such foods. For instance, a pot brownie looks the same as a regular brownie except for its taste and smell.
Otherwise known on the street as dabs, marijuana varies greatly depending on the extract it inhibits. In liquid form, for instance, it is referred to as honey oil or hash oil and closely resembles any other kind of oil.
On the other hand, wax is a solid that is soft and similar to any lip balm while shatter also appears in solids that are amber-colored. Whereas hash oil is sold inside small bottles, shatter or wax is sold shaped as small animals.
Most of the marijuana in the country is grown, harvested, and produced locally - which is why the rate of addiction to the drug is so high. However, the drug is also imported from other countries, including Kazakhstan, South Africa, Nigeria, Thailand, Jamaica, Colombia, Canada, and Mexico. Imported marijuana often comes in the form of bricks although people buying it on the street get dime or nickel bags of it.
To avoid attracting unwanted attention from law enforcement authorities and officials, dealers and abusers call marijuana by a variety of nicknames. These include, but are not limited to:
- Hash oil
- Mary Jane
There are other terms that are related to this drug as well as to its abuse. They include:
- 4/20: The 20th of April, when people smoke weed to get high
- 420: Slang used to refer to the act of smoking marijuana
- Blunts: Marijuana cigars
- Bongs: Water pipes used to smoke marijuana
- Bowls: Glass pipes used to smoke marijuana
- Bricks: Large compacted blocks of marijuana
- Dabbing: Smoking the THC resin in marijuana
- Dime bag: A bag worth $10 of marijuana
- Doobie: The nickname used for a joint
- Head shop: Stores that sell paraphernalia related to marijuana use, including bongs and bowls
- Joints: Marijuana cigarettes
- Nickel bag: A bag worth $5 of marijuana
- Roach clip: Small metal clips used to hold the end of blunts and joints to ensure users can smoke them to entirety without burning or scarring their fingers
- Roach: The butt of a blunt or joint
- Spice or K2: Synthetic marijuana
In most cases, marijuana users typically combine it with other intoxicating and mind-altering substances - particularly in party and nightclub environments. However, some of these drug combinations come with dangerous effects due to the risky interactions they cause.
Common interactions between marijuana and other drugs include:
a) Marijuana, Insulin, and Diabetes Medications
Potentially, marijuana affects the levels of blood sugar in the body. This is particularly dangerous for diabetics who might be taking insulin or oral medications to deal with their condition - especially due to the risk of developing hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia.
If you have a prescription for insulin as well as one for medical marijuana, it is imperative that you only take the drugs under close supervision and monitoring from your doctor to ensure that they monitor your levels of blood sugar and adjust your doses accordingly.
b) Marijuana, Alcohol, Opioids, and Benzodiazepines
If you combine any of these drugs with weed, you might experience extreme drowsiness. This is why it is so important for people using marijuana and phenobarbital, codeine, Valium, Ativan, or alcohol - as well as similar drugs - to ensure that they do not operate a car or heavy machinery. This is because the resulting extreme drowsiness could cause accidents, injuries, or certain death.
c) Marijuana and Antiplatelet, Anticoagulants, and Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
If you combine marijuana with any of these drugs - including but not limited to brand names like Aleve, Advil, Motrin, Plavix, and Coumadin - you might increase your risk of severe bleeding.
This is particularly dangerous because cannabis can impair your motor skills and you may hurt yourself while on the substance - which could potentially lead to excessive and uncontrollable bleeding.
The addictive nature of marijuana is a controversial topic in the healthcare and addiction research communities. However, scientific research has shown that approximately 30% of the people who abuse marijuana eventually develop tolerance and become dependent on and addicted to it. On the other hand, if you start using it during your teens, the risk of developing an addiction increased sevenfold.
One of the reasons why marijuana is so addictive is because it contains THC, the mind-altering substance in it. When you smoke weed, therefore, this chemical will pass from your lungs directly into the bloodstream, from where it will travel to your brain.
Marijuana works by activating a variety of receptors inside the brain. In the process, it may cause difficulty thinking, impaired memory and movement, an altered sense of sight and time, as well as mood changes.
When you ingest or smoke marijuana over time, you might build up tolerance to it. This means that you will have to start using more of the drug to achieve the desired effects - a process that could see your abuse escalate.
If you continue abusing the substance, you might become dependent on and addicted to it. In this state, your brain will adjust to the presence of THC in your system. Therefore, if you remove the chemical - such as by quitting marijuana entirely - your body might go into withdrawal mode.
Marijuana addiction happens when your body is physically dependent on it and you start craving the effects it causes. In such a situation, you might feel like you need it to survive, which could cause you to continue abusing it in spite of the negative effects it causes in your life.
Marijuana And The Brain
As we mentioned earlier, the main compound in weed is THC. It works by interacting with and activating the cannabinoid receptors - which are a type of brain proteins - that are critical for reward processing, learning, and memory.
THC might also cause your brain to release dopamine - a kind of chemical associated with positive thoughts, feelings, and emotions - in excess. This increase is similar to what is experienced by those who abuse cocaine and heroin.
Recent findings show that those who started abusing marijuana at an early age, such as teenage, saw an average loss of 8 IQ points by the time they reached adulthood. This is because the way marijuana interacts with the brain tends to come with adverse effects when teens abuse it - due to the fact that their brains are still developing.
Marijuana Addiction Risks
Most people who abuse marijuana do so believing that the drug has no negative effects. However, studies show that those who are addicted to this substance might face several risks.
Still, even though marijuana addiction is not as common as addiction to other intoxicating and mind-altering substances does not necessarily mean that you will not experience dangerous risks.
Some of the consequences that are commonly associated with addiction to this drug include, but are not limited to:
- Risk of developing lung cancer
- Mental impairment
- Increased risk of suffering a heart attack
- Increased heart rate
- Decreased energy
In the same way, you might experience withdrawal when you stop using marijuana - particularly if you have been taking high doses or you have abused it for a relatively long time.
Such withdrawal is accompanied by a variety of symptoms, which might peak a couple of days after you stop abusing marijuana. Some of these withdrawal symptoms include but are not limited to anxiety, low appetite, excessive sweating, and depression. When this happens, the symptoms tend to come on fast and strong, which could cause you to relapse.
For this reason - among many others - it is highly recommended that you try stopping your abuse by undergoing detox at an accredited facility with workable and reputable programs. With the right resources, tools, and levels of support, you should be able to overcome your addiction starting with the withdrawal symptoms listed above.
On Medical Marijuana
Although marijuana is a commonly abused drug, it has caused significant debate inside the country on account of its alleged and actual medical benefits. From 96 to 08, the 3 territories and 28 states passed comprehensive laws governing the use of medical marijuana.
In these countries, therefore, doctors are legally permitted to prescribe marijuana as a medication. Although the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is yet to approve the use of marijuana for medical purposes, it has approved the use of a few pill cannabinoids.
Some of these purposes include, but are not limited to the following:
- Appetite stimulation
- Control of nausea
- Pain relief
Marijuana might also come with additional medical benefits, such as euphoria, the reduction of anxiety, as well as sedation. However, these effects might prove to be undesirable and unbearable for you.
Most of the states that have legalized the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes have also set specific conditions determining how doctors can prescribe it. Some of the illnesses that doctors would prescribe this type of drug include:
- HIV and AIDS
- Lou Gehrig's disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson's disease
Irrespective of the preferred mode of abuse, you should know that it is possible to live without this drug. Although the effects that you experience when you are high on it tend to be quite short lived, they are nonetheless dangerous in the long run - particularly due to the risk of suffering addiction to marijuana.
As always, the earlier you seek treatment, the easier it will be for you to effectively and permanently overcome your addiction - or prevent it if it hasn't happened in the first place.
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