Amid a national push to fully legalize recreational marijuana, there’s a darker side of the drug that rarely gets mentioned. The drug itself is much stronger than it used to be, containing more than 400 different chemical elements. Higher THC levels in today’s marijuana can lead to a greater chance of a negative reaction to the drug. These higher THC levels might explain the surge in emergency room visits due to marijuana use.
Regarding the other chemicals in marijuana, we don’t know what 90% of them do to the brain. With increasing acceptance of its use, a wider range of people are at risk of developing a chemical dependency to marijuana and related cannabinoid products, along with the various health concerns related to its use:
- Brain health: Marijuana can cause permanent IQ loss when used at a young age.
- Mental health disorders: Marijuana has been linked to depression, anxiety, suicide planning and psychotic episodes.
- Coordination: Marijuana affects our movement and timing as we function physically throughout the day.
- Driving: Driving under the influence causes dangers such as slower reactions, lane weaving and decreased coordination on the road.
- Child development: Marijuana use during pregnancy can result in many health concerns for a mother and baby.
- Quality of life: Those who use marijuana are more likely to have relationship problems, lower educational outcomes and career achievement and reduced life satisfaction.
The proportion of young adults who reported past-year marijuana use reached 43% in 2021, a significant increase from 34% five years ago and 29% 10 years ago. Marijuana use in the past month was reported by 29% of young adults in 2021, compared to 21% in 2016 and 17% in 2011. It is estimated that around 30% of all cannabis users will develop a marijuana use disorder. Those numbers are even higher for people who begin regularly using the drug during adolescence.
CBD is a compound found in marijuana that does not cause a “high” and can be derived from hemp plants. While CBD has been marketed as a healthy tool and is now infused in morning coffee, smoothies, creams oils and even bath bombs with the purpose being to relieve pain or help with relaxation, there is still much about it that we do not know. CBD is not risk free.
Possible side effects of CBD use include:
- Liver damage
- Interference with other drugs
- Drowsiness or sleepiness
- Diarrhea or changes in appetite
- Changes in mood
There is a common misconception that you cannot become addicted to marijuana. Unfortunately, this is just a myth. Marijuana addiction can happen to anyone who uses the drug with regularity.
Here are some key signs and symptoms to look out for if you suspect that you or your loved one is experiencing a problem stopping marijuana use.
- Negative impact on your career and social life
- Daily cravings
- Increased tolerance
- Withdrawal from social activities
- Inability to engage in daily tasks
- Impairment during inappropriate or dangerous situations
- Desire to stop using without being able to
Marijuana dependency can be much harder to spot than other substance abuse issues. Heavy users tend to lack motivation and avoid social engagement. In extreme cases, however, habitual marijuana use can lead to short-term psychosis. According to the DSM-5, any combination of two or more of the preceding symptoms indicates that you may have marijuana use disorder.
Marijuana can be a deceptive drug. There is a cult of personality surrounding its use and no shortage of false information regarding marijuana’s effects. Many adherents will tell you that marijuana is non-addictive, but the truth is to the contrary. Habitual cannabis use can have a profound and detrimental effect on your social life as well as your psychosocial wellbeing.
At ARC, we employ a mix of traditional, psychiatric and therapeutic care. Once you begin treatment with us, we can help you leave your marijuana dependency behind as you identify new, more effective ways to manage your anxiety, depression or other underlying issues.
With fentanyl-laced marijuana on the rise in illegal drug markets, risk of death by overdose is now a significant concern for users. If you are concerned that you’ve become dependent on marijuana dependency, there is good news. Help is available. And here at Authentic Recovery Center, we treat marijuana dependency in a safe, supportive environment using evidence-based, trauma-informed holistic treatment methods.