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Marijuana Addiction

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Marijuana Addiction

marijuana-addictionThe Reality of Marijuana Addiction

With the large increase in marijuana use that has transpired over the last few decades, marijuana addiction has become an undeniable threat to society. The general dangers previously associated with marijuana use have become lowered, and as a result, the use and abuse of cannabis has increased, leading to more cases of addiction. Based on findings done by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 9% of people who use the illegal drug will develop a marijuana addiction problem. That number rises to 17% for those who started their use in their teenage years. Between 25 and 50 percent of people who use cannabis daily become addicted.

What is Marijuana?

Marijuana, or cannabis, is a mixture of dried leaves and flowers of the cannabis sativa plant, also known as the hemp plant. It is referred to by many names, including weed, grass, Mary Jane, pot, herb, ganja and bud. It is most commonly smoked through a bong (water pipe), as a hand-rolled cigarette (a joint), a blunt wrap and in pipes.  People can also brew it as a tea or bake it into foods, such as cookies and brownies.

Concentrated forms of cannabis made from its’ resins, are called hash or hash oil. The potency of cannabis has been increasing over the last few years from 7.5% to 16% THC (the active component in cannabis) content in the sinsemilla; the female version of the plant. Hash oil has been known to contain very high levels of THC (50% to 80%).

For many years, groups of people have tried to get cannabis changed from a Schedule I drug, meaning it has no medical value and a high chance for abuse, to a Schedule II drug which permits medicinal use. Marijuana is currently still considered a Schedule I drug.

What are the Health Effects of Marijuana Abuse and Addiction?

Continued use of cannabis can have several effects on a person’s health, both mentally and physically. The following explains some of the associated risks:

  • Physical problems – Difficulties with breathing can become an issue, since it is most often inhaled. Smoking cannabis negatively affects the lungs the same way that tobacco can. This means that the possibility of lung infections and lung diseases are common. The risk of a heart attack is increased due to the elevation in heart rate after smoking cannabis.

There are complications that can occur in a child’s development during pregnancy and the breast feeding stage. These problems affect a child’s mental development such as memory, problem solving and attention.

  • Mental problems – The mental effects of an addiction to marijuana include hallucinations that can cause a person to experience severe stress and anxiety. Paranoia is also common and abuse of the drug can worsen symptoms of mental disorders such as schizophrenia. There has recently been a link made between marijuana use and depression, anxiety and suicidal behavior among teens.

Furthermore, cannabis enters the bloodstream and then absorbs into various organs, as well as the brain. It predominantly overstimulates the part of the brain associated with development and function, resulting in mood changes and fluctuations in the way a person perceives time, their senses and their bodily movement. A person will have increased trouble with problem solving skills and impaired memory.

What is the Treatment for Marijuana Addiction?

There are no medications that appear to counteract marijuana addiction, therefore, the most successful treatment approach is behavioral modification. Marijuana addiction treatment can be approached in an inpatient living rehab facility for severe cases. Outpatient programs, where a person attends individual counseling sessions or group therapy sessions, can also be helpful. A frequently employed method of treatment involves rewarding positive behavior, such as passing a drug test, with low-cost compensations as incentives.

 The problems experienced by people going through withdrawal include grouchiness, anxiety, cravings, a decrease in appetite and fatigue. After treatment, a person may continue to experience cravings from time to time, which make effective relapse prevention techniques an important  part of the treatment program.

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