Marijuana is the drug of choice for more than 4.5 million of the estimated 7.1 million Americans addicted to illegal drugs. In fact, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug used in the United States. In the lives of many chronic pot-smokers, marijuana use is not perceived as a problem. For countless others, though, marijuana addiction presents a very real crisis –one they admit they feel powerless over.
The bottom line is: marijuana is a drug. Period.
This means, if you are currently addicted to marijuana, you have a drug problem. The question is, are you ready to get help? Although it is easy to convince yourself that marijuana is not big deal because, after all, “it’s only weed;” the reality is that marijuana does have its ill side effects. It is not only costly in financial terms –and can lead to legal troubles, problems at work and conflicts at home –it can also cause long-term health problems.
Still not convinced? Keep reading.
Research has shown that the chronic use of marijuana can have a long-lasting impact on the structure and function of the human brain. Specifically, marijuana affects the brain’s ability to acquire and retain new information because it impacts both short-term and long-term memory processes. This means someone who has abused marijuana will have a more difficult time learning new concepts and remembering those concepts. Plus, marijuana abusers typically have a “foggy” recollection of events, conversations and activities. This is true long after they stop smoking pot
There have also been a number of studies that connect chronic marijuana use and mental illness.
According to these studies, when taken in high doses, marijuana can cause psychotic reactions like hallucinations and paranoia. Marijuana is also said to cause other mental health problems like depression, anxiety, disturbances in personality and a general lack of motivation to participate in social activities.
Additionally, marijuana can cause physical health issues. For starters, it irritates the lungs and can cause many of the same respiratory problems experienced by cigarette smokers. (Lung infections and respiratory problems are common among heavy marijuana users.) Also, marijuana has been linked to obesity, lethargy, insomnia and other negative health conditions.
Here are just a few more quick facts about the harmful effects of marijuana, provided by NIDA:
- Marijuana raises heart rate by 20-100 percent shortly after smoking. This means marijuana users have a 4.8-fold increase in the risk of heart attack within one hour after smoking the drug.
- Marijuana use more than doubles a driver’s risk of being in an accident while under the influence.
- Marijuana abuse has been linked to an increased risk of an aggressive type of testicular cancer in young men.
- Marijuana causes impaired coordination, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, and disrupted learning and memory.
You might be surprised to find that it is not as easy to quit marijuana as you might think. Long-term marijuana smokers report withdrawal symptoms that include irritability, extreme cravings, sleeplessness, change in appetite and other difficulties.
If you have a problem with marijuana, you might need professional help. There is no shame in acknowledging this –marijuana is a drug, remember? Think about it!