Marijuana Use and Abuse
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I substance which means it’s thought to have a high potential for abuse. Many users believe that marijuana and its active ingredients are not addictive. They are mistaken. Addiction can occur and users may need marijuana rehab to gain recovery.
Marijuana is frequently referred to as weed because it comes from the Cannabis sativa plant. It goes by many other names, too, including pot, herb, reefer and dope. The plant is dried then smoked either as a cigarette (known as a reefer) or with a pipe. It can also be mixed with food or brewed as a tea.
Marijuana contains the mind-altering chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other related compounds called cannabinoids. When ingested, these chemicals enter the bloodstream and travel to the brain where they bind to receptors that effect the mind and body in various ways. Users may feel a sense of happiness or euphoria, relaxation and increased sociability. Other effects include:
- Altered senses (for example, seeing brighter colors)
- Altered sense of time
- Changes in mood
- Impaired body movement
- Difficulty with thinking and problem-solving
- Impaired memory
Cannabinoids are known to produce certain beneficial effects in patients suffering from various maladies including anorexia, chemotherapy side effects, chronic pain, inflammatory bowel disorders, movement disorders, multiple sclerosis, nausea, neuropathic pain and rheumatoid arthritis. For that reason, 25 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of medical marijuana. Recreational use of marijuana is legal in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington and the District of Columbia. Despite these changes at the state level, marijuana is illegal under federal law.
Marijuana is especially popular among young people. The DEA reports that marijuana is the most popular drug used by high school seniors. According to a 2015 survey nearly one in five high school seniors reported using the drug in the past 30 days. This is particularly disturbing because “Cannabis use is emerging as one among many interacting factors that can affect brain development and mental function,” according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. One study found that people who started smoking marijuana heavily in their teens and had an ongoing cannabis use disorder lost an average of eight IQ points between ages 13 and 38. Facts like these explain why centers for rehab for weed have many young patients.
In addition to mental impairment, marijuana can have a number of damaging physical side effects. Chronic marijuana users are prone to many of the same respiratory ailments as tobacco smokers including difficulty breathing and a greater susceptibility to lung infections. Marijuana use elevates the heart rate possibly endangering those with heart problems. And use during pregnancy may impair the development of the fetus. Negative effects like these all contribute to the need for effective rehab for weed for addicted users.