Marijuana is a drug from the cannabis plant. The mind-altering effects come from THC, a compound present naturally in the plant. Although marijuana is not believed to be nearly as addictive or destructive as many other substances of abuse, there is increasing evidence that frequent use can result in some level of dependence. For this reason, professional intervention is sometimes required to help individuals get clean and remain in recovery over the long-term.
Effects of Marijuana
Smoking, vaping, or oral consumption all yield similar effects, though they are not the same for everyone. Depending on the method of administration, effects usually onset after 30 minutes to one hour of use and can last for several hours.
Effects commonly include the following:
- Increased senses
- Altered sense of time
- Feeling humorous
- Mood changes
- Decreased body movement
- Impaired thinking
- Poor memory
Ingesting too much marijuana can cause people to experience hallucinations, delusions, and even psychosis. These symptoms may also occur in individuals who are predisposed to them, including those who have schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
According to NIDA, long-term term adverse effects related to chronic marijuana use are of concern. Especially when used by adolescents, weed can impair thinking, memory, and essential learning functions that establish connections in the brain. Researchers are still trying to determine if any long-term damage comes from marijuana use. However, examples of lowered IQ in adults have been observed who started using weed when they were young.
Previously, researchers did not think marijuana was addictive. However, in recent years, that view has changed a bit. Levels of THC in weed have steadily risen, thereby making dependence and other adverse effects more likely. According to NIDA, as much as 30% of marijuana users may develop some level of dependency, and people who begin using it before age 18 are up to seven times more likely to develop an addiction than those who first use it as adults.
Although dependence does not necessarily equal addiction, it is possible that it will lead to it. When a person is dependent, their body is accustomed to the substance’s presence. He or she is more likely to engage in compulsive drug-seeking and using, which is the hallmark sign of addiction.
There are both physical and psycho-emotional side effects associated with using marijuana. Physical symptoms can include breathing issues, elevated heart rate, nausea, and vomiting. People who use marijuana for a prolonged period may be at a heightened risk for depression, anxiety, hallucinations, paranoia, disorganized thinking, and suicidal ideations.
While no known amount of marijuana will result in a lethal overdose, it is certainly possible to experience severe and disturbing symptoms, such as anxiety and paranoia. Also, people do occasionally end up going to the ER after having a psychotic reaction to marijuana. Likewise, dizziness that leads to nausea and vomiting can facilitate the need for medical treatment.
Withdrawing from weed comes with a handful of withdrawal symptoms that can make it difficult to quit. Some of these symptoms include:
- Sleep problems, especially insomnia
- Negative mood, possibly anger
- Decreased appetite
- Cravings to use the drug
- Excessive sweating
- Stomach pains
There are currently no approved medical approaches to treat a person withdrawing from marijuana, but many detox programs can treat individual symptoms and provide emotional support. Behavioral therapies have been successful in helping people to achieve sobriety and stay clean. And in a detox program, medical professionals can prescribe medications that relieve specific withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches or nausea, to aid in the detox process.
Risks of Detoxing Without Help
Perhaps the most significant risk of undergoing a weed detox on your own is relapse. When you choose to detox with the support of health professionals in a safe and secure environment, you are much less likely to relapse, and getting through this early stage is sometimes all it takes to help people avoid reverting to using.
Also, detoxing at home may not provide you with the emotional support you need to help you navigate potentially adverse thoughts and feelings that may develop during withdrawal. Addiction specialists, therapists, and counselors can help during this process, and medication may be prescribed to reduce symptoms of depression or anxiety.
Getting Treatment for Marijuana Dependence
As noted, withdrawal symptoms associated with discontinuing marijuana are usually relatively mild. However, without professional treatment, relapse rates during this period are high. If you have attempted to quit weed multiple times and have returned to using, undergoing weed detox and a rehab program may be the right approach to try.
If you are ready to take the next step toward long-lasting sobriety and wellness, contact us today and find out how we can help!