If you or a loved one are facing an addiction to marijuana, you’ll be looking for answers to the myriad of questions you no doubt have. Pot is often considered lesser of drug evils, but it’s still dangerous. What is the real truth behind your weed-smoking habit? We have answers for your questions.
Is marijuana actually addictive? Is it a “gateway” drug to harder substances? Can you really smoke marijuana and stay in control of your use? Here, you’ll find the answers to all your questions. If you need more help, be assured the knowledgeable staff here at 12 Keys Rehab is on hand 24/7 to help.
If you feel your current drug use needs to be addressed and has spiraled out of control, our understanding multidisciplinary treatment team will equip you with all the tools you need to kick your habit.
Our friendly staff has years of experience of helping people who are overcoming weed addiction. Just read on to find out all about the marijuana and addiction facts you need to know, and to see how we can help you or your loved one get clean and weed-free.
Marijuana is derived from the hemp plant, also known as cannabis sativa, and is a greenish gray-colored mix of its shredded, dried flowers and leaves. There are vast numbers of slang terms for the drug, including:
Hashish is a related drug that is made from Indian hemp plant resin, and can be on average six times more potent than regular marijuana.
The name “cannabis” refers to all drugs that derive from the Indian hemp plant. The main mind-altering psychoactive chemical found in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is what gives you the “hit,” although there are also 500 other chemicals called cannabinoids in the hemp plant, including more than 100 that are related to THC.
You can also obtain highly concentrated resins such as hash oil, budder and shatter. These are popular among both medicinal and recreational users.
When you’re using marijuana, the most common way to do so is to make hand-rolled cigarettes, known as joints, or you may use a pipe or a water pipe, often called a bong. You can also slice open a cigar and place the drug inside. This is called a blunt.
If you use the drug for medicinal purposes, you’re more likely to bake it into foods, such as cakes or cookies, or to brew tea to sip on.
The History of Marijuana
Anthropologists have discovered evidence of marijuana leaves and seeds in burial sites around the world, including India, China, Egypt and Romania. It was typically used during religious and spiritual ceremonies, and it has also been discovered alongside mummies and historical sites. Pipes containing marijuana residue were also discovered buried in the garden of Shakespeare’s famous home in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Although marijuana has been in existence for thousands of years, the psychoactive substance was legal only until the early 20th century. The United States criminalized marijuana in 1906, and several countries followed suit. In 1937 the U.S. also criminalized hemp, the cannabis fiber used to create fabric. Today marijuana is the world’s most-used drug by a wide margin.
During the past ten years, American attitudes concerning marijuana have changed. While the reasons for this shift are not fully clear, a greater interest in marijuana as a medical remedy and the support of the drug by those who participated in the 1960s counterculture movement have likely played significant roles. Marijuana is now legal in many states for medical use and in two states for recreational use. Some states have also decriminalized marijuana possession.
What Does Marijuana Do to the Brain?
When you smoke marijuana, THC and other chemicals pass from the plant to your bloodstream, and then on to your brain. Shortly after you first puff of weed, you’ll begin to experience the effects of the drug.
THC activates the reward system of your brain and releases dopamine, which, in turn, gives you a “high.” You’ll generally tend to feel relaxed and pleasantly euphoric. You may also experience increased appetite — the “munchies” — altered time perception, uncontrollable laughter and heightened sensory perception.
If you take the drug in drinks or food, the effects can be delayed by as long as 30 minutes to an hour, as the drug needs to pass through your digestive system. Drinking and eating the drug delivers less THC into your bloodstream than smoking marijuana. This can be dangerous if you’re using the substance in this way, as you may inadvertently intake more THC than you originally intended.
Physiologically speaking, cannabinoid chemicals and THC are similar to the naturally occurring ones in your body. Your own endogenous cannabinoids, for example, anandamide, work as neurotransmitters, sending chemical messages between the neurons, or nerve cells, within your nervous system.
These endogenous cannabinoids affect the parts of your brain that influence:
- Sensory and time perception
How Does It Work?
When you take marijuana, THC attaches to cannabinoid receptors on neurons in these areas of the brain and subsequently activates them.
This process disrupts certain physical and mental functions and causes the effects described earlier. This is particularly detrimental, as interfering with the natural process of the functioning of your nervous system can have profoundly negative effects.
THC can alter the way the orbitofrontal cortex and the hippocampus function. These are areas of the brain that allow you to make new memories and shift the focus of your attention. If you’re using marijuana, it can interfere with your ability to perform complicated tasks, learn new things and impair your thinking.
THC also has a negative effect on the areas of your brain that are responsible for regulating:
- Reaction times
If you’re a driver or you play sports, this can result in huge and potentially dangerous problems.
Other Marijuana Addiction Symptoms
A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, (PNAS), concluded that if you start heavily smoking marijuana as a teenager, and continue on to have a cannabis use disorder, you will lose on average eight IQ points by the time you’re 38.
Alarmingly, these lost mental abilities don’t entirely return if you quit smoking as an adult. But the signs of marijuana addiction in adults who begin smoking marijuana later in life don’t include notable declines in IQ.
Although many users report pleasurable feelings after taking marijuana, you may find the drug makes you feel fearful, panicky and anxious, particularly when you take a lot of it. If this sounds like you, then it’s time to seek help.
How Addictive Is Marijuana?
You might be thinking marijuana is a relatively “safe” drug. After all, it’s legal in some states and used for medicinal purposes, right? Even though this is a commonly held misconception, the truth is marijuana is addictive.
Marijuana use can become problematic and severely addictive, and this can be difficult to cope with when you’re overcoming marijuana addiction. Recent statistics published in JAMA Psychiatry have shown nearly 30 percent of users of the drug may have some degree of marijuana use disorder. If you use the drug before you’re 18, you’re between four and seven times more likely to develop a use disorder than an adult beginning to take marijuana, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
These marijuana abuse symptoms usually tend to show up within a week of stopping and can last as long as two weeks. A marijuana use disorder becomes an even more worrying addiction when you just can’t stop using the drug, even though it’s obvious it’s interfering with many aspects of your daily life.
This goes to show that marijuana use and addiction is a huge problem in the U.S. today. In fact, figures from a 2014 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) report state 4.176 million people in the country abuse or are dependent on marijuana.
Who Is Typically Abusing Marijuana?
Users of marijuana come from all walks of life, and many people smoke it recreationally. Therefore, there is no absolute profile of a marijuana abuser.
That said, many adolescents and young adults smoke the drug. This is particularly worrying as young people are at a time in their lives when they should be planning for their future, learning and growing. Marijuana addiction can ruin your focus and motivation and can cause you to lose your dreams before they’ve even begun.
Chronic marijuana abusers often suffer from a distinct lack of motivation. As a result, educational goals can fall by the wayside, as you can’t find the energy to focus on your assignments and exams.
What Types Of Co-Occurring Disorders Exist With Marijuana?
You may have been wondering if there is a connection between mental health and substance abuse. Even though these two may seem to be very different, they don’t exist in isolation. Many people coping with an addiction are addicted as a result of self-medicating for stress or depression.
Taking marijuana can bring on or exacerbate mental issues, too, so it’s important to be aware of the potential for your drug use to coexist alongside a mental health problem.
If you’re suffering from a co-occurring disorder, you’re likely to be experiencing even more serious symptoms than you would if you were only experiencing an isolated addiction. You’ll battle social and emotional difficulties, and are at high risk of relapsing and experiencing a further deterioration of your mental health.
This is why it is so important to seek professional help when you feel you may be suffering from a co-occurring or dual-diagnosis disorder. You can’t safely wean yourself off marijuana alone, particularly when your mental well-being is also involved. Here at 12 Keys, we understand what you’re facing, since many of us are recovering ourselves, and we know there is achievable long-lasting sobriety ahead of you.
Common co-occurring disorders that exist alongside marijuana abuse include schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder.
Cannabis Addiction and Mental Health Facts
Before reading this information, you may have believed marijuana to be a harmless drug. However, it can cause severe issues when used in the presence of an underlying mental issue.
According to The American Journal of Psychiatry, around 50 percent of people suffering from schizophrenia have a co-occurring substance abuse problem, usually relating to cannabis or alcohol and at a rate of three times the general U.S. population.
With figures such as these, it’s important we educate ourselves about mental health, as well as substance abuse, and that we openly talk about it to break the stigma.
What is the Addiction Rate of Marijuana?
You might share the popular opinion that marijuana is a safe drug. However, it is addictive. According to the aforementioned research documented in JAMA Psychiatry, 30 percent of users are likely to go on to be addicted. That’s a lot of people having problems with a so-called “safe” drug.
What Are the Key Statistics About Abuse of and Addiction to Marijuana?
Now you know that marijuana isn’t exactly the harmless substance people like to think it is. What are the marijuana addiction facts that matter? Here are a few:
- Figures from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) show that marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug in the country with 22.2 million current users.
- According to the Monitoring the Future survey, a yearly survey of drug use among young people, teenagers don’t equate marijuana with much of a risk.
- The study also found that in 2015, 11.8 percent of kids in 8th grade had used the drug in the past year, with 6.5 percent using it currently. Of the 10th graders asked, more than 25 percent had used marijuana in the past year, with 14.8 percent using it currently.
- The same study turned up some alarming figures for the cannabis addiction rate of 12th graders — 34.9 percent had used marijuana in the year before the survey, 21.3 percent were current users, and 6 percent used the drug on a daily basis.
- If you’re still under the impression marijuana is a safe drug, take a look at these figures from the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN). Almost 456,000 drug-related E.R. visits in the U.S. noted marijuana use in the medical record. This doesn’t necessarily mean these emergencies were directly related to weed intoxication, but they certainly offer food for thought.
What Are the Signs of a Marijuana Addiction?
If you’re worried you or someone you love may be addicted to the drug, there are many marijuana addiction signs you can look out for. These include:
- tolerance. If you’re having to smoke more and more of the drug to feel the same effects, this is called tolerance and indicates that you could be addicted.
- Withdrawal. If you begin to show symptoms of marijuana withdrawal when you’re not taking the drug, there’s a very good chance you’re addicted. You may be unable to sleep or suffer from a loss of appetite. You need to get professional detox help if you’re experiencing any unpleasant marijuana abuse symptoms.
- Spending lots of time getting high. If you’re spending your days getting high and not doing much else, there is a very good chance you’re addicted.
- Loss of control. If you’ve tried and failed to cut back on your marijuana use, you could be addicted.
- Choosing friends who take the drug. If you’re spending most of your time with friends who smoke, rather than ones who don’t, you have a problem.
- Smoking marijuana to relax. If you’re in the habit of smoking a joint as your only means of relaxation, you need to seek help now. There are so many ways of relaxing that don’t involve taking illicit substances.
- Ignoring your responsibilities. If your life revolves around smoking weed and you’re not taking care of other aspects of your life, such as going to work, you have a real problem, and it’s time to seek help now.
- Continuing to get high despite the consequences. If smoking weed has been causing problems in your life and you’re still continuing nonetheless, it’s likely you’re addicted.
- Smoking pot to escape. If you’re using the drug to escape reality, you’re addicted. You need to seek help so you can deal with your life without using drugs.
Here at 12 Keys Rehab, we can help you take those first steps on the road to clean and healthy living.
What Are the Symptoms of a Marijuana Addiction?
When you think of someone who is addicted to marijuana, you may tend to visualize the typical hippie-type of individual, just lazing around smoking. However, there are many varied symptoms of weed addiction.
- Sense of well-being
- Surreal feelings
- Feeling high or stoned
- Impaired judgment
- Slowed speech
- Intense hunger — the “munchies”
- Dry mouth
- Laughing and giggling
- Being unable to sleep
- Expanded blood vessels in the eye
- Red eyes
- Phlegm production
- Respiratory infections
- Impaired reaction time
- Impaired coordination
- Relaxed and enlarged bronchial passages
- Abnormally rapid heart rate
- Heart attack
- Lowered cognitive ability
- Decreased memory
- Heightened sensory perception
- Altered time perception
- Inability to form new memories
- Loss of sense of identity
- Schizophrenia-like symptoms
What Is a Marijuana Addiction Like?
As you can see from the symptoms and signs of cannabis addiction above, being addicted to marijuana is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. When you’re caught in the grip of it and you’re desperate to figure out how to overcome weed addiction, you’ll feel alone and completely overwhelmed. You may have even tried to kick the habit on your own. However, the withdrawal process can be very painful and debilitating.
Being addicted to the drug can cause a whole host of problems, such as:
- Impaired memory
- Impaired cognitive function
- Increased risk of lung cancer
- Lack of get-up-and-go
- Worsened symptoms for those who suffer from schizophrenia
- Suicidal thoughts
Clearly, the negative points of marijuana far outweigh any potential positives. If you think you or someone you care for is addicted, it’s time to get into marijuana rehab now.
Does a Marijuana Addiction Cause Any Permanent Damage?
As we touched on previously, marijuana use can reduce your IQ if you start taking the drug in your teens, and these lost mental abilities never fully return. The drug negatively affects your brain development, and if you take it when you’re young it adversely affects your memory, thinking and learning functions. This can be something that’s long lasting or even permanent in some cases.
There can be many lasting marijuana signs of abuse, as the drug has the potential to give you breathing illnesses, such as lung infections or a chronic cough. Smoking the drug poses the same lung-damaging effects as smoking tobacco.
Smoking weed increases your risk of a heart attack or stroke, as it ups your heart rate for several hours after ingesting the drug. It can also aggravate pre-existing heart conditions.
Long-term use of the drug can mean you also run the risk of paranoia, hallucinations and even potential harm to your unborn baby’s brain if you use the drug when you’re pregnant.
When you use marijuana long-term, you can also develop temporary mental illness. If you’re a schizophrenia sufferer, your symptoms can be greatly exacerbated.
Is There a Relationship Between Marijuana and Liver Damage?
Marijuana itself doesn’t tend to cause liver damage. However, most weed contains impurities that could potentially be damaging to your liver. If you’re taking the drug and you have difficulty walking or feel dizzy when you’re high, it could be affecting your liver.
In addition, if the area around your liver feels sensitive when you touch it, you could have a problem and will need to seek help immediately for your addiction.
Another important aspect to consider is the theory that pot is a gateway drug. You might begin smoking it and move on to other, even more harmful drugs that could potentially damage many of the organs in your body, including your liver.
There is some research to suggest that marijuana users are more likely than non-users to develop a problem with liver-destroying alcohol within a three-year period. You’re more likely than a non-smoker to find yourself with an addiction to nicotine if you include tobacco in your joints.
There are many other factors to take into consideration in terms of the gateway drug theory. If you are in an environment that revolves around heavy drug use, you will be more likely to try a more dangerous drug, whether or not you’re involved in taking pot. The best way to avoid moving on to other drugs is to detox from the one you’re taking at the moment, and start living a clean and active life again.
How Does Marijuana Interact With Other Drugs?
In terms of medical, as well as illicit drugs, there are a few that interact with weed. Therefore, you need to be careful and make sure you research any potential interactions between whatever you’re taking. For example:
- Marijuana may increase your bleeding risk when taken with blood thinners, NSAIDs, aspirin or antiplatelet drugs.
- You should be careful if you’re taking drugs for diabetes and are also taking marijuana, as your blood sugar could be adversely affected.
- Pot may cause low blood pressure, so you need to be careful if you’re on medication that lowers your blood pressure.
- The drug can exacerbate the drowsiness caused by benzodiazepines like diazepam, barbiturates, narcotics, antidepressants and alcohol.
- Marijuana also doesn’t react well when mixed with cocaine, synthetic cannabinoids and ecstasy.
If you are in doubt about how drugs you’re taking will interact, don’t leave anything to chance. Contact your doctor as soon as possible for advice. It could just save your health and even your life.
How Long Does It Take to Withdraw From Marijuana?
The process of withdrawal from marijuana generally takes from a few days up to a month to get the drug out of your system. The exact time will be dependent on your overall health, your metabolism, your weight, the fluids you consume, the amount of marijuana you’ve taken and the length of time you’ve been taking the drug.
One issue to remember when detoxing from marijuana is due to its chemical structure, THC can easily hang around in the body’s fat tissues for quite a while. If this happens, then your withdrawal stage will only be complete when the drug is flushed from your system entirely. This tends to be an issue if you’ve been a long-term marijuana user.
What Are the Stages of Marijuana Withdrawal?
If you use marijuana regularly for a long time, it can lead to an addiction that will come with some withdrawal symptoms when you try to kick the habit, including:
- Lack of appetite
- Mood swings
The above withdrawal symptoms should peak around the third or fourth day of quitting the drug. Within a week or two of being completely drug free, your withdrawal symptoms should have disappeared entirely.
If you’ve been using for a while, you may find your symptoms last longer. Thankfully, here at 12 Keys Rehab, we offer holistic treatment and counseling to overcome all the issues presented by your addiction. Throughout your cannabis rehab, we’ll also help equip you with the skills to move forward in your journey toward being drug free.
In addition to helping you get through the physical side effects, we also help you to conquer the mental effects of stopping the drug. These include:
- Lack of desire to be social or social intolerance
- Feeling persecuted
- Schizophrenic behavior
- Lack of motivation
- Mental and physical impairment
- Reduced cognitive skills
There is life after pot addiction, and we can help you find it. Just contact us today to take the first steps to freedom.
How Can I Help My Loved One Recover From a Marijuana Addiction?
If you’re reading this and recognize the signs and symptoms of marijuana abuse and addiction in someone you love, don’t panic. You can help show them how to break their marijuana addiction.
There is plenty of help and advice at hand from our friendly, knowledgeable and supportive team here at 12 Keys Rehab. No matter how long they’ve been using and to what extent, they can take advantage of our 24/7 support throughout their entire journey toward being drug-free.
Perhaps your loved one recognizes they’ve got a problem and the signs of marijuana abuse in their life are clear cut. This is good and means getting through to them to get the help they need should be all the easier. However, many people who are addicted don’t even realize the issue. They may be so entrenched in their habit that they consider it “normal.” Either way, 12 Keys Rehab is here to help you with a team of understanding professionals who can help stage an intervention or talk your loved into making the smart decision.
How to Help a Loved One Overcome Marijuana Addiction
If your loved one feels their marijuana use is OK and is making their life better, it’ll be difficult to convince them to stop smoking their drug of choice. You may have to really work with them to remind them of what life used to be like before their reliance on drugs began.
There are a few things you can do:
- Steer clear of enabling behaviors. It’s difficult not to give your loved one money or shelter when they seem to need it so badly, but when you know that this will just help them buy drugs, you need to practice tough love.
- Positively enable your loved one. You can do this by working alongside your friend or family member to help them get clean. Talk to them about their options, tell them about 12 Keys Rehab support, and inform them that rehab has been consistently proven to bring about quality and sustained sobriety.
- Seek out the help of professionals. Here at 12 Keys Rehab, we are only a call away. We have many years of combined experience in helping people from all walks of life beat addiction. Let us help your loved one, too.
How Do You Safely Detox From Marijuana?
When you’re thinking of detoxing from marijuana, the best option is to quit with help. Due to the many dangerous symptoms of marijuana withdrawal — and also the fact that marijuana is now more potent than it has ever been — it is important to go through detox with the help of experience healthcare professionals.
Detoxing from marijuana can be very uncomfortable, which can make you more likely to give up and relapse. This is why coming to 12 Keys Rehab is an excellent treatment option. We can help you through your darkest of days and into the light again.
Dangers for Severe Addicts Quitting Marijuana Without Assistance
The longer you have been using the drug, the more severe your detox symptoms will be, and if you don’t quit with assistance, you’ll run a real risk of relapsing and falling into a deeper downward spiral. If you feel you need help quitting marijuana, call our understanding team today for an informal chat about your next steps forward.
How Is a Marijuana Addiction Treated?
Although the long-term clinical outcomes are generally less severe, marijuana addiction seems to be similar to other substance use disorders. The average adult seeking treatment for their marijuana abuse has been using the drug almost daily for over ten years, and has tried to quit the habit more than six times.
When you’re addicted to marijuana, the signs couldn’t be clearer. And if you’re worried about your drug use or that of someone close to you, it’s important to act quickly. In addition to the actual drug addiction, there could be other substance abuse going on, as well as a co-occurring disorder. For this reason, it’s important to seek professional help when quitting pot.
Here at 12 Keys Rehab, we offer a comprehensive and fully tailored plan that treats every aspect of the symptoms and signs of weed addiction, and of you as an individual. Working together with you, we help you regain balance within your body, mind and spirit.
Our successful treatment programs last for 30, 60 or 90 days, and are a mixture of hard work and relaxation, ensuring you have every opportunity to heal again.
To give you the best start in your new drug-free life path, we help you obtain a sponsor who has walked a similar path to you and who has been successfully clean for a long time. A living embodiment of the 12 Steps, your sponsor will help mentor you throughout your recovery.
It doesn’t stop there, either. We will create for you a fully tailored personal aftercare plan that will help you to maintain your sobriety throughout your life.
Choosing 12 Keys Rehab as Yout Marijuana Recovery Treatment Center
If you’ve been unsuccessfully trying to quit taking pot and it’s interfering with your life, seeking professional treatment should be your next move.
At 12 Keys Rehab, marijuana addiction treatment is just one of our specialties. We focus on you as an individual and work closely with you throughout your recovery process to make sure you get set on the path to lifelong sobriety. Contact us today to set your first foot on the road to lasting recovery.
Call to get help now