Marijuana Use and Abuse

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Common Questions About Marijuana

Is Marijuana Addictive?

Marijuana (“cannabis” or “weed”) is a mind-altering drug that contains many compounds.1 The one most known for causing its effects is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. According to the U. S. Drug Enforcement Agency, marijuana is addictive and may require treatment and therapy at a rehab facility.1

What is Marijuana’s Drug Class?

Currently, cannabis is a Schedule I drug in the U. S. Drug Enforcement Agency.1 This means it has no medical use and has a high potential to be addictive. This can be confusing because it is also used for medical purposes, including to stimulate appetite and reduce nausea and pain. Right now, the drug remains on the drug schedule and is illegal in many states.

Is Marijuana Safe?

Cannabis is becoming legal in more states under various rules for use. However, legalization doesn’t equal safety – the same is true for cigarettes.2 Doctors know that cannabis has a number of harmful health effects including:

  • Heart damage
  • Lung damage
  • Memory problems
  • Doctors also know that cannabis use can increase risks for anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia.2

What are it’s Street Names?

Street names include:1

  • Aunt Mary
  • BC Bud
  • Chronic
  • Dope
  • Ganja
  • Grass
  • Hash
  • Herb
  • Mary Jane
  • Pot
  • Reefer
  • Skunk
  • Smoke
  • Weed

How is it Used?

Weed is typically used in cigarette form, known as a joint, or in a pipe or an apparatus known as a bong. However, a mixture of weed with food or candies is now prevalent, and the products are called edibles. Weed brewed in tea is also a manner for taking the drug.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an estimated 45 percent of people ages twelve or older have used weed in their lifetime.3


What are the Short-Term Effects of Marijuana?

The use of cannabis may induce feelings of relaxation, sedation, and lack of inhibitions, and can result in feeling very hungry, due to cannabis use.

Not all of the effects of cannabis are potentially positive ones. Other short-term effects include:

  • Affected memory
  • Breathing problems
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Fast heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Problems thinking clearly
  • Poor reaction times

Long-Term Effects of Cannabis Use

One of the concerns for long-term use is that its potency has increased considerably over the past thirty years.4 The more potent it is, the more concerned doctors are about long-term effects. This is especially true for harmful effects on memory and thinking.

Also, doctors have linked weed use while pregnant with increased risks for problems with learning and memory later in life. Cannabis also contains some chemicals that doctors know to cause cancer.

Can You Overdose on Weed?

It is not likely to overdose on weed. Different reactions to the drug are possible, including seizures, which can be life-threatening. There is a possibility, as well, that weed acquired from unregulated dealers could be of different strength or quality or laced with other drugs that could lead to dangerous medical complications.

How do I Stop Using Marijuana?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an estimated four million people in the United States met the criteria for drug dependence in the past month. Of these, an estimated 138,000 sought treatment for cannabis use in the past year.4

What is Withdrawal from Weed Like?

Doctors don’t associate weed withdrawals with severe symptoms. However, withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Poor appetite
  • Changes in mood
  • Problems sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Strong cravings for the drug
  • Feelings of anxiety and depression
  • Upset stomach

Treatment for Marijuana Addiction

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the average seeker of treatment for cannabis addiction has used weed for more than ten years and has tried to quit smoking the drug six times or more.5

Some of the approaches a doctor may use to treat marijuana use include:

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): This approach teaches positive behaviors and ways to recognize how thoughts affect addiction.

Contingency management: This approach involves giving rewards based on sobriety and positive behaviors in recovery.

Motivational enhancement therapy: This includes helping an individual find their own motivations for sobriety.




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