Marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug in the U.S. Typically smoked in joints (cigarettes), blunts (cigars) or pipes, or mixed with food, marijuana’s active chemical – THC – activates areas of the brain responsible for pleasure. In addition to producing relaxation and euphoria, users experience distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, and difficulties with thinking, learning and memory.
Consequences of Marijuana Use
After smoking marijuana, it takes only a few minutes for the heart to speed up and blood vessels in the eyes to expand (hence the red eyes and use of eye drops frequently associated with smoking pot). Like other drugs, marijuana affects users’ physical health, increasing the risk of heart palpitations, arrhythmias and heart attack as well as respiratory problems such as chronic cough, chest illness and lung infections. Far from harmless, heavy and consistent marijuana users report a number of problems including:
- Profound dissatisfaction with life
- Poor mental and physical health
- Interpersonal conflict
- Academic and career failures
Mental illness, such as depression, anxiety and psychosis, is frequently associated with chronic marijuana use. High doses cause severe paranoia and hallucinations. Especially among adolescent and young adult smokers, studies reflect a link between marijuana use and the development of psychosis.
Marijuana Is Addictive
Few drugs are more misunderstood than marijuana. Widespread misconceptions abound, including the belief that marijuana is harmless and non-addictive. Like all drugs, marijuana poses clear risks. With the potency of marijuana reaching a historical high+, marijuana addiction is an even greater concern. More people are showing up in emergency departments and addiction treatment programs with problems related to marijuana use. Neurofeedback, relapse prevention therapy, denial management, family therapy, motivational enhancement therapy and other approaches have consistently proven effective in the treatment of marijuana addiction.