The topic of marijuana use and legalization can be a hot-button issue for some who say it is harmful and should not be encouraged as well as for others who believe legalization is an inevitable occurrence based on trends moving to relax restrictions, especially for medical use.
Even though marijuana is legal for personal and/or medical use in certain states, the use of it can still lead to addiction and adverse health effects, including cognitive impairments.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 1 in 10 people who use marijuana will become addicted, with that percentage increasing to 1 in 6 users if they begin to use it by age 18.
According to the CDC, nearly 37.6 million people have used marijuana in the past year, making it the most commonly used drug aside from alcohol. Addiction becomes a concern when the use of the substance or activity causes harmful effects to the user or those around them.
Is Marijuana Addictive?
It is possible, however, marijuana presents much more commonly as a substance use disorder. That means while it isn’t a physical addiction, the use of the substance causes negative effects on a person’s daily life, personal relationships, finances, and can even lead to legal issues.
Frequency Of Use
If a person is increasing their quantity of use or using throughout the day it could be indicative of dependence or addiction.
Problems with memory, learning, and difficulty concentrating have been reported. Impaired driving and loss of interest in physical activities that were once enjoyed as a hobby or excelled in during the high school or college years can also occur.
According to the American Lung Association, marijuana directly impacts the lungs and can lead to chronic bronchitis as well as causing immune-compromised people to develop lung infections. Cancer is an additional concern for health professionals.
The ability to learn and retain information is reduced; this can result in making errors and feeling a lack of motivation to meet responsibilities. This can affect advancement opportunities and job security. Additionally, getting a job could be difficult due to having marijuana in your system.
Relationships can feel strained because of difficulties caused by the use of marijuana, including financial stress and reduced participation in scheduled activities. It is possible to lose custody or visitation rights of your dependent children if your presence, influence, or unreliability is deemed harmful.
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Legal complications can be minor or major, but regardless they should be a big concern. They can have long-term and far-reaching effects, such as posing a serious threat to your job security, negatively affecting future job prospects, depleting your finances with hefty legal fees and fines, and even resulting in a license being suspended if a person operates a vehicle while under the influence. This can be a devastating loss in livelihood for many, especially for people with a commercial driver’s license who must have one to perform their job.
If someone is reaching for a substance to handle an emotional situation, this is called self-medicating. Whether by ignoring the situation, drinking, screaming, or disappearing in order to get high, the fact remains that the problem at hand remains unaddressed. In the meantime, avoidance can cause harm to the person with the problem as well as others.
Difficulty Stopping Use
If discontinuing use is difficult to achieve, this is another red flag that marijuana is impacting someone’s daily life. Any substance that causes problems such as these should be examined for the benefit obtained compared to the loss due to using.
Isn’t Marijuana Legal In Texas?
Just like alcohol and tobacco sales are regulated by states regarding the age a person must be to purchase, marijuana is also subject to state laws regarding use, manufacture, distribution, and sale, as well as the operation of vehicles and equipment due to the possibility of impaired judgment.
Marijuana administered in medicinal cannabis form such as oil or inhaler to treat those with intractable epilepsy was legalized nearly six years ago in a Texas law written by North Texas Republican representative and registered nurse Stephanie Klick.
This is when Texas became one of 33 states, along with five U.S. territories and Washington, D.C., to legalize some type of medicinal use. Texas expanded use in 2020 to include patients with terminal cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, autism, and other seizure disorders, allowing them to be treated with THC, the main psychoactive compound found in marijuana.
Eleven states have legalized marijuana for recreational use as of 2020 and that number is expected to grow.
What Exactly Is Marijuana?
Many people use it, talk about it, are opposed to it, are not opposed to it, used it once a long time ago, or have never seen it or used it.
Perhaps you know all about it and have felt some of the impacts described earlier. Or maybe you are worried about your roommate who seemed poised for a promotion and has stopped going to work.
Plant Provides Multiple Ways For Medical/Recreational Use
Marijuana is generally a green (sometimes with shades of brown, orange, and purple mixed in) dry flower mix from the female cannabis plant. It has traditionally been smoked in a rolled cigarette called a joint, a cigar wrap called a blunt, or in a pipe. Other methods have included water pipes or bongs.
When used medicinally, the leaves are used to brew tea or mixed into foods (edibles) such as brownies, cookies, or candies.
More recently, vape pens have entered the field for marijuana consumption and as stronger forms of THC are available, vaporizers are also increasingly used to consume marijuana. Stronger forms of marijuana include sinsemilla (from specially tended female plants) and concentrated resins containing high doses of marijuana’s active ingredients, including honeylike hash oil, waxy budder, and hard amberlike shatter. These resins are increasingly popular among those who use them both recreationally and medically.
What Is Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)?
THC is a psychoactive compound, one of many compounds found in the cannabis plant. THC is used in marijuana and can give one the euphoric feeling described as a “high.” It binds with receptors that release neurotransmitters in the brain, affecting things like mood, sleep, memory, and pain.
It has proven medically helpful to control nausea and vomiting for patients undergoing cancer treatments and to improve appetite loss due to other conditions such as HIV.
Possible side effects include the inability to concentrate and memory loss on the cognitive side as well as dizziness, vomiting, balance, and sleepiness on the physical side.
There has been a higher THC content in marijuana in recent years and the methods of using it deliver higher levels of THC to the user, in turn having stronger effects on the brain. According to the CDC, researchers do not have a full understanding of the consequences for the body and brain or if there is an increased risk for addiction.
Public perception of marijuana has changed drastically, with most studies showing that 75% of people think it is safer than nicotine and more socially accepted across many age groups.
A new typical image of a marijuana user is quickly replacing the old stereotype of a burned-out individual who flunks out of school and just likes to party all the
time—a la Jeff Spicoli in the ’80s cult movie classic Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
Now, people are just as likely to imagine dinner parties with cannabis-infused entrées, or patients with cancer medication pumped through IV bags using marijuana before or after to control nausea and pain in their disease-ravaged bodies.
But just like any substance, it can be misused. Regarding legality, alcohol is legal but marijuana has a complicated legal status. Alcohol has sexy commercials showing people having a good time and marijuana dinner parties project the same experience.
Yet alcohol is also the third-most-common cause of preventable death, behind tobacco and poor diet/exercise. As mentioned earlier, the full extent to which marijuana may impact the body as THC levels rise and synthetic variations hit the market are unknown.
Treatment For Marijuana Use
If a person continues to use the substance when faced with these negative aspects, holistic treatment can prove helpful to redirect their choices toward more healthful ones.
People who have used marijuana for years and have tried to quit on their own more than six times are most likely to need treatment assistance.
Withdrawal Symptoms Do Exist
Nearly 50% of marijuana users report symptoms of withdrawal, according to a 2020 Harvard health blog. While these are not life-threatening, they do exist. This is because the neurotransmitters that marijuana work on are confused once the substance is removed. Until this withdrawal stage is completed, the person may be consumed with thoughts of use until they reach the baseline level in their natural state.
Common withdrawal symptoms:
- Sleep issues
- Mood swings
- Loss of appetite
A common sign something may be addictive is the irritability that comes when the substance is no longer used.
Vertava Health of Texas invites you to spend time at our 40-acre campus to focus on yourself, your reliance on marijuana, and to imagine new ways to handle life events more constructively.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT can be phenomenally successful for many who are faced with the staggering effects of these emotions combined with drug addiction. While you work with your therapist, you will set goals and learn how to change your thinking so that you can begin to implement constructive thought patterns and behaviors in place of those that have caused damage and brought you down.
Paired with the other forms of treatment that we offer, it will foster and deliver a well-rounded treatment plan that will help you to find renewal and a greater sense of clarity and confidence as you progress further into your recovery.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
DBT was created to treat what may often be a dual diagnosis itself—borderline personality disorder. Since its inception, DBT has been shown to not only be an effective treatment modality for this mental disorder but numerous others. It is now considered a practical, productive method for treating substance use disorders.
DBT leads a person to develop and use mindfulness, acceptance, and change as a means to break ties with dysfunctional behaviors. Therapy accomplishes this, and also creates more positive behaviors, by leading a person toward learning distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and emotional control.
Together, these things increase a person’s confidence and their ability in addressing and solving problems in their life which otherwise may create triggers or temptation to use substances.
Mindfulness And Stress Management
Substance use and mental health disorders are both often aggravated by a person being out of touch with themselves and their innate needs while succumbing to life’s many stressors. Thorough treatment engages someone in a way that cultivates a better self-awareness while addressing the multiple ways stress may crop up within a person’s life.
In integrating these two, someone is better adept at implementing coping skills to overcome moments that might otherwise prove to be a trigger linked to relapse and a return to substance use.
Combined, the therapies described above along with other treatment modalities, can create a landscape of healing, hope, acceptance, and change, enabling you to find a better drug-free life.
We have a carefully designed treatment program filled with therapies teaching solution-based approaches, mindful meditation to maintain positive spirituality, and energizing outside activities to build confidence, teamwork, and improved social skills.
True sobriety is a multifaceted endeavor. Foremost, you must stop using, but you must also learn crucial skills, mindsets, and behaviors that can help you to stay proactive within your recovery so that you can maintain a substance-free life.
A good treatment program follows a carefully designed set of steps that gradually lead toward your successful return to your daily living environment. You’ll come to us in need and will leave walking tall with greater confidence, drive, and focus. These are the elements that are key to preserving your recovery upon leaving.
Contact Vertava Health of Texas to learn more about our holistic rehabilitation approach with individualized counseling and a program that is tailor-made to fit your needs. Recovery is tough, but so are you. Reach out to Vertava Health of Texas at 877-318-2084.
Where Did Marijuana Originate?
Hemp production, the cannabis plant that provides marijuana, was encouraged for farmers in the 1600s as a source of material to create sails, rope, and clothing and remained popular right up through the Civil War years in the 1860s. It was then replaced with more domestic materials and imports and used more for medicinal purposes.
When Did Marijuana Become Illegal?
Marijuana was banned for use or sale in 29 states by 1931. This was mostly due to fear during the Great Depression that the Mexican immigration influx in the first half of the century following the Mexican Revolution would absorb available jobs for Americans.
The Federal Bureau of Narcotics tried to keep marijuana legislation at the state level but Congress eventually passed the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. This act restricted marijuana to certain medical and industrial uses and instituted an excise tax.
Federal laws in the 1950s were established for drug use and a first-offense marijuana possession carried a minimum sentence of 2-10 years with a fine of up to $20,000.
How To Overcome Marijuana Addiction?
For those who want to overcome their reliance on marijuana, a treatment program that teaches mindfulness therapies and strategies to move beyond their substance use is beneficial.
CBT examines negative thinking and purposefully redirects actions to a more healthful outcome. Reward-based therapies where acknowledging improvement can reinforce helpful behaviors are also helpful.
A holistic approach that recognizes the importance of therapy, meditation, healthy living strategies, and surrounding yourself with support for continued recovery is most beneficial for people struggling with substance use disorder.
- CDC — Marijuana and Public Health
- NIH — Marijuana Research Report Is marijuana addictive?
- American Lung Association — Marijuana and Lung Health
- NCDAS — Marijuana Addiction: Rates & Usage Statistics
- Health Harvard — If cannabis becomes a problem: How to manage withdrawal
- PBS — Domestic production of hemp encouraged