What is Marijuana?
Marijuana is a greenish-gray mixture of the dried flowers of Cannabis sativa. The main psychoactive (mind-altering) chemical in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC causes most of the intoxicating effects that people use marijuana for. It is found in the resin produced by the leaves and buds of mainly the female cannabis plant.
The plant also contains more than 500 other chemicals. This includes more than 100 compounds that are related to THC called cannabinoids. There are stronger forms of marijuana including:
- Sinsemilla (from specially raised female plants)
- Concentrated resins (contain high doses of the active ingredients) such as:
– Hash oil
– Waxy budder
Marijuana is sometimes also called:
- Mary Jane
How is it Used?
Marijuana is consumed in a number of ways. They are:
- Smoking–Some people smoke it in hand-rolled cigarettes called “joints” or in pipes. It is also used in water pipes called “bongs.”
- Edibles–Marijuana can be used to brew tea and is frequently mixed into foods (especially when it is used for medical purposes).
- Vaping and Dabbing–Smokeless devices are increasingly being used to vape liquids or cartridges that contain THC. When dabbing, a marijuana concentrate is placed on a glass pipe, heated, and the vapors are inhaled. These methods provide a higher concentration of THC.
Tinctures, Capsules, and Sprays–Tinctures are liquids extracted from the cannabis plant and the drops are placed under the tongue or sprayed for fast absorption. Medication capsules can be filled with marijuana oil or an extract.Make an appointment
How Many People Use Cannabis in the U.S.?Get Help Now
According to the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, among people aged 12 or older, 17.9% reported using cannabis in the past year. In 2021, the statistics were further broken down by the 2021 Monitoring the Future Survey and revealed estimates that:
- 7.1% of 8th graders,
- 17.3% of 10th graders, and
- 30.5% of 12th graders reported using cannabis/hashish in the past 12 months.
That same 2020 survey found that among people aged 12 or older, an estimated 5.1% (about 12.2 million people) had a cannabis use disorder in the past 12 months.
What are the Effects of Marijuana Use?
When you smoke marijuana, the THC and other chemicals in the plant pass from the lungs into the bloodstream. In the bloodstream, they are carried rapidly throughout the body to the brain. Almost immediately, you begin to experience effects. People usually experience a pleasant euphoria and a feeling of relaxation. However, marijuana use can affect people differently.
- Heightened sensory perception such as brighter colors
- Altered perception of time
- Increased appetite
- Poor judgment
- Panic attacks
- Seeing things that aren’t there
When marijuana is consumed in beverages and foods, the effects are delayed somewhat. They usually appear after 30 minutes to 1 hour. This is because the drug has to pass through the digestive system first. In addition, eating or drinking marijuana delivers substantially less THC into the bloodstream than smoking a comparable amount of the plant. Due to these delayed effects, many people unintentionally consume more than they meant to.
Not All Fun and Games
Not everyone who tries marijuana has a pleasant experience. Instead of euphoria and relaxation, some people experience:
These experiences are more common when:
- A person consumes too much
- The potency is unexpectedly high
- The person is inexperienced
Some people who have taken large doses of marijuana may experience an acute psychosis which includes:
- Loss of personal identity
These reactions are temporary and very different from longer-lasting psychotic disorders.
- May increase the risk of chronic cough, bronchitis, and worsening symptoms of asthma
- Impairs learning, attention, and memory which may affect academic performance
- Can increase the risk of schizophrenia or other psychoses. This highest risk is for frequent and long-time users.
How Does Marijuana Work in Your Brain?
The chemical structure of THC is similar to the brain chemical, anandamide. This similarity allows the body to recognize THC and to change normal brain communication. Natural cannabinoids such as anandamide function as neurotransmitters that send chemical messages between nerve cells (neurons) throughout the nervous system. This affects brain areas that influence:
- Sensory and time perception
Due to the similarity to anandamide, THC is able to attach itself to molecules called cannabinoid receptors in these brain areas, activating them and causing the effects listed above. The communication network in your brain that uses the cannabinoid neurotransmitters plays an important part in the nervous system’s normal functioning. Therefore, interfering with it can have serious effects.
THC is also able to alter the functioning of brain areas making it possible to:
- learn and perform complicated tasks,
- form new memories,
- regulate balance and coordination, and
- reaction time.
Acting through the cannabinoid receptors, THC also activates the brain’s reward system. That includes areas that control the response to healthy pleasurable behaviors like sex and eating. Similar to other drugs that are frequently misused, THC stimulates neurons in the reward system. This causes the chemical dopamine to be released at higher levels than typically seen in response to natural rewarding stimulants. The surge of dopamine “teaches” the brain to repeat the rewarding behavior, which helps explain marijuana’s addictive properties.
Is It Really Addictive?Get Help Now
The use of marijuana can lead to the development of problem use, also known as a marijuana use disorder. This can take the form of addiction in severe cases. Recent studies suggest that 30% of those who use marijuana may have some level of marijuana use disorder. And people who begin using marijuana before the age of 18 are 4 to 7 times more likely to develop a marijuana addiction as adults.
Symptoms of Marijuana Addiction
- Physical tolerance. Tolerance means that the person feels the need to use larger quantities or concentration to achieve the same high.
- Withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit using or cutting down.
- Cravings for the drug.
- Problems with responsibilities and functioning day-to-day.
- Giving up activities that used to be enjoyed.
Dependence and Withdrawal
Marijuana use disorders are usually associated with dependence. Dependence means that the person feels withdrawal symptoms when they aren’t using the drug. Individuals that use marijuana frequently often describe:
- Mood issues
- Sleep problems
- Decreased appetite
- Physical discomfort when quitting
These symptoms typically peak within the first week and may last up to 2 weeks.
Marijuana use disorder turns into addiction when the person can’t stop using the drug even though it interferes and hampers many parts of their life. Studies suggest that 9% of people who use marijuana will become dependent. This increases to about 17% for those people who start using it in their teens.
5 Signs You May Have an Addiction to Marijuana
- You lose interest in social and recreational activities
- Your relationships with family and friends are declining
- You have withdrawal symptoms when not using
- Your tolerance increases
- You can’t stop even though you are experiencing adverse effects
What Are Synthetic Cannabinoids?
Synthetic marijuana is also known as “spice” or “K2.” It’s a man-made substance similar to THC. These drugs are more powerful and can have unpredictable and severe effects Including:
- Extreme anxiety
- Vivid hallucinations
- Rapid heart rate
- Violent behavior
- Suicidal thoughts
These synthetics are popular with teenagers because they are easy to get in stores and online and are often undetectable on drug tests. This creates more risk and cause for concern.
Legal Doesn’t Mean Safe
A lot of people, particularly young people, believe that since marijuana is legalized in some states, it means that it’s safe to use no matter what your age. However, research has shown that when teens and young adults believe there’s no risk, rates of use increase. Rates of first use are 12- to 63% higher in states where it’s legalized.
And, of course, just like the alcohol and tobacco industries, the marijuana industry is anxious to promote the use of marijuana. Young users can become long-term, heavy, and loyal users. It’s no surprise that edibles that look like candy and other snacks are popular with young people.
Treatment for Marijuana Addiction
Marijuana use disorder appears to be similar to other substance use disorders (SUDs) but the long-term clinical outcomes seem to be less severe. Adults seeking treatment for marijuana use disorder have, on average, used marijuana nearly every day for more than 10 years and have tried to quit more than six times.
Often, individuals with marijuana use disorders also suffer from co-occurring mental health disorders. This is called a dual diagnosis and it is especially true for adolescents. They might also use or be addicted to other substances such as alcohol or cocaine.
Studies have revealed that effectively treating the mental health disorder with standard treatments, including medications and behavioral therapies may help reduce the use of marijuana. For individuals involved with heavy use and those with more chronic mental disorders, this is particularly true.
Effective Behavioral Therapies
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a type of psychotherapy that teaches people the skills necessary to recognize and correct problematic thinking patterns and behaviors to improve their self-control, stop using drugs, and identify a range of other problems that co-occur.
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
DBT is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that focuses on improving relationships and regulating emotions. It helps individuals accept themselves while still embracing behavior change.
Individual counseling provides the individual the opportunity to work one-to-one with a counselor in a confidential setting. This creates a trusting relationship and gives the person the setting to explore any reasons behind their drug use. Because marijuana addiction often co-occurs with an underlying mental issue, individual therapy sessions are a good place to delve into that possibility.
Group counseling sessions offer the chance to discuss issues with a group of people who are experiencing the same problems. It provides different ways to approach problems and diverse ideas for handling them. Group sessions are a good source of support in marijuana rehab.
Depending on the severity and duration of the person’s addiction, there are usually several treatment program options including:
- Residential–Individuals live in the treatment facility for the duration of their treatment.
- Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)–Individuals 5 to 7 spend full days (approx. 8 hours) at the treatment facility and return home in the evenings. This is as intense as residential without the 24-hour supervision.
- Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)–People in this program go to sessions at the facility approximately 3 days per week for about 5 hours per day.
- Outpatient Program (OP)–Similar to IOP but with less time commitment.
Supportive Housing–Supportive housing makes it possible for people who don’t have a stable home situation to live in drug-free surroundings while attending outpatient sessions and transitioning into a more normal living environment.
Marijuana Addiction Treatment at The Owl’s Nest Recovery
Do you need help for someone you care about, or for yourself? The Owl’s Nest in South Caroline can provide a wide range of treatment options to address your needs for a successful, lifelong recovery. We are able to provide you with a team of experienced professionals whose only job is to help you succeed. Many members of our staff have also been through recovery treatment, so they are able to understand the struggles, the highs, and the lows.
Contact us today. We are happy to answer your questions about programs, insurance, and admissions. Let’s talk about what we can do for you or your loved one.