Marijuana / Cannabis Addiction

The word ‘marijuana’ is thought to come from the Mexican Spanish with the meaning, "Maria" (Mary) and "Juana" (Joan or Jane). The drug is made from dried flowers and leaves of the hemp plant, a variety of cannabis known as sativa.

Heavy use of marijuana can result in:

  • Memory loss
  • Learning difficulties
  • Mood and social behaviour

The adverse affects can last for days or weeks after the acute effects of the drug wear off. The increase in use often causes severe problems in both family and work life.

Over time, abuse of marijuana leads to overstimulation of the ‘endocannabinoid system’ - a group of receptors in the brain involved in physiological processes including, appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory.

As a result, changes in the brain lead to long term addiction and the inability to stop using the drug even though the user knows that loss of control is increasingly ruining many aspects of their life.

Symptoms and Warning Signs

Signs of marijuana abuse are frequently visible in users, such as:
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Discoloured fingers
  • Constant, mucus-filled cough
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Hunger (known as the ‘munchies’)
  • Dry mouth
  • Anxiety, paranoia, or fear
  • Poor memory
  • Poor coordination
  • Slow reaction time
  • Loss of control

Addiction to marijuana
can cause several physical and physiological changes, including:
  • Distorted perceptions
  • Impaired coordination
  • Difficulty in thinking and problem solving
  • Ongoing problems with learning and memory

Further serious effects

Anxiety, depression and paranoia

Psychological problems of anxiety, depression and paranoia can gain a hold of a marijuana addict, especially if there is a history of mental health issues in the family. Marijuana can even cause psychotic illnesses, such as schizophrenia.

Fertility

A further problem of marijuana abuse is the affect on fertility by decreasing sperm count and suppressing ovulation.

Cancer

Just like tobacco, marijuana contains harmful chemical compounds, which can lead to lung disease and cancer.

Withdrawal problems

When long-term marijuana abusers try to stop using the drug, they often suffer a number of unpleasant symptoms, which make it difficult to stop and eventually leads many back into marijuana use.

Withdrawal symptoms can include:
  • Irritability
  • Sleeplessness
  • Decreased appetite, which can trigger disordered eating
  • Anxiety
  • Drug craving

Marijuana strength

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical responsible for most of marijuana's psychological effects. THC stimulates cells in the brain to release dopamine, creating euphoria, but also interferes with how information is processed in the part of the brain responsible for forming new memories. 

The strength of marijuana, has steadily increased over the last 25 years. In the early 1990s, the average THC content in cannabis samples was roughly 3.7 percent for marijuana. By 2013, the THC strength had increased to 9.6 percent.

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