Marijuana is a drug that causes many harmful consequences in the health, psychological, and social aspects of a person’s life. Although it does not form physical addiction, and after a break from taking it, one usually feels no physical crisis; it is necessary to treat psychological addiction to marijuana.

Bearing in mind the effects of marijuana on the whole body, we cannot classify it as a soft drug as all drugs are hard. Many heroin addicts who were treated at rehab hospitals started with marijuana. Young people may begin to consume marijuana very early, in their teenage years, amongst friends. Nearly 55% of people over 18 years started using marijuana before the age of 17. They abuse it by smoking or eating foods infused with it, known as ‘edibles’.

It is this kind of attitude, that psychostimulants are no big deal, that leads to experimentation and the development of drug addiction. Addicts are the most difficult to treat at the beginning because they do not believe they have a problem at the time, and in the end when it is quite challenging to eliminate the consequences of addiction.

In this article, we will take a look at issues such as what defines marijuana addiction, how to identify it, the effects it can have on an addict, and how to treat it and get better.

Marijuana is rolled up in smoking paper for eventual abuse by cannabis addicts.

Effects of cannabinoid consumption

There are an array of mental effects that cannabinoids can have when consumed. These include the following:

  • Relaxation (although there may be a feeling of anxiety as a counter-effect)
  • Euphoric mood
  • Excessive laughing
  • Poor concentration
  • Disturbed thinking process and “torrential thoughts”
  • Hallucination and illusions
  • Memory disorders
  • Speech disorders and “garrulity”
  • Reduced ability to foresee and predict events
  • Light-headedness
  • Derealization
  • Depersonalization.

Somatic effects include dilatation of pupils, red scleras, dry mouth and throat, and altered complex motor functions, and at higher doses disturbed coordination of movement. Long-term use of marijuana causes numerous chronic disorders in the body. Some of them are an apathetic mood and a constant state of sleepiness, poor operational memory, abstract thinking disorder, depression and anxiety, panic attacks, emotional lability, and irritability. There is a decrease in intellect and personality change and even suicides.

Headaches, coordination disorders, slow response times, and altered space and color perception are common.

There are also numerous respiratory problems, such as dry and unproductive cough, pharyngitis, change in color of the oral mucosa, and swelling of the palate and frenulum. The nose is continuously stuffy, and if there is asthma, it worsens. Respiratory tract infections are frequent as well. Bronchitis and lung cancer can also develop.

Reproductively, libido decreases and reaching pleasure is difficult. Potency problems, menstrual cycle disorders, pregnancy problems, and infertility can occur.

The social consequences of taking marijuana are isolation or falling in with a bad crowd, loss of ambitions and plans, and a break in the practice of hobbies and activities.

What is marijuana addiction?

Individuals who use marijuana too frequently, are at the risk of developing what is known as cannabis use disorder, which is another way of referring to marijuana addiction. This refers to when an individual continues to use marijuana despite clear signs of impairment to health or daily living.

This is said to be due to addicts using the drug for extended periods and continually increasing the dose which they take. Genetic factors can also play a role in how prone an individual is to develop an addiction to marijuana.

One study found that nearly 30% of marijuana users surveyed seemed to have shown the signs of a cannabis use disorder in that year. Because almost 10% of adults in the United States used cannabis in that same year, it shows how much of a problem marijuana addiction can be.

A cannabis addict rolls marijuana to smoke and abuse.

Signs and symptoms of cannabis addiction

Marijuana addiction is characterized by psychological dependence more than physical. However, there still seems to be some extent of physical dependence shown. Cannabis addiction is clinically indicated by the presence of two or more of any of the following symptoms present in an individual over 12 months:

  1. Using more marijuana than was originally intended.
  2. Having difficulty controlling the amount of cannabis that is used.
  3. Spending a large proportion of available time engaging in marijuana use; neglecting other activities to sustain cannabis use.
  4. Frequently craving marijuana.
  5. Fallout in the workplace, at school, socially, or among the family at home, resulting from the use of marijuana.
  6. Continuing to use cannabis despite the above-mentioned effects on social life or in a relationship.
  7. Continuing to use cannabis despite identified effects on physical and psychological well-being.
  8. Using cannabis in socially unacceptable or high-risk situations, for example, during class or at work.
  9. Requiring higher doses of cannabis to achieve the same effects that were previously achievable with lower doses (tolerance).
  10. Withdrawal symptoms when marijuana use is ceased.

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Effects of cannabis addiction

Similar to how it produces primarily psychological dependence, the short-term and long-term effects of cannabis addiction are mostly targeted towards the brain. This goes against many people’s beliefs that marijuana is a safe drug. This is untrue, and there is significant harm that can arise from the abuse and addiction to this drug.

Tetrahydrocannabinol is one of the major cannabinoids that has been isolated from marijuana. This is the main substance responsible for the action of the drug, particularly the psychoactive component. This passes to the brain through the blood, either when smoked or eaten. The chemical activates receptors in the brain due to its structural similarity to the natural chemicals that act on those receptors. This activation is what produces its effects.

Short-term effects of cannabis addiction

There are numerous ways that cannabis acts in the short-term, which include the following psychological and physical effects:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Impaired memory
  • Impaired cognition
  • Mood swings
  • Altered perception of time
  • Altered sensory perception (for example, sounds and colors may be amplified)
  • Psychosis (especially at high doses)
  • Paranoia
  • Panic
  • Increased heart rate
  • Impaired coordination and muscle movement
  • Nausea and vomiting

Long-term effects of cannabis addiction

The major long-term effects of cannabis addiction are due to its chronic effect on the brain. These effects can be irreversible. These include the following:

  • A reduction in intelligence quotient, at an average of 8 IQ points
  • Impaired ability in the operation of complex tasks
  • Addiction to more illicit substances (acts as a gateway for other drugs)
  • Chronic psychosis
  • Development of schizophrenia
  • Depersonalization
  • Inattention
  • Memory impairment
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal behavior

Treatment of marijuana addiction

Many addicts may reach a point where they realize how their cannabis dependence is affecting their lives and will want to decide to stop. Luckily, this is entirely possible. Treatment can be gotten from a professional addiction treatment center.

Primary goals of treatment

  • Eliminating the psychological consequences resulting from the consumption of marijuana, primarily paranoia, lunatic ideas, amotivational syndrome, depression, thinking disorders, memory, and attention disorders.
  • Eliminating the desire for marijuana.
  • Creating a new lifestyle, changing life habits, changing circle of friends, avoiding alcohol and other psychoactive substances, practicing sports and other healthy activities, finding a job, and establishing a normal biorhythm.
A marijuana addict smokes cannabis to satisfy their cravings.

Phases of marijuana addiction treatment

Treatment of cannabinoid addiction involves pharmacotherapy, Neuro-Jet therapy, information therapy, and psychotherapy, and the first and the basic phase, which is diagnostics.

Diagnostics – During this stage, the physical and psychological state of a patient is assessed.  It includes general blood analysis, biochemical blood testing, urine tests, tests for hepatitis B and C, HIV infection, ECG, and an internist examination. It also includes psychodiagnostic tests (psychological tests used to determine the level of addiction, the consequences of the use of substances on mental health, to detect the signs of psychological disorders, the presence of depression, the degree of motivation for healing) to assess the psychological condition of a patient. Additional medical tests are carried out if required.

Pharmacotherapy – It is necessary to make a good combination of preparations that will help the patient regain control over their body, thoughts, and feelings. Pharmacotherapy helps restore health and improve well-being, eliminate fears, doubts, insecurities, and unrealistic ideas. Only when a patient can again accept, analyze, and evaluate events and situations can he move to the following stage of treatment for marijuana addiction. Parents often resort to threats or persuasions to force their child to stop taking the substance. However, such conversations have no effect because marijuana leads to disorders in perception, memory, and thinking.

N.Е.Т. (Neuro Jet therapy) This allows the endorphin and neurotransmitter system to stabilize. This method is very applicable and promising and is used in countries like Switzerland, Great Britain, and Russia. This therapy enables the stimulation of brain structures by which natural hormones of happiness are secreted. These processes are disturbed when a person regularly consumes drugs, and this is related to experiencing sorrow, apathy, and depression. Neuro Jet therapy re-establishes the neurotransmitter balance, and this leads to mood normalization, elimination of nervousness, and decreased desire for drugs.

Treatment of psychological addiction – Using aversive procedures, pharmaco-hypnosis, psychotherapy, and Ibogaine according to a doctor’s prescription.

Psychotherapy – Individual, family, and group psychotherapy, body-oriented psychotherapy, meditation, autogenic training, training of communicative skills development, relaxation, art therapy, transactional analysis, family therapy, individual and group education may be used. The essence of psychotherapy is to re-establish good communication and relationships with important people, family, and friends, but above all with themselves. A plan of activity is made for each following month, and the patient slowly learns how to act in provocative situations and how to prevent relapse. Leisure time should be dedicated to sports, recreation, walks, and other pleasant and healthy activities.

Physiotherapy includes physical, medical, or deep tissue massage, and these massages relax and soothe the body. When a person is in the withdrawal phase, the level of dopamine is lowered, and massage stimulates the normal production of dopamine as it accelerates blood and lymph circulation, and thus improves the process of eliminating toxins from the body.

The outpatient treatment phase takes place after leaving the hospital, and a patient is regularly followed-up every month during the following year.  At discharge, a patient receives detailed advice and instructions on how to maintain and improve the achieved condition. However, it is necessary to maintain contact with the hospital to obtain the necessary advice and assistance in case any problems arise. For patients from abroad, there is an option to contact their doctor via telephone, Skype, and e-mail. Support in treatment provided by close people and family members also greatly increases the chances of successful healing. 

Marijuana is seen by many as a fun recreational drug that can cause no harm. Many people believe that it is entirely beneficial to health, even in cases of abuse. This is not true, and cannabis addiction can have serious effects on an addict’s life. It is never too late to take the right steps towards leaving the addiction behind and begin rehab for weed addiction.

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Frequently asked questions about marijuana addiction

What is the legal status of marijuana in different countries?

Under federal law, cannabis is illegal in the United States, but numerous states have conflicting policies. 15 states have legalized recreational use, with an additional 16 states have decriminalized it. 

Worldwide, a few countries have legalized recreational marijuana use while several others have decriminalized it. Marijuana is legal in Canada, Georgia, South Africa, Uruguay, The Australian Capital Territory in Australia. Nations that have decriminalized recreational marijuana use include Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Colombia, Italy, Jamaica, Mexico, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland. 

The politics of many states regarding marijuana provokes a frivolous attitude to what is associated with the problem of addiction to this substance.

What is the difference between ingesting and smoking cannabis

Smoked marijuana acts faster than marijuana which is ingested in ‘edibles’, but also comes with specific side effects related to the constant inhalation of smoke. Smoked marijuana can lead to long-term respiratory problems.

How would I get to the clinic and are the facilities provided?

In case of a need, we offer transport for patients from the airport or the station to the hospital and back. We help foreign patients receive a visa if they need it, and if they come with an accompanying person, they also can stay at the hospital.

The professional staff is available to patients 24 hours a day and seven days a week. The clinic’s doctors are certified anesthesiologists, psychiatrists, and psychologists with 10 to 25 years of experience. Patients’ safety and security are our priorities, so the facility is under video surveillance, and we have a security guard on-site.