Marijuana is the most popular and readily available illegal drug in the Western world. Perhaps the only illegal drug with more street names than heroin, marijuana is also widely misunderstood and misrepresented as being harmless and acceptable. Also called pot, weed, ganja and skunk, marijuana’s official designation is cannabis derived from the female hemp plant Cannabis Sativa. Getting stoned or high on marijuana makes most users relaxed and talkative while heightening the sense in relation to colors, taste and music. The most frequently used of all the illicit drugs, it’s a mix of flowers, stems, seeds, and leafs. When smoked usually in cigarettes called joints or in a pipe or “bong’ it has a strong bitter sweet and pungent odor. It can also be mixed with food such as brownies or cookies as well as brewed in tea.
The psychoactive ingredient in marijuana is THC or “Tetrahydracannabinol”. When smoked or ingested the membranes of nerve cells located in the brain attach to the THC which causes a series of cellular reactions that result in a euphoria or high. There are a variety of immediate affects of Marijuana on the body these include increased heartbeat and pulse rate. Heart rate and pulse can rise as much as 50 percent depending on the amount of THC present in the drug. In persons with poor blood supply to the heart it can cause chest pains. Scientists have also noted that frequent use can be particularly harmful to the lungs. Users inhale deeply holding the smoke against the lung tissues irritating and damaging lung tissue lining.
In the popular culture, marijuana use has been glorified through a multitude of films like the Cheech & Chong movies and in magazines like High Times. The legalization movement, although legitimate in the form of medical marijuana use for cancer patients and glaucoma sufferers, has perpetuated the dangerous belief that marijuana is a harmless alternative to legal alcohol. In truth, due to modern growing techniques and cultivation methods, the marijuana available today is extraordinarily more powerful than the marijuana smoked by the hippy counterculture of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Modern strains of marijuana have an incredibly high THC content, the active ingredient in cannabis, engenders a high and a level of dependence rarely ever experienced in the past. Getting stoned affects coordination, increasing the risk of casual accidents, impairs driving skills and sometimes makes the user feel paranoid and anxious. There is no medical question that smoking marijuana over an extended period of time increases the risk of respiratory disorders, including lung cancer, and alters the brain chemistry leading to memory impairment and cognitive dysfunction. The mental and emotional damage of long-term Marijuana use includes impairment of short-term memory, reduced ability to focus, decreased motivation and impaired ability to concentrate. A common adverse reaction of marijuana use is “Acute Panic Anxiety Reaction”. This has been described by users experiencing it as an extreme fear of losing control, often accompanied by feelings of panic. The symptoms usually subside after the drugs effects have worn off.
Long term Marijuana use often causes a sort of detachment referred to by long term pot smokers as “Burnouts.” “Burnouts” are slow in their actions, dull in their expression, inattentive, unaware of their surroundings and unaware that they have a problem. The most obvious signs of Marijuana abuse are; an inability to concentrate, forgetfulness, red bloodshot and inflamed eyes, a distorted sense of time, an odor similar to burnt rope on clothing and breath, and an increased appetite especially for sweets; i. e. “the munchies”. Possession of marijuana smoking paraphernalia, such as pipes, bongs, roach clips, rolling papers are a good indication of marijuana use.
Though it has been widely debated by marijuana legalization groups, numerous scientific studies have confirmed that daily marijuana use does lead to psychological dependence. Although often embraced casually by users, long-term addicts find marijuana very hard to quit and relapse often. Users become psychologically dependent on the easy escape from reality it offers. It is perhaps the easiest illegal drug to minimize in terms of the risks of using and therefore, addicts often remain in denial for extended periods of time. Marijuana is no longer a “mild” drug, but has rather become a true danger to an individual’s personal development and health. At ONE80CENTER, we recognize the serious nature of marijuana addiction, and we know how to treat the disease.