There are many misconceptions surrounding marijuana use, from how addictive the substance is to the extent of how it affects health. With many different attitudes surrounding marijuana, it is difficult to know when one’s use develops into an addiction requiring professional help. Despite any misconceptions, there is no completely safe use of marijuana. Knowing the signs of marijuana abuse and its harmful effects is essential to open an effective dialogue about marijuana use and potential treatment with a friend or loved one.
The Prevalence of Marijuana Use
Despite marijuana’s destructive and addictive properties, or its still illegal status in most parts of the United States, marijuana use is remarkably common. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2019 alone, around 48 million people — about 18% of the population — admitted to using marijuana at least once throughout the year. This makes it the most common federally illegal drug used across the United States.
Marijuana is also incredibly common among people under the age of 18. As a result, its destructive effects are even more dangerous as they impact the formative years and create lasting consequences later in life. About one-third of those who have used marijuana developed a marijuana use disorder at some point in their lives. For those under the age of 18, the risk of developing this disorder can be even higher. About one in six of those who begin using marijuana regularly under the age of 18 develop an addiction.
The reasons for marijuana use are widespread. For some, it can result from peer pressure to engage with the drug. Others may feel like it provides some respite from feelings of anxiety, depression, trauma, or even boredom. However, regardless of the reason behind the use of marijuana, it is important to address its detrimental effects to understand the need for detox and professional treatment.
The Misconceptions of Marijuana Use
While discourse surrounding the push for marijuana’s legality has been increasingly common, such conversations do not mean that marijuana is without its risks. Marijuana is still a federally illegal drug, carrying many negative consequences. Not only is marijuana addiction dangerous to physical and mental health, but its use also has a number of social consequences.
Marijuana has a reputation for being a “safer” drug, which may create the idea that its use cannot have drastic ramifications. While no deaths have been recorded directly as a result of marijuana overdose, overdose itself is still possible. Overdose can cause intense nausea, vomiting, and other physiological distress.
However, overdose is not the only way drugs can be dangerous. Those using marijuana can find their motor skills, decision-making, and more all impeded by its use. DUIs, an increase in risk-taking behavior, and much more can all be life-threatening.
Lastly, the idea that marijuana is a solution to intense feelings of anxiety, depression, or other mental health disorders is more nuanced than at first glance. While it is possible to have prescription marijuana to cope with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other specific situations, that does not make it suitable for all people or forms of mental health disorders. Marijuana use and addiction can actually exacerbate these feelings of depression, anxiety, and more.
When Is It Time to Talk About Marijuana?
The effects of marijuana can impact one’s life in many ways. Marijuana can compromise motivation in school or the workplace and create difficulties with managing a personal budget. It can also lead to spending more time using the drug instead of engaging with previous hobbies, friends, family, or other interests are all common. Noticing the impacts of marijuana on personal life can be a sign to open a discussion about marijuana and addiction.
Other signs that marijuana is becoming an increasing concern in a loved one’s life may include:
- Changes in diet, exercise, or self-care routines
- Excessive use of deodorant, cologne, perfume, or other scent-masking agents
- Changes in one’s social group
- Finding marijuana-related paraphernalia, such as bongs, decor depicting a romanticized depiction of its use, rolling paper, or other tools
- Inconsistent professional or scholastic attendance or decrease in the workplace or academic performance
Opening a dialogue about a loved one’s use of marijuana is a difficult task. It is important to listen to what a loved one says rather than trying to impose consequences without first having a discussion. Taking a supportive stance and ensuring that any dialogue involving marijuana is open for discussion rather than accusatory confrontations is crucial. However, recognizing the signs of marijuana use and how one’s life is impacted is the first step in helping a loved one find the needed treatment to address marijuana addiction.
Marijuana addiction is still a prevalent and dangerous addiction, and we at Pacific Sands Recovery Center are ready to help you or a loved one identify and address the effects of marijuana use in your life. Despite its newfound legality in California, marijuana is still a dangerous drug, and our professional staff is committed to helping you identify and overcome marijuana addiction. From your first step into detox, we are committed to helping you establish your own best practices in recovery, personalizing your most effective recovery strategies, all while backed by a supportive community of peers and professionals alike. There is no safe use of this drug, but there is always the potential for change. For more information on how we can help create a treatment program that is right for you or to speak to a caring, trained staff member about your unique concerns, call (949) 426-7962.