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Defining Marijuana Abuse

Marijuana is one of the most commonly used drugs in the world. Some polls show more than half of American adults have used marijuana at some point and relatively large percentage use it regularly. States including California, Colorado, and Washington have made marijuana sale and use legal to some degree and that trend may continue. Marijuana is not as dangerous or addictive as many drugs, such as opioids, benzos, cocaine, or meth. It may even have some medical uses in managing pain or other conditions.

Given marijuana’s growing mainstream acceptance in recent years, it’s important to remember that it contains compounds that have a powerful effect on your physiology. It can abused, leading to some degree of tolerance and dependence. There are also some negative effects of long-term frequent use. These can be compounded by the use of extracts that concentrate the active ingredients of marijuana, making each use more potent than smoking the leaves.

With recreational marijuana use being so common, it may be difficult to determine when using has become a problem. Like alcohol, marijuana’s common use can mask addiction. According to the CDC, about one in 10 regular users will become addicted, and for regular users under 18 years old, about one in six will become addicted.

Signs of marijuana addiction include trying to quit but being unable to, skipping activities with family or friends to use, or continuing to use after it has become obvious that marijuana use is interfering with work or family responsibilities.

Prolonged frequent marijuana use can impair concentration, memory, and learning. Physically, it can increase heart rate and blood pressure and increase chances of heart attack and stroke. It can also irritate the lungs causing bronchitis and increased risk of respiratory infection.

The threshold of what is considered abuse is much lower in people under 18 years old because there is more potential for long-term damage. In addition to a higher risk of addiction, young brains are still developing–the adult brain isn’t fully developed until about age 25–and so any damage to the areas controlling concentration and memory is more likely to be permanent. Even temporary impairment of concentration and memory may be compounded in terms of lower grades and missed work opportunities.

For most adults, what constitutes marijuana abuse, like alcohol abuse, will depend on the individual. More frequent use, especially among younger users, will cause more problems with memory and concentration. If you find your memory and focus slipping, try using less or stopping completely. If you can’t stop, or if you find yourself craving marijuana, thinking about it a lot when you aren’t using, and skipping important events to use, then you are probably addicted and you should seek treatment.

START your recovery at the Gardens Wellness Center in North Miami. Our comfortable environment offers the highest luxuries in detox, making sure you are safe and encouraged to make it through withdrawals. Changing the way we approach detox, our program is focused on holistic care in order to create a foundation of recovery. For information, call:  (844) 325-9168