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What Are the Effects of Marijuana Abuse?

The effects of marijuana abuse can lead to negative consequences for users. While marijuana (commonly called “cannabis”) is now legal for both medicinal and recreational use in California, that doesn’t mean that users are free from any risk. Like alcohol and tobacco, even legal marijuana use can lead to addiction, mental health symptoms, social problems, and other concerns.

Harmony Place knows that despite the legality of marijuana, some people still struggle with misuse and addiction. We’re here to help clients struggling with addiction to marijuana at our rehab centers in Los Angeles, California.

Marijuana Statistics

Marijuana is the most commonly used drug that is still illegal at the federal level in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2019, about 18% of Americans used marijuana at least once. In addition, “Recent research estimated that approximately 3 in 10 people who use marijuana have marijuana use disorder.”

Thus, despite the nearly 30% risk of developing a substance use disorder, many people continue to use marijuana. 

Why People Abuse Marijuana

People abuse marijuana for several reasons. Some people begin using it to fit in with their peers at an early age. Others use marijuana—or other drugs—due to boredom, coping with stress, or curiosity. However, chronic marijuana abuse is typically associated with an underlying mental health disorder.

Since marijuana causes feelings of relaxation, many people with anxiety use the drug to self-medicate their symptoms. But, this might only mask their symptoms, and they become dependent on marijuana as a result. 

Furthermore, people with mental health disorders, like depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia, are usually more likely to abuse marijuana than the general population.

Effects of Marijuana Abuse

While some people use marijuana for medicinal purposes or infrequently as a recreational drug, others abuse the drug chronically. They might use marijuana nearly every day, in heavy doses, or even throughout the entire day. 

Long-term, chronic marijuana abuse can lead to negative effects, such as the following:

  • Difficulty focusing or concentrating
  • Problems with emotional regulation
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Memory loss
  • Poor problem-solving skills

These effects of marijuana abuse can spiral, leading to other issues. For instance, problems with concentration could lead to poor performance at work. This could lead to write-ups, loss of promotions, or even getting fired. And, then, these problems worsen other issues, like financial stability and providing for loved ones.

Marijuana and Schizophrenia: Myth or Real?

Marijuana use has long been associated with developing psychotic disorders–particularly schizophrenia. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) indicates that research has shown the following:

  • Marijuana use “is associated with an increased risk for an earlier onset of psychotic disorders (such as schizophrenia) in people with other risk factors”.
  • At high doses, some people have a temporary psychotic episode (including symptoms like hallucinations, delusions, and extreme paranoia).
  • A temporary psychotic episode could be linked to a higher risk of developing a psychotic disorder later in life.
  • People at risk of developing mental illnesses are also at a higher risk of using marijuana.

However, more research is needed to come to definitive conclusions about the effects of marijuana abuse and schizophrenia. 

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), “scientists sometimes are reluctant to pursue cannabis [marijuana] research because of onerous federal requirements associated with Schedule I substances.” Though marijuana is legal in some states, it is still classified as a Schedule I drug on the federal level. 

As a result, much research is lacking to definitively conclude whether there is a direct link between marijuana and schizophrenia.

Is Marijuana Addictive?

In short, yes, marijuana is addictive. However, like other drugs, not everyone who uses marijuana becomes addicted. Often, several risk factors contribute to how likely a person is to develop an addiction to marijuana.

Risk factors of addiction include the following:

  • Underlying mental health disorder
  • Starting use at an earlier age, like adolescence
  • Family member with an addiction
  • Having close friends who use marijuana
  • Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) or other traumas
  • Using more than one substance at the same time (polysubstance abuse)

Still, a person can become addicted to marijuana even when these risk factors are not present. Drugs like marijuana can have powerful, euphoric effects on a person’s mind. As a result, addiction can happen to anyone.

Marijuana Withdrawal

Withdrawal symptoms occur when a person addicted to a substance quit taking the drug. This is because their body and mind developed a dependence on the drug being in their system. Marijuana, like other drugs, can also cause withdrawal symptoms.

Marijuana withdrawal symptoms include the following:

  • Mood swings
  • Lowered pulse rate 
  • Anxiety
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irritability
  • Aggressive behaviors
  • Intense cravings

Oftentimes, when people try to quit “cold turkey” without professional help, they are at a higher risk of relapsing once withdrawal gets too overwhelming. While these symptoms are unpleasant, with the right help and support, anyone can get through them. And, after that, they can begin to work on making a full recovery from the negative effects of marijuana abuse.

Quit Marijuana Abuse Today

Even with marijuana’s legal status in California and several other US states, the risk of addiction remains a significant concern. While some individuals find therapeutic value in its medicinal applications, others grapple with controlling their usage without professional intervention. At Harmony Place, located in Los Angeles, California, we are committed to supporting those who are dealing with the negative impacts of marijuana abuse.

At Harmony Place, we understand that financial considerations are often a substantial factor when seeking help for addiction. To make our services more accessible, we accept health insurance from a range of providers, including Anthem BCBS, Aetna, Cigna, Blue Shield of CA, Carelon, and Humana. This is part of our commitment to alleviating the financial stress of treatment, enabling you to focus fully on your journey to recovery.

We encourage you to connect with Harmony Place to evaluate your insurance coverage. Our team stands ready to help you navigate your policy details and how it can support your treatment plan. Remember, reaching out for help is the first crucial step towards recovery, and every step thereafter, we will be there to guide and support you. Contact us today and let’s pave your path towards a healthier future together.

Contact us today to begin treatment for marijuana addiction.