While some people think of marijuana as a safe drug, others claim that marijuana kills brain cells and causes brain damage with prolonged use. The truth lies somewhere in between. Every drug has its risks, so you shouldn’t delude yourself into believing that marijuana is completely harmless. At the same time, it’s only natural to be wary of exaggerated claims about the risks of regular marijuana use. For the sake of your long-term health, you need to understand the dangers of the substances that you consume, so you should take a look at this quick overview of the effects of marijuana on your brain and body.
Table of Contents
- 1 Does Marijuana Kill Brain Cells?
- 2 Is Marijuana Addictive?
- 3 Dangers of Marijuana Consumption
- 4 Signs of Marijuana Addiction
- 5 Is There a Way To Overcome Marijuana Use Disorder?
Does Marijuana Kill Brain Cells?
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary active ingredient in marijuana, has not been found to kill brain cells. However, marijuana can still have negative effects on the brain. Many marijuana users smoke the substance, and smoking brings carbon monoxide and other toxins into the body while decreasing the concentration of oxygen in the blood. Brain cells need an uninterrupted supply of oxygen and clean blood to function properly, so a person will lose brain cells if they choose to smoke marijuana.
Although THC doesn’t necessarily kill brain cells, it still has a massive effect on a person’s cognitive performance. Researchers have found that adults who regularly consume THC suffer from impaired memory, poor emotion processing, motor inhibition, reduced concentration, and other negative cognitive effects. Thankfully, most of these effects go away with after a few months of sobriety.
On the other hand, prolonged consumption of THC can cause long-lasting cognitive impairment in minors. Adolescent marijuana users are very likely to suffer from permanent learning difficulties, poor memory, and impaired emotional regulation with prolonged use. For this reason, it’s extremely important to keep minors away from marijuana and other mind-altering substances. Individuals who regularly consume marijuana also face an increased risk of developing depression, psychosis, other drug use disorders, and anxiety.
Is Marijuana Addictive?
There is a popular notion that marijuana is a completely non-addictive drug, but mainstream psychologists have come to a different conclusion. Marijuana use disorder has been a legitimate medical diagnosis in the United States since the 1990s, and modern addiction professionals take marijuana dependence more seriously than ever before. While marijuana is not as addictive as substances such as cocaine or heroin, it still engages the brain’s reward system and alters the body’s dopamine levels. Because of this, it’s possible for a person to become physically and mentally dependent on marijuana with consistent use. According to a recent study, 30% of marijuana users in the United States suffer from marijuana use disorder.
Dangers of Marijuana Consumption
Possession of marijuana is illegal in many jurisdictions. In some states, people spend decades in prison for possession of the tiniest amount of marijuana. Prosecution and incarceration resulting from marijuana possession can ruin your life, so the temporary high is not worth the long-term consequences.
Consuming marijuana can significantly decrease your coordination and reaction speed. In turn, you are more likely to get into an accident when you’re under the influence of THC. Driving with marijuana in your system is extremely dangerous for yourself and everyone around you, and you will likely get a DUI if the police pull you over while THC is in your system.
Marijuana smoke contains carcinogens and caustic compounds that can irritate the mouth, throat, and lungs. Consequently, regular marijuana smokers are more likely to suffer from bronchitis than non-smokers. On top of that, sharing pipes, joints, bongs, and other smoking implements increases a smoker’s risk of contracting viral respiratory infections.
Many reputable organizations require applicants to pass pre-employment drug tests. THC can stay in a person’s system for over a month after their last dose, so if you regularly consume THC, then you may be ineligible for a wide range of high-paying jobs. Some employers conduct random drug screening for current employees, and failing one of these drug tests can result in termination, revocation of licenses, and permanent disqualification from working in certain roles and industries.
Signs of Marijuana Addiction
Smoking as a Coping Mechanism
Many individuals who struggle with marijuana use disorder consume marijuana to deal with depression, anxiety, stress, and other negative feelings. People who use marijuana to deal with their problems are less likely to fix their problems or develop healthy coping mechanisms. This often exacerbates a marijuana user’s problems and leads to a vicious cycle of greater marijuana consumption to cope with worsening mental health.
Continuing To Smoke Despite Marijuana’s Negative Impacts
Most people can easily stop using marijuana once the drug’s negative effects become apparent. In contrast, someone who struggles with addiction may be unable to quit using marijuana even after the substance has clearly made their life worse. If you’ve continued consuming marijuana after suffering negative consequences resulting from your marijuana use, then you need to reach out to an addiction professional as soon as possible. Otherwise, your marijuana addiction will only lead to more trouble.
Obsessing About Marijuana Consumption
Constantly thinking about your next smoke session isn’t normal. Someone who struggles with marijuana addiction might regularly talk about marijuana with friends and acquaintances, and their friend group may consist primarily of other marijuana users. Once marijuana plays a central role in your personal identity and social life, quitting can be extremely difficult, so it’s a good idea to seek marijuana addiction treatment if marijuana-related activities are always on your mind.
Spending a Lot of Money on Marijuana
Even though marijuana isn’t the most expensive drug, it can still have a major effect on your finances. Many marijuana users easily spend hundreds of dollars per month on marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia. Someone who uses marijuana likely has a problem if their marijuana consumption has impacted their ability to save money or fulfill financial obligations.
Experiencing Withdrawal Symptoms
Individuals who struggle with marijuana dependence often start to go through withdrawal within 24 hours after their last dose. Early marijuana withdrawal symptoms include irritability, anxiety, insomnia, headache, difficulty concentrating, appetite problems, and nausea. Contact a reputable marijuana addiction treatment center if you experience any of these symptoms after abstaining from marijuana for several hours or days.
Using Marijuana at Inappropriate Times
The majority of people who suffer from marijuana use disorder have difficulty regulating their marijuana intake. Someone with a marijuana problem may smoke a joint before work, or they might go to family gatherings while under the influence of marijuana. Regularly getting high to deal with everyday activities is a big sign that you have a marijuana addiction.
Is There a Way To Overcome Marijuana Use Disorder?
Marijuana has ruined many people’s lives. Although some individuals can casually use marijuana without many negative effects, others are more likely to become addicted to the substance and struggle with significant life problems as a result. Fortunately, individuals who struggle with marijuana use disorder don’t have to overcome their addiction without help.
Recreate Life Counseling offers a wide range of convenient and effective marijuana addiction treatment programs. Every patient has unique needs, so the addiction professionals at Recreate Life Counseling help each patient pick the best treatment option for their situation. You shouldn’t let your marijuana use interfere with your health and happiness, so if you believe that marijuana has had a negative impact on your life, then you need to call or email Recreate Life Counseling today to learn more about marijuana addiction treatment programs in your area.