Marijuana addiction is a trap that is just as easy to step into as caffeine, tobacco, or alcohol addiction. We probably all know how easy it is to just try smoking a marijuana cigarette at a party; it is almost as easy as drinking your first beer or smoking your first ‘normal’ cigarette. Often it is even considered to be ‘cool’ to smoke ‘weed’ and get high. But before we know it, this innocent occasional smoking of marijuana, or cannabis, will slowly but surely lead to a desire to use more, more often, and in stronger concentrations. And then after a while, we can no longer speak of the occasional fun moments of being high, it can become a serious addiction that influences our body and mind intensely daily and can start ruling our life.
For thousands of years many cultures around the world have used the hemp plant for many purposes, and they still do today. As early as 8000 BC, fabrics were made from the plant, it was used to manufacture rope and the seeds were even used as food. Somewhere along with the road people discovered it could be smoked and from this moment on, smoking dried hemp, (also known as cannabis or marijuana), became popular. It provided relaxation, which eventually evolved into using stronger concentrations of the dried plant to achieve a higher state of mind.
The active ingredient in marijuana is called THC. This is the substance that causes a ‘high’. Marijuana that is used for smoking usually consists of dried and shredded leaves of the hemp plant; the stems, seeds, and flowers are also used. Dried marijuana is usually green, gray, or brown and often has the structure of tobacco.
There is a higher and lower quality of marijuana; the higher quality is a composition of the flowering top and buds of the hemp or cannabis plant, while the lower quality can contain all parts of the plant. People that use marijuana usually smoke it as a cigarette, better known as a joint, or in a bong or pipe. Other ways of usage are mixing marijuana with foods (such as cookies) or brewed in the form of tea.
There is another variety of marijuana, known as hashish; this is a very high concentration of dried THC rich material of the plant, compressed into a paste-like range of different forms. The color of hashish can vary from dark red/brown to black. Pieces of hashish are broken off and smoked in pipes. There are many different names to describe marijuana, most common are; pot, weed, grass, and herb.
Is Marijuana Addictive?
Marijuana is used by people of all ages, and marijuana addiction can continue from early on until users are parents or grandparents. Naturally, if a child is brought up knowing that their parents are habitual users of a drug they are more likely to do the same. Studies have shown that usage is common from the age of 12 and most people have tried marijuana at least once in their life. There is a group of people that use the drug maybe once or twice a month and can control it, but there are others that end up using it more and more.
Because marijuana is a drug that is fairly easy to obtain, people of all ages are vulnerable to their use. People of all social backgrounds, education, and gender are users, and especially teenagers, as marijuana is reasonably cheap and thus an affordable way to get high.
In recent years new strains of the traditional hemp plant have been bred, and these give a much more intense experience or high. Often referred to as “skunk” these new strains appear to be far more addictive than the original strains of the plant.
Another worrying aspect of modern times is that it is far more common now to find that marijuana, or skunk, has been laced with other drugs that are highly addictive and dangerous. Addicts buying their weed from the street have no idea what has been added to their drug. Many dealers deliberately add particular drugs to the base plant knowing that it will be easy to persuade their customers to move up the ladder to other, harder drugs if they have already placed the marijuana with them.
Many habitual users, marijuana addicts to give them a more accurate title, harvest seeds found in the dried leaf form they buy from dealers and then grow their plants either in their houses or in their yards. Plants have been found on common land, in backyards, in attics, and bedrooms. Marijuana is easy to grow and simple to tend. Many of those who choose to grow their plants say that at least this assures them of knowing that they are using only marijuana, with nothing added to it without their knowledge.
There is another group of marijuana users; those who suffer from illnesses and have a subscription to medical cannabis. In some cases, medicated forms of cannabis can bring relief in symptoms for those undergoing chemotherapy, are suffering from AIDS and it can be very effective when used in a properly supervised environment, as an analgesic.
Substance Abuse Marijuana
Marijuana addiction or abuse can cause some mental health and physical problems. Let us just think of the health problems smoking alone can cause; chronic bronchitis, a higher vulnerability to chest colds and coughs, long-term emphysema, or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Even at a lower dose, marijuana causes loss of attention, concentration, and coordination. Under the influence of marijuana, a person is less aware of the world around him or her and becomes a potential danger to others as well as him or herself. High doses of marijuana can produce hallucinations, paranoia, personal identity loss, memory gaps, blurred or distorted vision, and loss of mental and physical control. Marijuana contains toxins and carcinogens, therefore when abuse continues over a long period; there is an increased risk of developing cancer, particularly in the respiratory system, head, and neck.
There are some signs which indicate marijuana addiction or abuse, all depending on how skilled the addict has become in hiding his secrets of course. Usually, the obvious smell of the typical, heavy, sweet marijuana smoke clings to clothing and hair, and there can be a bit of a sleepy, confused appearance. Pupils are often dilated and eyes can appear bloodshot. Someone under the influence of marijuana generally seems to move in slow motion and gives the impression of just not being there mentally – an absent mind. A general loss of interest in having a fresh or clean appearance might occur. For people who struggle with marijuana addiction, it can be difficult to stay active; they suffer from apathy, which often results in antisocial behavior, staying indoors, and losing touch with the outside world.
How can you help a person that might not agree with you about needing help? It often takes quite some time before someone is ready to face his or her problems. Confrontation and acceptance are the toughest moments in the early stages of recovering from marijuana addiction – both for the addict and those supporting and helping him or her.
Nowadays we are fortunate enough to live in a society where most people are admired when they seek help for their problems. That does not mean that it is an easy thing to do; admitting you have a serious problem such as an addiction to any kind of drug takes a lot of courage, getting help to overcome it takes a great deal of perseverance from the addict and those supporting them. But once that first step has been taken, when the marijuana addict can say; ‘yes I have a problem and I need to fix it’, a large part of the battle has been fought. Besides the help of the professionals and programs at rehab centers, it is of great importance to have feedback and support from friends and family.
Rehab For Weed Smokers
Many rehab programs will include family members and friends as part of discussion groups and meetings, so not only the person that is undergoing rehab but also the people who have to be strong being around them, have a chance to be heard and to feel supported. This long winding road of ups and downs ahead might be a rough one, but with combined forces a better life is possible and it is never too late to start caring for others or yourself.