Imagine the world where the youth run wild, driven to madness and manslaughter, attempted murder, reckless driving and even underage abuse and sex. Imagine the world where all of this is happening because every young adult is using weed. Sounds horrifying, right? Well, that was the driving focus of the most famous propaganda film of the last century, “Reefer Madness.” Of course, the movie was intended to spur politics and the minds of the country’s families against the newly popular drug, marijuana.
What is Marijuana?
Marijuana, also known in more common terms as weed, is a flowering plant most commonly found growing close to equatorial zones. Known for thousands of years, marijuana has been cultivated in countries ranging from India to Spain to Canada and even some isolated Pacific islands. In other words, the plant is ubiquitous. So how can a simple and quite common flowering plant cause such a stir in our fast-paced, modern, and international culture? The answer is simple: marijuana is a known psychoactive hallucinogenic drug and is illegal to federal the United States and many other countries’ laws.
Effects of Marijuana
The short-term effects of using weed are varied. Weed is considered to be a mild hallucinogenic drug, with many users reporting vivid visual effects like color saturation and closed eye visuals resulting from use. However, according to the National Institute for Drug Abuse, the most commonly felt effects of marijuana included the following:
- a sense of euphoria
- muscle relaxation
- pain relief
- stimulated appetite
In addition to the positive short-term effects of the drug, marijuana is currently under several federal clinical trials that are attempting to establish the medical uses of the drug, with many speculating good results as a sleep aid and pain reliever.
However, there is a downside to using marijuana. Many users report feelings of extreme anxiety, a rapid rise in blood pressure, impaired coordination, impaired memory and in some cases even insomnia. According to the American Psychological Association, marijuana in high doses has been known to induce limited cases of psychosis, and even schizophrenia in those who are genetically predisposed to the condition. For most users, many negative short-term effects have been shown to subside after weeks or months. Unfortunately, for some users and even more abusers of marijuana, several severe long-term effects of the drug have been proven to exist.
Long-Term Effects of Marijuana Abuse
While many people use marijuana for its positive effects, especially in the short term, many others suffer from the highly negative long-term effects of weed. In fact, a study published by the New Zealand Drug Enforcement Agency in 2013 followed over 300 teenagers and young adults who used marijuana for more than three years. The study results found that over 70% of the participants had a reduced IQ score and evidence of decreased long-term memory storage when compared to an average population.
While the results of that study are highly specific, general long-term effects of marijuana abuse include the following:
- decreased short and long-term memory
- reduced fast-twitch motor functioning
- reduced attention span
- increased risk for respiratory illness
- psychological dependence
- increased risk of severe mental disorders
The most obvious long-term health effect of marijuana consumption is a reduced ability to remember events that occurred during marijuana use. Weed changes the way users’ neurotransmitters fire, reducing their activity and making the users’ muscles and brains work harder to produce healthy levels of attention, motor function, and memory.
However, the most dangerous long-term health effects of using weed are respiratory illnesses and psychological dependence. Marijuana is most commonly consumed via the airways, as either vapor or smoke. Unfortunately, smoking anything increases the risk of respiratory illnesses like the flu and pneumonia. The most insidious long-term effect of weed is the fact that marijuana is an addictive psychoactive substance. Long-term users’ bodies and brains become so used to operating under the consequences of marijuana that they have a hard time living without the drug. Unfortunately, dependence and addiction cause many users to lose jobs and even end up in legal trouble to get their daily high.
Inpatient Treatment for Using Weed
If you or someone you know and love are suffering from the long-term health effects of marijuana use, inpatient treatment can help. Inpatient treatment can reduce the withdrawal effects of stopping marijuana use, such as insomnia, anhedonia, and a severe loss of appetite. Inpatient treatment can also provide support groups for recovering addicts and allow them to transition back to daily life without the help of a drug-induced high. Under the care of professional addiction counselors and doctors, patients can receive the help they need to relieve many of the adverse effects of abusing weed.