Is Cannabis Harmless?
Every day, more cities or states are closer to legalizing cannabis. Many already have. Due to health benefits that marijuana can have when regulated or administered medically, it has received a reputation of being harmless. Unfortunately, cannabis is not a harmless drug. Abuse and overuse can produce after effects that range from mild to serious just as any other foreign or mind-altering substance entering the body. Due to the reduced perception of marijuana as a narcotic, many people do not think that they need recovery or rehabilitation from cannabis. Some facilities do not even offer treatment or detox for it. Royal Life Centers, however, does understand that while it may not be as dangerous as synthetic chemicals, it can have an impact on our bodies.
People who misuse or abuse marijuana can suffer from low levels of energy, memory loss, reduced motivation, apathy, some depression and agitation, insomnia, paranoia and withdrawal from previous interests. These symptoms may persist after marijuana use ends. Because many users of cannabis choose to smoke it, it has a direct negative effect on lung health. Smoke is harmful to the lungs, no matter what. Regardless of what you are burning, inhalation of any kind of smoke contains carcinogens and irritants that are toxic or detrimental to your breathing. According to Lung.org, “research shows that smoking marijuana causes chronic bronchitis… smoking marijuana leads to symptoms such as chronic cough, phlegm production, wheeze and acute bronchitis.”
Recognizing Cannabis Use Disorder
Those with a cannabis use disorder almost always consider themselves recreational users, but will use marijuana for any occasion: to cheer themselves up, celebrate their good mood, to go to sleep, before eating, as a social activity, even during certain times of the day. Many users of marijuana make smoking part of their identity, and will tend to flock to and congregate only with others who smoke. Marijuana has a culture all it’s own. Paraphernalia of weed leaves can be found in malls across America.
Some of the behaviors to look out for if you think that you or someone you love may be using too much marijuana includes:
- Red Eyes
- Overeating Junk Foods
- Lack of Performance in School or Work
- Withdrawing from Friends and Family
- Making Marijuana Use a Primary Hobby
- Becoming Overly Involved in Drug Culture
- Spending Excessive Amounts of Money on Marijuana
After someone with a cannabis use disorder can admit their addiction, recovery after abstinence may be quicker than for alcohol or other drugs, with rapid improvement in alertness and mental agility. It’s been described as “coming out of a fog.”
Withdrawal from marijuana does happen, but generally it is not as dangerous or painful as with other substances. If you do decide to quit marijuana cold turkey, which we do not recommend, you may experience some effects such as:
- Reduced Appetite
- Fevers, Chills and Sweating
Other aspects of marijuana addiction recovery may be trickier. Since marijuana is often a young person’s drug, therapists have to work to encourage abstinence without severing the user’s connection to his peers and their culture. As we stated above, many young people create a social circle around marijuana use. Once they become abstinent from the drug, they may feel as though they have lost part of their identity or that they will need to change their friend groups. Many of the connections that they had were with “smoking buddies”.
If you are a user of marijuana who has decided to quit, you will need to be open minded and patient through this process, to accept the fact your counselors are not “against” you and your friends but are trying to prevent you from ruining your life with continued drug use. You will be guided through coping tactics. It is important to learn how to enhance your self-esteem, solve your problems in other ways besides using marijuana, and to discover other, more satisfying and rewarding activities. Your counselors may want to do periodic urine tests during any outpatient rehabilitation for added accountability.
You may be advised to find new friends and stay away from anybody who uses cannabis or other drugs. This may appear extreme and you may think it’s extreme, but the fact is that continued association with pot-smokers is almost guaranteed to make you go back, and continued pot smoking far too often is followed by a switch to heavier drugs.
In treatment, you should be made to feel that someone will be available for you to talk to if you’re having unusual stress or if you feel in danger of relapse. The point is to get the support you need in a positive way, and not to seek out drugs or the drug-using crowd for the illusion of support.
Overcoming the Long Term Effects of Cannabis Use
It may be even harder for the cannabis user than for users of other substances to overcome denial, not just because the drug impairs judgement but because it prevents the user from gaining any useful insight into his feelings or behavior. Clouded judgement and impaired perception making are very real effects of marijuana use. It’s not easy to see the negative side of use when you are high.
Emotional problems associated with marijuana are complex, affecting behavior and motivation. They may take as long as a year to resolve. Royal Life Centers provides a comprehensive addiction treatment program that will use intensive therapies and other proven-effective methods of addiction treatment to transform you into the person you always wanted to be. You are not alone, and it is important to remember that an addiction to any substance is difficult to overcome – even cannabis.
If you or a loved one has a dependency or addiction to any substance, please reach out to us about your detox and treatment options. Royal Life Detox admissions staff is available 24/7 to answer your questions and address your concerns. We can be reached at (877)-RECOVERY or 877-732-6837. Because We Care.