Marijuana Abuse 

Marijuana is the most widely used illegal drug in the U.S. Recently, it became legal for recreational and medicinal use in certain states. It is called by various names such as pot, weed, blunts, grass, reefer, ganja, hash, or hashish. It is usually smoked, but it can be mixed with foods or brewed as a tea. Recently a practice known as "dabbing" or "smoking wax" has become popular. This means smoking highly concentrated extracts of the marijuana plant. The result is more side effects. Sometimes, marijuana can be sold with PCP (angel dust) or amphetamine mixed in it. These drugs can cause other harmful side effects.

Marijuana can cause the following effects:

  • Changes in mood, such as stimulated, happy, drowsy, depressed, or paranoid

  • Visions (hallucinations)

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure

  • Red eyes

  • Increased appetite

  • Time distortion, trouble concentrating, or memory problems

  • Lung damage. This is similar to cigarettes with chronic cough, wheezing, frequent colds, and bronchitis.

  • Rarely, collapse of the lung (pneumothorax)

  • Decreased sperm count

  • Dizziness, vertigo, and possibly slurred speech

  • Vomiting. Even though marijuana is used to treat nausea and vomiting, some chronic daily users have the opposite effect. They vomit uncontrollably for long periods of time (cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome).

You can become psychologically dependent on marijuana. That means the craving to use the drug is emotional or psychological rather than from physical withdrawal.

Is marijuana running your life?

Here are some of the signs:

  • Relying on marijuana to feel good, forget problems, deal with stress or to relax

  • Wanting to be alone most of the time or only with others who use drugs

  • Losing interest in things that used to be important

  • Changes in school or job performance or attendance

  • Spending a lot of time thinking about how to get marijuana

  • Stealing or selling your things so you can buy marijuana

  • Unable to stop using even though you may want to quit

  • Increasing anxiety, anger, or depression

  • Sleeping too much, or changes in eating habits (weight loss or gain)

  • Needing to use more to get the same effect

Home care

These suggestions will help you manage marijuana abuse:

  • Once you have become addicted to any drug, quitting is hard to do. Most people find they can't quit without help. So don’t try to do this alone. Talk to someone you trust who can support you. Seek professional help.

  • Stay away from people and places where drugs are used. That only increases the temptation to use.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised.

For more information or a referral to a treatment center in your area, contact:

  • Your local mental health center or the National Alcohol and Substance Abuse Information Center: 800-784-6776 or www.addictioncareoptions.com

  • National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence: 800-622-2255 or www.ncadd.org

  • Marijuana Anonymous: 800-766-6779 or www.marijuana-anonymous.org

When to seek medical advice

 Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • You feel extreme depression, fear, anxiety, or anger toward yourself or others.

  • You feel out of control.

  • You feel that you may try to harm yourself or another.

  • You have chest pain or shortness of breath.

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