As the top misused illicit drug, marijuana can become addictive if used for an extended period of time. Users should learn beforehand the risks and consequences associated with extended marijuana usage. In some states, marijuana usage is now legal for medical patients. Patients should carefully consider the risks and side effects associated with marijuana before they take it. Like many painkillers, long-term usage can cause marijuana addiction and other associated problems.
The Majority of Smokers
Compared to other drugs, marijuana users tend to just try the drug recreationally and do not become addicted. In comparison, 32 percent of tobacco users, 17 percent of cocaine users and 23 percent of heroin users will become addicted. Considering the illegal nature of marijuana in most states, it has been difficult for scientists to properly gauge how addictive marijuana is. For the majority of individuals, scientists believe that marijuana is not actually addictive.
Symptoms of Marijuana Withdrawal
Individuals who do develop marijuana addiction may suffer symptoms of withdrawal when they try to quit. They may have problems sleeping and find it difficult to go to bed at night. Users may feel anxious and suffer from anxiety or depression. Many people often develop gastrointestinal problems and nausea. Most symptoms begin a day after the user quits and reach a peak after 3 days. Within a couple of weeks, the majority of withdrawal symptoms should subside.
One of the recurring issues with marijuana addiction is moderate depression. Marijuana stimulates the production of serotonin and dopamine in the brain. Science has shown that these two chemicals are directly responsible for how happy someone feels. For someone who has been using marijuana for years, the drug will take over the mind’s ability to feel happy without chemical stimulants. Since serotonin is also the chemical that induces quality sleep. If a patient has problems with their serotonin levels, they will feel depressed and suffer from insomnia.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana addiction occurs in about 9 percent of users. For users who begin at a young age, this number rises to 17 percent. The government-sponsored institute considers marijuana usage to be an addiction once it begins to effect the functioning of social activities, work and family life.
Other Medical Issues
Marijuana usage can cause other medical problems before the user quits. Immediately after the user takes a hit, their heart rate can increase by 20 to 100 percent. For some individuals, the heart rate may stay up for up to 4.8 hours after they ingested the drug. With consistent use, marijuana users may develop lung problems.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, smoke from marijuana has 50 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco. Although this does not seem to cause an increase in lung cancer rates, marijuana smokers often do suffer from coughs, lung infections or increased phlegm production.
For long-term users, marijuana addiction is a possible side effect. Although most users will not become addicted, marijuana use still carries harsh criminal penalties.
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