Marijuana is the most commonly abused psychoactive drug. As a dry, shredded mix of the flowers, stems, and leaves of the hemp plant cannabis sativa, marijuana is usually smoked. However, smoked marijuana can cause respiratory problems or immune system deficiencies.
Can Marijuana Be Abused?
Yes, marijuana can be abused. While many people use marijuana for legitimate legal reasons, recreational use of marijuana has significantly increased in recent years. And while the number of people who use marijuana at any one time does not seem to have increased in the past decade, the number of people who have a marijuana-related disorder has increased significantly.
How Marijuana Is Abused
Substance abuse, also known as drug abuse, is a patterned use of a drug -in this case marijuana- which leads to harm to users or others. And while the term “drug abuse” has a huge range of definitions, using marijuana for non-therapeutic or non-medical effect is considered abuse.
During marijuana abuse, users consume weed in amounts or via methods which are harmful to themselves. In this case, marijuana is consumed via smoking or oral ingestion through foods. Smoking it can cause some of the same coughing and breathing problems as smoking cigarettes.
Marijuana is abused when:
1. Taken in amounts that are harmful
2. Taken for non-medical use and euphoric effect
3. Smoked, causing side effects similar to smoking
Side Effects of Marijuana Abuse
Within a few minutes after inhaling marijuana smoke, an individual’s heart rate speeds up, the bronchial passages relax and become enlarged, and blood vessels in the eyes expand, making the eyes look red. The heart rate-normally 70 to 80 beats per minute-may increase by 20 to 50 beats per minute, or may even double in some cases.
The intoxicating effects of marijuana include relaxation, sleepiness, and mild euphoria (getting high). Smoking marijuana leads to fast and predictable signs and symptoms. Eating marijuana can cause slower, and sometimes less predictable effects. Marijuana can also cause undesirable side effects, which increase with a higher dosage. These side effects include:
· Dry mouth
· Impaired judgement
· Increased risk of mental illness
· Decreased short-term memory
· Impaired perception and motor skills
More serious side effects include panic, paranoia, or acute psychosis, which may be more common with new users or in those who already have a psychiatric disease. Taking other drugs with marijuana can amplify these effects. Additionally, after regular use physical signs of marijuana addiction can indicate the need for treatment.
Signs of Marijuana Abuse
Some noticeable signs and symptoms of marijuana abuse include:
· Increased appetite
· Craving for sweets or food
· Forgetfulness in conversation
· Sleepyness or stupors in the later stages
· Inflammation in the whites of the eyes
· Lack of concentration and coordination
· Odor similar to burnt rope on clothing or breath
· Rapid, loud talking and bursts of laughter in early stages of intoxication
· Distorted sense of time passage and a tendency to overestimate time intervals
· Use or possession of paraphernalia including roach clips, packs of rolling papers, pipes or bongs