There are many myths about the use of marijuana. Since marijuana addiction often involves psychological rather than physical addiction, many mistakenly believe that marijuana abuse is not possible, that it is easy for the marijuana user to just stop using marijuana at any time, especially since several states now allow the limited use of marijuana for some medical conditions. Studies show that about 5 million Americans regularly use marijuana and in the last 20 years rates of marijuana use and the strength of marijuana that is grown have both drastically increased. Studies show that marijuana use is truly a “gateway” drug and that the majority of those that use marijuana increasingly become abusers of alcohol and other harmful substances.
The regular use of marijuana has been shown to have many negative and detrimental physical and behavioral effects, with most users reporting some sort of side effect from regular marijuana use. Marijuana use has been cited as a contributing cause to many motor vehicle accidents, as short term use has been associated with memory defects, mental clouding and confusion. Those individuals who use marijuana regularly have a higher risk of developing respiratory tract infections, bronchitis, emphysema and COPD, as well as lung cancer due to the high tar content of marijuana. Use during pregnancy has been shown to result in small infant size and birth weight and children whose mothers smoked pot during their pregnancy have higher rates of blood cancers.
While detoxing from Marijuana does not normally include the severe and life threatening symptoms that are associated with withdrawal from alcohol, it is still possible to experience physical withdrawal symptoms when detoxing from marijuana use due to tolerance and physical and psychological dependence. These withdrawal symptoms are more likely to occur after suddenly stopping marijuana use after long term use and may nausea, tremors, sweating, weight loss, insomnia, agitation and irritability.
Whether the addictive substance is marijuana or some other substance, psychological dependence is often the hardest part of breaking free from addiction. Most drug treatment programs for marijuana abuse and other addictions include education, monitoring of drug use, and social support. In addition to these measures, supportive medications are often prescribed to help those who experience withdrawal, acute panic reactions, and flashbacks after they stop using marijuana. Once the detox phase is completed, the addict is referred to a drug addiction treatment program that will use education, therapy, counseling, group support and other means to help the marijuana user learn to cope with the stresses of life without marijuana use so that they do not relapse and begin using marijuana or some other substance.
While marijuana is legal to use for a limited number of medical conditions in a handful of states, marijuana abuse is a real problem that harms the users of marijuana and society as a whole. Those who abuse marijuana should not remain in denial about the dangers of marijuana use and should take steps to receive help in ending their marijuana addiction.