The use and abuse of marijuana is widespread globally, and in the US, this is of particular concern. Various studies have clearly pointed out the extent of use among youngsters in America. The journey with the recreational drug almost often begins with casual use when youngsters get together for occasions, away from the care of parents or guardians. This slowly progresses to some forma of addiction, and as statistics reveal every tenth muser of marijuana ends up with an addiction. In addiction to this addiction, there are various adverse effects and changes seen in users. Here is a good look at the side effects of marijuana and how it controls the behaviour of users.
Common form of use of marijuana
As mentioned above, most users of the drug are introduced to it in convenient settings and the most common form of use is smoking or vaping. While it is also consumed, by either mixing it in a drink or sometimes eaten, the preferred form of intake is smoking or vaping. The substance is glorified by visuals of smoke being inhaled/exhaled, and mood enhancing background scores. This entices youngsters to take to the drug when in the right settings, and in the company of like-minded individuals. Unknown to first time users, this introduction to the drug is bound to result in individuals experiencing side effects of marijuana as a result of repeated use/abuse.
Common side effects of marijuana that are cause for concern
While most medications and supplements have side effects that impact functions of the body or organs, the side effects of marijuana are mainly mind altering in nature. While other side effects may also manifest, the effects that are cause for concern are due to the psychotropic properties. One of the simple reasons that make the substance appealing to youngsters and adults is the intoxicating property. The ability to give the individual a fix, a high is the reason behind its use. This is one of the reasons for its eventual adverse impact on the mental well-being of individuals taking the drug. Most individuals take to the drug for the high that it offers, however, over a period of time, when it degenerates to a level of addiction and abuse, the effects turn negative in nature.
Social incompatibility of marijuana addicts : panic attacks and feelings of distress
Side effects of marijuana include possible panic attacks for no apparent reason. The psychotropic effects of marijuana are primarily as a result of THC in the drug. Acronym for Tetrahydrocannabinol, the stimulant is responsible for the euphoric feelings. However, depending on the exact frame of mind of the individual or the circumstances that push the individual to seek release through marijuana, the effect of the drug could trigger feelings of distress and panic. It is more of an emotion amplifier and when the individual is already in a good mood, positive feelings are experienced. Similarly, when the individual is experiencing some kind of emotional turmoil, the feelings that are amplified are the negative feelings. There are instances of individuals imagining circumstances or incidents and reacting as per the imagined scenario. This is one of the reason or paranoia seen in drug addicts, that makes them socially incompatible.
Side effects of marijuana in ability to take informed decisions or make balanced judgement
One of the side effects of marijuana is the impact on the ability of individuals to make balanced judgements. This is attributed to the presence of chemicals that are mind altering in nature in the drug. This distorts the thinking abilities of the individuals as the effects on the reward pathways take precedence. In such situations, individuals end up, taking wrong decisions that could either impact the person or others. For instance, individuals driving under the influence of intoxicants are more likely to cause accidents, as a result of slower reflexes or inability to make a balanced judgement. Addicts are known to feel the effects of disorientation, with delayed reflexes. The ability of individuals to judge timings and speed based on visual inputs are likely to be impaired when under the influence of intoxication of some form. This is regarded as one of the reasons for a large number of accidents.
Many incidents and accidents are attributed to risky behavior on the part of individuals. For instance, a sober person is more likely to weigh the risks involved in a certain action or reaction, and unlikely to take certain risks. However, in the case of individuals under the influence of intoxicants, the response to risky situations is different. Consequently, the individual is more likely to perform actions that could either endanger themselves or others. This tendency to go ahead with risky behavior can have very serious life altering consequences, especially among young men and women. For instance, youngsters are more likely to indulge in casual sex, when under the influence of intoxicants including marijuana. This could expose youngsters to dreaded sexually transmitted diseases or in some cases result in unplanned pregnancies.
Side effects of marijuana – progression from casual smoking to addiction
There is every possibility of youngsters progressing from a casual smoking experience to addiction of some form. As mentioned earlier, one tenth of all individuals who take to marijuana are likely to end up with addiction. This is because of the urge to have a stronger and more intense experience. As the urge to get a stronger and longer fix develops, this craving turns into addiction. And in most instances, the addiction is not necessarily to marijuana, but includes other substances. With addiction comes the burden of withdrawal symptoms and individuals find it difficult to shake off the characteristics that are associated with withdrawal. This comes at the cost of relationships, social conduct and professional development. Addicted individuals show little or no concern for any dimension of life other than the craving for a timely fix. This also results in significant impact on expenses and earnings of the individual and by extension, the family.
Reduced learning ability and development
The side effects of marijuana include a serious impact on the individual’s ability to focus, to learn and develop the ability of the brain to constantly improve. Memory power is significantly impacted in individuals on marijuana, and this will have disastrous consequences in the academic performance of students. This could also have an impact on the ability of the individual to discharge professional functions. Memory loss is not permanent or long term in nature and is usually linked to the duration of use or abuse of the substance. In most instances, individuals are known to consume marijuana for a longer time, and consequently, memory loss is likely to affect individuals longer. The possibility of individuals giving up marijuana altogether after having taken it for some time or a number of times is remote, thereby exposing individuals to long term memory loss.
Respiratory issues attributed to side effects of marijuana
In addition to the above side effects of marijuana there are other adverse effects from marijuana. For instance, individuals on marijuana are likely to experience some of the adverse effects experienced by smokers. The impact of smoking on the lungs and build-up of phlegm are likely to be similar. While smokers of tobacco may end up with more severe or persistent side effects, marijuana smokers may have slightly lesser side effects. This is mainly because tobacco contains a mix of various chemicals when it is lit and inhaled. This causes severe damage to the lungs and results in build-up of phlegm. Additionally, smokers also suffer from cough, depending on the condition and the amount of smoke inhaled. Some of the effects experienced by marijuana users are more or less similar to that of smokers.
Increase in weight or loss of weight due to side effects of marijuana
Marijuana users are known to be disinterested in food or other activities. However, there are instances of individuals on marijuana who end up consuming food without any control. Consequently, there is a possibility of individuals either losing weight or gaining weight, depending on the type of dietary change or behavioral change. There could be an abnormal increase in appetite or there could be a total lack of appetite. Therefore, one of the side effects of marijuana is possible loss of weight or gain in weight.
Effect of marijuana on cardiovascular health
Among other side effects of marijuana, the effect on cardiovascular health is of particular concern. Addicts or individuals who take marijuana for a longer period of time are bound to burden the heart. For instance, the average heart rate of individuals is known to increase by as much as sixty percent over and above the normal heart rate. This effect typically lasts for a short duration immediately after the individual takes marijuana. In other words, from the moment the mechanism of action of the chemical substances or the properties in the marijuana start working, the heart rate increases. This condition lasts for as long as two to three hours depending on the amount consumed, and the quality of the marijuana. When the individual regularly consumes marijuana, the burden on the heart is spread over a longer period. This results in the individual being exposed to risk of stroke or heart attack. This risk is more or less similar to that of smokers, who are at risk of various health complications, in addition to cardiovascular health risks.
Caution and care to prevent abuse of marijuana
The reward pathways prompt individuals to take to marijuana due to the instant gratification. This poses serious health hazards to marijuana users, as its frequent use could result in eventual addiction. While policy changes presently permit the use of marijuana for certain conditions, this is not to be construed as a signal that it is safe and recommended. Medicinal use of marijuana is only for specific cases, and this is typically on the basis of considering the benefits and the side effects of marijuana. It is recommended for medicinal use only when there is a clear need, and when the benefits score higher than the possible risks. This is entirely different from casual use or recreational use, which does not serve any purpose other than intoxication.