What is Marijuana?

Marijuana is usually a greenish-gray mixture of the dried parts of the cannabis plant (leaves, stems, and flowers). Advancing cultivation methods have added other colors, including purple and red.

The main active ingredient in marijuana is “tetrahydracannabinol” (called “THC”). When smoked, the effects of THC are almost immediate and can last from one to three hours.

On the street, marijuana is referred to by many names, including:

  • Pot
  • Grass
  • Weed
  • Hemp
  • Chronic
  • Herb
  • Ganja

How is Marijuana Ingested?

Marijuana is mainly ingested though inhalation by smoking. There are many ways to smoke marijuana, including:

  • Joints. Marijuana is rolled in paper and smoked like a cigarette, usually without a filter.
  • Blunts. Marijuana is packed into pre-made cigar tubes or hollowed out cigars.
  • Bowls. Small hand pipes designed for smoking marijuana.
  • Bongs. Larger pipes of varying complexity and size, and that may include water chambers.
  • Hookahs. Large elaborate pipes with hose attachments for multiple users.

Vaporizing or “vaping” marijuana is becoming a popular method of inhalation. Vaping electronically heats marijuana to a temperature where the THC vaporizes, but without actually burning the material.

Burning and smoking marijuana creates a pungent smoke, while vaping marijuana creates a less intense odor (may smell something like burnt popcorn). Vapor generally dissipates more quickly than smoke.

Marijuana can also be processed and added into foods (“edibles”).

How Does Marijuana Affect the Brain?

When THC enters the bloodstream, it breaks down into chemicals that are similar to naturally occurring chemicals in the brain. These chemicals activate receptors in the brain, many of which are found in the areas of the brain governing pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, time sense and perception, and coordinated movement. THC over activates and floods the system, leaving users with the “high” and other side effects.

Why Worry about Marijuana Addiction?

In some areas of the country, marijuana is popularly viewed as a safe – even recreational – when compared to other street drugs like heroin and cocaine (or even when compared to alcohol use).

Several states in the country have adopted laws that permit “medical marijuana” dispensaries, where the drug is available by prescription. Other states are fully legalizing marijuana use, or decriminalizing its possession.

It would be easy to fall into the mindset that marijuana presents no real danger to the public.

However, marijuana is a drug – a mind and mood altering substance – and marijuana addiction is real. People who chronically use marijuana – and chronic users who try to stop – often experience adverse effects both physical and psychological.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Marijuana Addiction?

Marijuana use can increase paranoia and depression, and cause an inability to think clearly. Although these effects will tend to wear off within a relatively short period, for some users they can last for an extended period of time. Some psychological effects can last for months.

A person who has, or is developing marijuana addiction may display any of the following signs and symptoms, including:

  • Tolerance: Larger and larger amounts of marijuana may be needed to reach the same level of intoxication that the user could reach with smaller amounts when use began.
  • Loss of Control: People struggling with marijuana addiction may often find themselves using more than they planned, promised, or intended.
  • Cravings: People with marijuana addiction will find themselves obsessively thinking about marijuana, and may feel a strong sense of urgency or “need” to get high.
  • Self-Medicating: Many people begin using marijuana to relax, or to cope with feelings (like anxiety, depression, etc.). Users may find themselves psychologically dependent on the marijuana and will be unable to relax or deal with feelings in the absence of the drug.
  • WithdrawalWithdrawal symptoms may occur if marijuana is denied or unavailable, including agitation, anxiety, irritability, poor appetite, mood swings, insomnia, depression and fatigue.

What Can You Do?

Call our Arizona treatment center today to find out what therapy programs may be available for you or your loved one. Our rehab facility in AZ is available, 24 hours a day, at 866-239-1700, or contact us here.