Cannabis Abuse Marijuana Abuse

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Marijuana is a gray or green mixture of dried flowers and leaves from the Cannabis sativa, or hemp plant. Cannabis is also known as pot, grass, bhang, charas, ganja, weed, and hashish. It contains a chemical known as THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). When this chemical is smoked or eaten, it creates a high.

What is going on in the body?

THC binds to the protein receptors of certain nerve cells. It starts a set of cellular reactions that create the high feeling. It also acts as a sedative, which means it has a calming effect. The individual may have a sense of well-being or euphoria. Perceptions are altered. Marijuana can be a psychologically addictive drug.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

Marijuana abuse is associated with several factors. These include:

  • family influence, such as drug abuse in one or both parents
  • genetic factors, which may make a person more prone to addiction
  • psychiatric disorders
  • social factors, such as exposure to situations that encourage drug abuse
  • Symptoms & Signs

    What are the signs and symptoms of the condition?

    Marijuana has both short- and long-term effects on the body. Short-term effects last 2 to 4 hours when the marijuana is smoked. They can last 5 to 12 hours when it’s taken by mouth. Short-term effects include:

  • accelerated heart rate
  • anxiety
  • delirium
  • delusions
  • disordered thinking
  • hallucinations
  • impaired concentration, thinking ability, and judgment
  • impaired perceptual and motor functions
  • inappropriate emotions
  • increased appetite
  • increased blood pressure
  • short-term memory loss
  • An individual abusing marijuana may have any of the following long-term symptoms:

  • ignoring consequences despite knowing the negative effects
  • legal problems
  • repeat failure to meet duties at work, school, or home
  • using marijuana when it is especially dangerous such as when driving
  • Diagnosis & Tests

    How is the condition diagnosed?

    Urinalysis or blood tests can show if a person has used marijuana.

    Prevention & Expectations

    What can be done to prevent the condition?

    Education on healthy attitudes and knowledge of the risks of drug abuse are the best preventive measures. Not tolerating drug use and teaching children early about the dangers of drug use are important strategies.

    What are the long-term effects of the condition?

    Long term use of marijuana increases a person’s risk for the following diseases and conditions:

  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis
  • heart disease
  • increased risk for heart attack
  • increased risk for lung cancer
  • loss of ambition or inability to carry out long-term plans or function effectively
  • psychological addiction
  • reduced breathing capacity
  • Marijuna use after age 45 causes significant stress on the heart. People in this age group have a five-fold increase in their risk for heart attack for about an hour after they smoke the marijuana.

    What are the risks to others?

    Marijuana abuse reduces judgment, impulse control, and motor control. An abuser puts others at risk for accidents and emotional injury.

    Treatment & Monitoring

    What are the treatments for the condition?

    Treatment begins by helping the person admit there is a problem. Overcoming denial is the first step. Complete abstinence is needed. Recovery programs are helpful. They teach coping skills and life-management strategies. Self-help groups such as Narcotics Anonymous have helped thousands remain drug free.

    What are the side effects of the treatments?

    There are no significant side effects to recovery programs and self-help groups.

    What happens after treatment for the condition?

    Those who complete treatment often continue with counseling or self-help groups. They may voluntarily participate in self-help groups indefinitely.

    How is the condition monitored?

    The person and his significant others can monitor marijuana use. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.

    Article type: xmedgeneral