Warning Signs, Symptoms and Side Effects of Marijuana Abuse

Marijuana is the most widely abused drug in United States and there is a great need to raise awareness regarding its harmful effects. It is a common misconception among young population that marijuana is not addictive and there are not any significant harmful effects associated with marijuana abuse. After its legalization in certain states, its use is only going to increase even further. With prolonged abuse, the signs and symptoms of abuse become obvious that can be helpful to figure out if a loved one is struggling with marijuana addiction.

How to recognize marijuana addiction:

It has been a topic of great discussion whether marijuana is an addictive drug or not. There have been different viewpoints concerning the addictive nature of marijuana. Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol is the main chemical associated with the feelings of euphoria and development of addiction. When marijuana is smoked, this chemical is readily added to the blood via lungs. Through bloodstream, it enters brain and produces its euphoric effects. The use of marijuana causes changes in perception, heightened senses and extreme happiness. These effects are desirable for the user that force him to take the drug over and over again. Prolonged use of the drug can actually cause addiction. The brain becomes used to function in the presence of THC and craves for it. Development of cravings and withdrawal symptoms when the drug is quit are the warning signs of development of addiction. Apart from this, a number of other behavioral changes can also be observed in the user such as:

  • Lack of interest in everyday activities
  • Secretive behavior
  • The user lies when he is questioned about his behavior
  • Poor performance at school or office
  • Impaired coordination
  • Distorted perception of time and things
  • Forgetfulness
  • Inability to concentrate on anything

Signs of marijuana addiction:

With the prolonged use of marijuana, its physical and psychological side effects become obvious. These signs can be helpful to recognize a drug victim. Some common physical and mental signs which are found in a drug addict of marijuana are stated here:

Physical signs:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Inability to walk properly
  • Increased heart rate
  • Depressed respiration
  • Heightened senses
  • Slurred speech
  • Delayed reaction
  • Increased appetite
  • Drowsiness
  • Problem with memory
  • Learning deficit

Psychological symptoms:

  • Relaxation
  • Euphoria
  • Happiness
  • Increased energy
  • Altered sense of time
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Panic attacks
  • Psychosis

A user can experience many of these symptoms after abusing marijuana. Some people experience more severe symptoms than others. It depends upon a number of factors such as amount of marijuana consumed and the tolerance level of the user. After smoking high amounts of marijuana rich in THC, some users can even experience a heart attack. It occurs because the heart rate is increased to dangerous levels after smoking excessive amount of marijuana. Some signs of heart attack include:

  • Chest pain that radiates towards arm
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Neck, jaw or back pain

If these symptoms are observed in someone, immediate help should be provided to the victim by calling 911. If immediate care is not provided, even death is possible.

Long term side effects of marijuana abuse:

The prolonged use of marijuana is associated with serious health effects. A wide number of American youth thinks that smoking marijuana is safe. however, the long term use of marijuana can cause a number of physical and mental health problems such as memory deficit, chronic cough, respiratory infections and impaired cognitive abilities.

  • The studies conducted on adverse effects of marijuana revealed that people who start smoking it from a young age end up losing their IQ points. It is possible to lose up to 10 IQ points. Most of the harmful effects produced by marijuana are short term and are reversed when the drug is quit. However, losing IQ and memory deficit may never reverse.
  • Men who start smoking marijuana from a tender age are at a risk of developing a unique type of testicular cancer termed as nonseminomatous testicular germ cell tumor. Although treatment is possible, the man may become infertile.
  • Women of childbearing age who smoke marijuana are at a higher risk of having stillbirth or new borns with low birth weight. The child produced may also have learning deficits and problems with memory.

Marijuana overdose:

Taking too much marijuana at once delivers high amounts of THC to the body. The body is only able to process and detoxify certain amount of the drug at a given time. Excessively increased amounts of THC result into poisoning and overdose symptoms are produced. Some symptoms of marijuana overdose may include:

  • Shaking
  • Extreme hallucinations
  • Extreme anxiety
  • Extreme discomfort
  • Paranoia

Although it is possible to overdose on marijuana no matter the mode of administration, the chances are increased when it is consumed in the form of edibles. It takes some time for marijuana to produce its effects when it is eaten. The person may mistakenly think that he has not consumed enough marijuana to produce effects and may end up taking more.
Consuming excessive marijuana may also result into a heart attack and death.