Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the U.S. UU. Learn about the history of marijuana, its effects, withdrawal symptoms and addiction treatment. Learn more about Hazelden Betty Ford's multiple levels of virtual outpatient addiction treatment.
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Join students, alumni, faculty and staff at one of our scheduled open days to gain a real insight into the lives of graduate students at Hazelden Betty Ford. Online learning opportunities on substance use disorders, alcohol and drug prevention, violence prevention, behavioral health issues and more. Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States and is usually smoked in the form of a hand-rolled cigarette (joint) or in a pipe or water pipe (bong). The drug is also smoked in what is called smoke, a cigarette that is emptied of tobacco and filled with a mixture of marijuana and tobacco.
Marijuana smoke has a pungent and distinctive bittersweet smell. Another way to ingest the medicine is to mix the leaves, flowers, stems or seeds of the plant with food or to prepare the leaves in the form of tea. The use of medical cannabis began in the United States in the 1850s, when products with cannabis extracts were produced and sold to treat diseases such as muscle pain and spasms. Soon after, pharmaceutical regulations were introduced in some states.
Products containing addictive substances, such as cannabis, were often labeled as poisons and, in some cases, were only available with a prescription. Today, the federal government classifies marijuana as a Schedule I substance, meaning that the drug poses a high risk of abuse and is considered to have no medicinal uses. However, several states have legalized marijuana for adult recreational use, and 23 states, as well as the District of Columbia, allow the use of medical marijuana to treat certain medical conditions. Right now, the FDA has approved several THC-based medications to treat pain and nausea.
And scientists are still investigating the medicinal properties of other chemicals found in the cannabis plant, such as cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive compound that is being studied to determine their effectiveness in treating pain, pediatric epilepsy and other conditions. Learn more about the history of marijuana and legislative policy. When you smoke marijuana, THC quickly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, which carries the substance to the brain and other organs in the body. THC is absorbed more slowly when ingested through food or drink.
Regardless of how THC is ingested, the substance acts specifically on cannabinoid receptors in brain cells. These receptors, normally activated by THC-like chemicals naturally produced by the body, are part of the neural communication network, called the endocannabinoid system, which plays an important role in the normal development and functioning of the brain. Research indicates that marijuana use can cause or aggravate problems in daily life. Heavy consumers tend to report lower satisfaction with life, poorer mental and physical health, more relationship problems, and less academic or professional success compared to peers who don't use them.
Drug use is also associated with a greater likelihood of dropping out of school. Several workplace studies associate marijuana use with increased absences, delays, accidents, workers' compensation claims and turnover. Marijuana use is associated with a variety of health problems, in particular related to heart and lung problems and mental health conditions. A study found that people who smoke marijuana frequently but don't smoke tobacco have more health problems and miss more days from work than those who don't smoke marijuana, mainly due to respiratory illnesses.
It is not yet known if smoking marijuana contributes to the risk of lung cancer. Research also indicates that use increases heart rate by 20 to 100 percent soon after smoking; this effect can last up to three hours. A study found that marijuana smokers have a 4.8-fold increase in the risk of heart attack within the first hour after using the substance. The risk may be even greater for older adults and people with heart vulnerabilities.
More research is needed to better understand these links and ramifications of mental health. Marijuana use during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of neurobehavioral problems in infants. Because THC and other compounds mimic the body's endocannabinoid chemicals, marijuana use by pregnant women can alter the developing endocannabinoid system in the fetal brain. The consequences for the child may include difficulties related to attention, memory and problem solving.
In addition, because it impairs judgment and motor coordination, marijuana use contributes to an increased risk of injury or death while driving a car. Data analysis suggests that marijuana use more than doubles the risk of a driver suffering an accident. On a related note, the combination of marijuana and alcohol increases driving impairment more than either substance alone. Contrary to common belief, marijuana is an addictive substance.
Research suggests that approximately nine percent of users develop addiction. The estimated incidence of addiction increases among people who start using it at an early age (an estimated 17 percent develop addiction) and among people who use the drug daily (an estimated 25 to 50 percent become addicted). Marijuana addiction is most commonly diagnosed during adolescence or early adulthood. However, recent trends toward greater social acceptance of marijuana use and greater availability of recreational and medical forms of the drug may increase the addiction rate among older adults.
As with other types of drug addiction, there are behavioral and physical signs that may indicate addiction to marijuana (known medically as cannabis use disorder). Because many of these withdrawal symptoms mimic the warning signs of other conditions and problems, an expert evaluation by an addiction professional is necessary to determine if marijuana withdrawal is the cause. Treatment or rehabilitation options for marijuana addiction are similar to treatment programs and protocols for addiction to alcohol and other drugs. Evidence-based therapies, such as twelve-step facilitation, cognitive-behavioral therapy, motivational enhancement therapy, and other scientifically valid approaches, can be effective addiction treatment options, depending on the person's situation, other drug abuse and treatment needs.
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The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation is a force for healing and hope for individuals, families and communities affected by addiction to alcohol and other drugs. As the nation's leading nonprofit provider of comprehensive inpatient and outpatient addiction and mental health care for adults and youth, the Foundation has telehealth treatment centers and services across the country, as well as a network of collaborators across healthcare. Through charitable support and a commitment to innovation, the Foundation can continuously improve care, research, programs and services, and help more people. With a legacy that began in 1949 and includes the founding in 1982 of the Betty Ford Center, the Foundation is today committed to diversity, equity and inclusion in its services and throughout the organization, which also includes a graduate school in addiction studies, a publishing division and an addiction center for research, promotion of recovery and thought leadership, professional and medical education programs, school-based prevention resources, and a specialized program for children growing up in families with addictions.
Although the addictive qualities of marijuana are much debated, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana addiction occurs when the brain modifies its production and sensitivity to its own endocannabinoid neurotransmitters to adapt to large quantities of marijuana. There are no approved medications that can help recover directly from marijuana addiction, however, pharmaceutical treatment (with more appropriate psychiatric medications) may be useful if marijuana use is a method of “self-medication” for an underlying mental health problem. If you or someone you know is addicted to marijuana, the American Addiction Centers (AAC), the leading treatment program in the U. The programs combine evidence-based therapeutic interventions, such as contingency management and cognitive behavioral therapy, with 12-step facilitation therapy to help clients rebuild their lives without relying on marijuana or any other substance.
In some cases, it may be more difficult to get people with marijuana addictions to participate in treatment programs that can help. Treatment options for marijuana addiction (or rehabilitation) are similar to addiction treatment protocols for other drugs. While anyone can become addicted to marijuana, there are a few factors that can increase a person's risk of developing a drug addiction. Overcoming marijuana addiction isn't impossible, but it will require hard work, dedication and a long-term treatment plan that addresses all the different aspects of addiction.