Northpoint the Evergreen is proud to provide answers to common questions about drug and alcohol rehab.
If you or someone you love needs drug or alcohol rehab, you undoubtedly have many questions about the process. Marijuana has been cited by studies as the most commonly used drug in the world, with over 2% of the Earth’s population using it in some form. Along with that, there have been significant changes in federal and state policy regarding marijuana legalization, pushing it into mainstream conversations more and more.
Marijuana was already a much discussed topic before these recent laws were passed, with one of the key questions being whether it was possible to be addicted to marijuana, and also if it is possible to overdose on marijuana. Marijuana can be smoked, eaten in items such as brownies, gummies, etc., vaped, and taken in oils containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) extract. Any form of marijuana containing THC will produce euphoria, or the sensation of being “high”.
Here are some answers to common questions about marijuana:
Typically, when overdose is discussed it refers to drastic effects that result from consuming too much of a substance. Occasionally those effects can include death, which is generally what the question of possible overdose is truly asking. The likelihood of death from consuming too much marijuana is extremely unlikely, but it is in fact possible to consume too much marijuana and experience side effects that are more severe and longer lasting than with smaller doses.
If a person has consumed a large amount of marijuana in one sitting they may experience side effects and symptoms similar to regular marijuana use, although to more drastic extremes. These symptoms can include
- severe confusion
- persistent anxiety, paranoia, or panic
- rapid/increased heart rate
- intense delusions or hallucinations, either auditory or visual
- increased blood pressure
- severe nausea and/or vomiting
All of these symptoms may put a person at risk of other injuries. Motor vehicle accidents are a possibility due to the altered state a person is in when using marijuana, but also if a person has any pre-existing conditions, specifically related to their heart, blood pressure, and/or lungs, they could be in danger of related medical problems resulting from the stress on their system.
It is possible to become addicted to marijuana. The CDC reports that 1 in 10 people who use marijuana will become addicted. They also indicate that for a person who begins using marijuana at a younger age, specifically before the age of 18, the statistic changes to 1 out of every 6 people.
Someone who cannot stop using marijuana or feels they are incomplete without it may be addicted. Sacrificing friendships, losing jobs, using marijuana in high risk situations, and resorting to illegal activities in order to obtain marijuana may all be signs of a marijuana addiction.
Someone who is dependent on marijuana relies on the drug to produce certain effects on a regular basis. They may use marijuana daily as a way to feel “normal.” Dependence is a problem because it leads to the body becoming used to a substance and leading to more frequent use and also an increase in the amount used each time. This is one way that dependence often leads directly to addiction.
Addiction is characterized by a physical/mental “need” or craving and can impact a person’s life by the substance becoming the seemingly most important thing. If someone has tried to quit using marijuana but was unsuccessful, they are most likely addicted. Also, a person who has begun to withdraw from daily life and misses important situations due to marijuana use, or because they are trying to find and purchase more marijuana, is more than likely addicted.
Similarly, marijuana use that impacts involvement with friends, family, school, employment, and other important aspects of life may indicate an addiction.
Although there are as many debates about marijuana withdrawal symptoms as there are about marijuana addiction, the fact is that if someone uses marijuana enough they can experience withdrawal symptoms. Harvard Medical School explains that if the natural receptors in your brain which synthesize THC, the main euphoria-inducing ingredient in marijuana, become used to a much higher level of stimulation than normal, removing that stimulation will absolutely result in withdrawal symptoms.
They may not be as severe as withdrawal symptoms from other drugs or substances, but they will undoubtedly affect a person physically and mentally. A person may experience severe headaches, paranoia, nausea and/or vomiting, sweating, shaking, and higher levels of anxiety due to marijuana withdrawal.
If you use more marijuana than you intended, feel intense cravings for it, or cannot stop using it, then you may be addicted. Also, dedicating a lot of time to finding and buying marijuana could be a sign of addiction as well. One aspect of addiction to other substances that is often cited is repeated use despite negative consequences and outcomes. If you are consuming marijuana continually despite losing your job due to marijuana, or situations similar to this, then you may be addicted.
Ask yourself how often you smoke or consume marijuana. If it is daily, and if it is multiple times a day, ask yourself if you could stop. These are good ways to approach the concept of addiction and whether you feel as if your life can continue in a way without marijuana.
Have you seen drastic changes in your life that are related to marijuana? If you are seeing all your money go to marijuana or marijuana-related items, and if you are incapable of stopping this, then you may be struggling with addiction.
Another possibility is that you are struggling with a co-occurring disorder, which may mean you need to enroll in marijuana rehab for an addiction, but also to seek treatment for depression, anxiety, or other mental/behavioral health disorders. If you are using marijuana to try and escape feeling hopeless or forget certain traumatic experiences, you may be struggling with other aspects of your mental health that can be addressed through certain kinds of therapy available in IOP at Northpoint Evergreen.
Long-term marijuana use, especially when the use started during adolescence or before the age of 18, has been shown to lead to long-term memory problems and difficulties with verbal communication. Along with this, regularly smoking marijuana can in fact lead to breathing and lung problems, as well as a potential for chronic bronchitis.
Memory loss, a decreased attention span, and difficulty learning are possible long-term effects as well, particularly when marijuana is used regularly as the brain is developing in adolescents and teenagers. Although there are no definitive studies directly linking lung cancer to long-term marijuana use in those who smoke it, cancer is still one of the possibilities due to the inflammation of the lungs and occasionally unknown contents of marijuana being smoked.