The Physical Effects of Cannabis
Cannabis or marijuana is the most commonly used drug in 12-17 year olds and the younger the user, the greater the chances of becoming addicted to it are, even when the physical effects of cannabis negatively affects your health.
Cannabis is often referred to as a gateway drug and users will often experiment with other harder drugs once they have tried cannabis.
It is therefore very important to address any addiction issues or concerns before further drug experimentation.
Cannabis also known as weed, dope, grass or pot can be smoked or vaped, but also used in food and drinks.
It is used mostly for pleasure or recreation; however, it is becoming more and more popularly prescribed by doctors to treat a number of medical ailments.
The physical effects of cannabis on your body may vary depending on the way the drug is ingested.
If inhaled, the drug enters the bloodstream immediately and can make its way to your organs and brain. This can happen in seconds or minutes.
If you eat or drink products that contain cannabis, it must first go through your digestive system and liver before making it into your bloodstream, which can happen in minutes to hours.
The main active ingredient of cannabis is THC, which stimulates the part of the brain which responds to pleasure. As a result, dopamine is released, which creates a relaxed and euphoric state.
This is also known as a ‘high’. THC can also help with pain and nausea or cause a reduction in appetite or insomnia, which is why marijuana is sometimes prescribed medically.
Physical Effects of Cannabis
Cannabis has a significant impact on the brain and the body, which means it can quickly become addictive. The physical effects of cannabis include:
- Affect your ability to form new memories
- Increase your appetite
- Slow your reaction time and cloud your judgement
- Have respiratory effect such as irritating your lungs, burning your mouth or throat, and increase your risk of bronchitis
- Effect your circulation by increasing your heart rate and expanding your blood vessels, causing redness of the eyes
- Release dopamine to trigger euphoric feelings and heighten your sensory perception
- Alter your ability to process information and impair your judgement
- Weaken your immune system making you vulnerable to infection
- Impact your baby if you are pregnant, reducing their memory, concentration, and problem-solving abilities
- Make you frightened, anxious, paranoid or panicked
- Negatively impact your mental health by increasing the chances of depression or worsen existing mental disorders
- Changes in sex drive
- Poor memory
Mental Health Effects of Cannabis
There are many mental health effects as well as physical effects of cannabis use.
As cannabis is a psychoactive substance it can also have significant effects on a user’s mental health.
In some cases these can be more severe than with other ‘harder’ drugs. The mental health effects of cannabis include:
Roughly one in ten individuals who use cannabis are at risk of becoming addicted. Being addicted to cannabis means you will continue using the drug even if it negatively effects your health, work life, home life, finances or relationships.
The chances for becoming addicted to cannabis are higher the younger you are. Addiction rates also increase if you use the drug heavily.
If you become physically dependent on marijuana, you will experience withdrawal symptoms that may include:
- Loss of appetite
- Upset stomach and digestive system
Detoxing from Cannabis
The first step of cannabis addiction treatment is detoxing – the process of letting the body remove the drugs in it. Detox should be professionally supervised to safely manage the withdrawal symptoms of the physical effects of cannabis use.
Depending on the addiction history of the individual, but especially when other drugs of addiction are being used, a medically supervised hospital drug detox is recommended.
A hospital detox is usually necessary where poly drug use (concurrent use of multiple substances) is present.
Because there are both physical and psychological components of cannabis addiction, a psychosocial recovery program should be used in tandem with hospital detox for the best outcome.
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