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The most used illegal drug in the United States is marijuana. Marijuana has maintained its popularity for decades as the number one illicit drug in America. Marijuana is often considered "safe," and is also considered a "gateway drug" because of the perception by many of its users that it is mostly harmless. However, marijuana is mind altering substance, and it does have very real and lasting effects on the body.
Marijuana is most often smoked in rolled papers of homemade "joints." However, it can also be smoked in a bong or a pipe. Sometimes, marijuana is mixed with other drugs (notably cocaine) and smoked in that manner. Marijuana is also rather famously known as a substance that can baked as well as brewed into a tea.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population above the age of 12 has used marijuana at some point. That is about 97.8 million Americans. Marijuana is most popular among those between the ages of 18 and 25, with 16.3 percent of them using marijuana in the past month. Nearly everyone who tries marijuana for the first, no matter their age, gets it from a friend.
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There is no doubt that marijuana is a very popular drug. In most states, though, it is illegal. Some states do allow marijuana for medical use and for pain management in terminal patients. However, the very real health effects of marijuana mean that it is impractical for long-term use.
Effects of marijuana
Marijuana is a mind altering drug that produces an effect of distorted perception. It has a psychoactive effect that produces a "buzz." However, marijuana use can also provide a feeling of relaxation and well being. These are some of the short term effects of marijuana on the mind. There are long term effects as well.
In terms of health, marijuana can have some lasting effects. Regular marijuana use can result in short-term memory loss. This means that users may not be able to remember what has happened to them recently. Additionally, marijuana use can interfere with a user's ability to learn. Other effects of marijuana on the body and mind include:
- Increased risk of lung infection and cancer.
- Chest illnesses and other respiratory problems.
- Withdrawal symptoms resulting from dependency.
- Panic attacks and anxiety.
- Elevated heart rate
It is important to note that rumors that marijuana is better for your health than smoking tobacco is actually an urban myth. In reality, marijuana smoke can have between 50 and 70 percent more harmful carcinogens than is found in tobacco smoke.
The Drug Abuse Warning Network estimates that more than 215,000 emergency room visits each year are due to marijuana use. So it is important to note that marijuana use can cause problems, despite being considered "safe" by many.
Treating marijuana substance abuse
You need to watch for the signs of marijuana abuse in friends, loved ones and teenagers. This is especially important amongst young adults, since this is the group most susceptible to marijuana use. Some of the signs of marijuana substance abuse include:
- Blood shot eyes.
- Clothing and hair frequently smell like smoke.
- Drug paraphernalia in the room, or carried about (most notably a bong).
- Memory seems to be deteriorating.
- Starts to lose interest in outside activities, including work, family and school.
- Dramatic changes in weight and/or sleeping habits.
Marijuana substance abuse can result in withdrawal symptoms once treatment is begun. Be aware that restlessness, anger, irritability, headaches, loss of appetite and cravings may be symptoms of marijuana withdrawal. Depression can also be a withdrawal symptom, and this will need to be treated along with the substance abuse problem.
Many people choose not to enter treatment facilities when they battle marijuana substance abuse. However, these facilities may be especially helpful, as they provide a support system, as well as medical and emotional attention. There are some things that you can do, though, to help combat cravings for marijuana while treating the problem:
- Take a walk every day. It can help to go with someone you care about.
- Avoid people who use marijuana.
- Keep a journal and log each day's events.
- Listen to music to take your mind of marijuana cravings.
Loved ones can also help by being supportive and available. Even though some consider marijuana withdrawal symptoms to be less severe than the symptoms of other drugs, the emotional and mental issues that come with marijuana treatment can last for more than 45 days.