Cannabis has been around for thousands of years. It has been referenced in different historical documents as far back as 2700 B.C. in China, India, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Most of the time, people used the plant to make clothes or other fabrics (using hemp fiber) for medicinal purposes. The mind-altering properties of cannabis were known and used in religious ceremonies and also recreationally. A greek historian, Herodotus, described that the Scythians, ancient tribes of warriors in Asia, would inhale the vapors of cannabis seeds and flowers.
History of Marijuana
People brought cannabis to the New World in the 1500s, primarily for hemp, a strong fiber used to fabricate clothes and sails and ship rigging equipment. It became an essential crop all over the world. During that period, some people also used the drug recreationally. When the industrial revolution came about, and steam-powered engines started taking over, the demand for hemp decreased, and the United States began to grow cotton. And the hemp cultivated in the U.S. was a low-THC variety. The Mexican Revolution started in 1910, and many people came to America to escape the conflict and brought cannabis with them. When Prohibition began in 1920, cannabis became a cheaper replacement for alcohol.
Marijuana’s Effects on the Brain and the Mind
Although marijuana is now legal in different states and countries, it doesn’t mean it is safer now than it was before. Here are some of the warnings the CDC gives:
Marijuana has been linked to anxiety and other psychiatric disorders, although it has not been determined whether marijuana is the direct cause.
Daily or near-daily marijuana use can damage one’s memory, learning skills, and attention for a week or more after the last use.
Using marijuana during pregnancy or while breastfeeding can harm the baby.
Smoking marijuana and any other product can cause damage to your lungs and cardiovascular system.
There is mounting evidence that marijuana use in humans can cause long-term and possibly permanent damage to the brain. It seems especially true for those who start using marijuana before adulthood. A teenager’s brain is still developing, making it more susceptible to adverse changes and development impairment.
Here are other effects linked to the use of marijuana:
- Cognitive impairment
- Decreased life satisfaction
- Dry mouth
- Inability to concentrate
- Increased appetite
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased breathing rate
- Increased heart rate
- Increased risk of stroke
- Lack of perception of time
- Lowered reaction time
- Memory loss
- Problems with coordination
- Red eyes
- Respiratory problems
Marijuana has been dubbed a “gateway drug” for a long time. This topic is controversial. Although many people who use marijuana will never go on to use a more problematic drug, some never would have used a more complex drug had they not started out using marijuana. Marijuana is a more socially-accepted drug (legal in some states) and is promoted as a “natural drug” with little risk. Therefore, some individuals would never touch any “hardcore drugs” but would use cannabis, thinking it’s not a big deal. And for some, it might never become a big deal, but for others, this starts a downward spiral that can devastate lives.
Here are three reasons marijuana can lead to the use of other drugs:
A person who uses high marijuana or uses it can often develop a physical tolerance. As the individual can no longer recreate the high they once had, they could try a more potent drug to reach it.
Marijuana is a mind-altering drug and can impair one’s cognitive function. Although an individual might never have gone near a drug like prescription opioids while sober, marijuana can impair judgment and make one more susceptible to out-of-character decisions.
A person who uses marijuana will often start hanging with others who do the same. There is a higher chance that one of these friends will have other drugs, and by that fact alone, marijuana use can increase one’s exposure to other drugs. Therefore, there is a higher risk of abusing another drug.
How to Help Someone Using Marijuana
If you realize that your child or someone close to you is addicted to marijuana, you shouldn’t ignore it or put off taking action. Don’t wait for the problem to go away. Learn what you can about marijuana abuse and its effects on teenagers. Once you understand it, you can talk to your child or loved one about their marijuana problem, its risks, and how it can affect them physically and mentally. It is essential not to be confrontational or accuse them. Be honest, compassionate, and straightforward; you are here to help them. Although they might think marijuana use is harmless, bringing up these points could help them see that they should stop.
It would be best not to enable the person. Boundaries need to be set. If you are dealing with your teenager, financial assistance helps them get more marijuana. A common thing is cutting off this financial assistance. This can be uncomfortable for the person, but they need to realize that their life will be uncomfortable if they keep abusing marijuana. Another part is making sure to establish consequences if they keep using marijuana. It would be best if you did not make idle threats; follow through with the consequences.
If they are resistant to getting help or unable to stop on their own, they should get professional help. If necessary, staging an intervention with a specialist can be very efficient. You can also speak to a professional counselor, such as one of our specialists, to assess whether the problem is just marijuana abuse or addiction. Depending on the assessment, they can help you find the best treatment plan and available facilities.
Definitions of Common Terms Related to Marijuana
|Cannabinoids||compounds found in cannabis. There are over 100 cannabinoids in cannabis, which can have different physiological effects on the body. Two of the most known cannabinoids are THC and CBD.|
|CBD||stands for cannabidiol. It is a non-intoxication compound found in cannabis.|
|Gateway drug||any drug whose use may lead to more dangerous or addictive drugs.|
|Hemp||plant in the same family as cannabis but cultivated for its fiber or seeds. It has a relatively small amount of THC compared to the plant variety grown to make marijuana.|
|Psychoactive drug||A drug that affects the central nervous system changes how the brain works and causes changes in mood, awareness, thoughts, emotions, or behavior.|
|THC||stands for tetrahydrocannabinol. It is the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis and is mostly responsible for the “high” and other marijuana effects.|