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Marijuana Abuse and how to beat it

Jul 19, 2008
Marijuana is commonly seen as the least dangerous of the illicit drugs, and definitely, the short-term negative effects of marijuana use are not as evident as with other illegal substances. But even if the damage done is comparatively small, when we bear in mind the vast numbers of marijuana users, marijuana may actually be doing more damage than any other drug on the street!

Lots of persons believe that marijuana is not a dangerous drug and that it should be as legal to buy and use as liquor. Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the industrialised world and, besides alcohol, marijuana is the most commonly used drug by young folks.

Marijuana is a dry, shredded green/brown mix of flowers, sticks, seeds, and leaves of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa. It is usually smoked as a cigarette (joint, reefer), or in a pipe (bong). It also is smoked in blunts, which are cigars that have been depleted of tobacco and refilled with marijuana, often in combination with another drug. It may also be combined in food or brewed as a tea. As a more concentrated, gummy form it is termed hashish and, as a sticky dark liquid, hash oil.

Marijuana use has a strong and distinctive, commonly sweet-and-sour odor. Some people think that the smoke smells like burning rope. There are numerous street terms for marijuana including pot, herb, weed, grass, widow, ganja, and hash, as well as terms derived from trademarked kinds of cannabis, such as Bubble Gum, Northern Lights, Fruity Juice, Afghani #1, and a number of Skunk varieties.

The main effective chemical in marijuana is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). The membranes of particular nerve cells in the brain contain protein receptors that bind to THC. Once securely in place, THC launches a series of cellular responses that ultimately lead to the high that users experience when they smoke marijuana.

Scientists have learned a great deal about how THC acts in the brain to produce its many effects. When someone smokes marijuana, THC rapidly passes from the lungs into the circulation, which takes the chemical to organs throughout the body, including the brain.

In the brain, THC attaches to specific regions known as 'cannabinoid receptors' on nerve cells and acts upon the activity of those cells. Some brain areas have many cannabinoid receptors; others have few or none. Many cannabinoid receptors are discovered in the parts of the brain that control gratification, memory recall, intellectual thought, attentiveness, sensory and time awareness, and coordinated bodily action.

The short-term effects of marijuana can consist of complications with memory recall and learning, distorted perception, complications in thinking and problem-solving, loss of dexterity and increased heart rate. Research conclusions for long-term marijuana misuse indicate some changes in the brain similar to those seen after long-term use of other major drugs.

Marijuana can also have an adverse influence on the heart. One research experiment has proven that an user's risk of heart damage more than quadruples in the first hour after inhaling marijuana. The scientists propose that such an effect might result from marijuana's effects on blood pressure and pulse rate and reduced oxygen-carrying capacity of blood.

A user's lungs are also affected. A study of 450 individuals found that persons who smoke marijuana frequently but do not use tobacco have more health problems and miss more days of work than nonsmokers.

Many of the additional sick days among the marijuana smokers in the study were for respiratory illnesses. Even infrequent use can end up causing burning and pain of the mouth and throat, often accompanied by a heavy cough. Someone who smokes marijuana regularly may have many of the same breathing complications that tobacco users do, such as daily cough and phlegm development, more regular acute chest illness, a heightened risk of lung infections, and a bigger tendency to obstructed airways.

Smoking marijuana conceivably increases the likelihood of contracting cancer of the head or neck. A research experiment comparing 173 cancer sufferers and 176 fit people produced evidence that marijuana smoking doubled or tripled the risk of these tumors.

Marijuana abuse also has the potential to promote cancer of the lungs and other regions of the respiratory tract because it is comprised of irritants and cancer causing agents.

In fact, marijuana smoke is comprised of 50 to 70 percent more cancer-causing hydrocarbons than does tobacco smoke. It also induces high levels of an enzyme that converts certain hydrocarbons into their carcinogenic form -levels that may accelerate the variations that ultimately produce malignant cells.

Marijuana users typically inhale more intensely and hold their breath longer than tobacco smokers do, which elevates the lungs' exposure to carcinogenic smoke. These facts suggest that, puff for puff, smoking marijuana may be more harmful to the lungs than inhaling tobacco.

Some of marijuana's adverse health consequences may occur because THC impairs the immune system's capability to fight illness. In laboratory experiments that exposed animal and humanoid cells to THC or other marijuana ingredients, the normal disease-preventing reactions of many of the key types of immune cells were inhibited.

In other studies, mice exposed to THC or related substances were more liable than unexposed mice to pick up microbial infections and tumors. Research clearly shows that marijuana has the potential to cause complications in everyday life or make a person's existing difficulties worse.

Depression, anxiety, and personality disturbances have been linked with persistent marijuana use. Because marijuana compromises the capacity to learn and remember information, the more a person uses marijuana the more he or she is liable to fall behind in accumulating educational, job, or social skills.

Moreover, study has found that marijuana's adverse influence on memory recall and learning can last for days or weeks after the acute consequences of the drug wear off. Students who smoke marijuana get inferior grades and are less likely to graduate from high school, compared with their nonsmoking friends.

A research experiment of 129 university students discovered that, among those who smoked the drug at least 27 of the 30 days subsequent to being surveyed, crucial skills related to attention, memory recall, and learning were appreciably diminished, even after the students had not taken the drug for at least 24 hours. These "serious" marijuana users had more trouble sustaining and shifting their concentration and in chronicling, organizing, and using data than did the study participants who had used marijuana no more than 3 of the previous 30 days.

As a result, a person who uses marijuana every single day may be functioning at a reduced intellectual capacity all of the time. Subsequently, the same researchers demonstrated that the capacity of a group of long-term serious marijuana users to recall words from a list remained reduced for a week after abstaining, but returned to normal within four weeks. Thus, some intellectual capabilities may be restored in individuals who quit smoking marijuana, even after long-term heavy use.

Workers who smoke marijuana are more prone than their fellow workers to have complications on the job. Several experiments connect workers' marijuana smoking with increased absences, tardiness, mishaps, workers' compensation claims, and job turnover. A study among post-office workers found that employees who tested positive for marijuana on a pre-service urine drug test had 55 percent more industrial accidents, 85 percent more injuries, and a 75-percent increase in nonattendance compared with those who tested negative for marijuana use. In an additional research experiment, serious marijuana abusers said that the drug impaired several significant measures of life achievement including intellectual capabilities, career standing, social life, and bodily and mental health.

Research has demonstrated that some babies born to women who abused marijuana during their gestation show changed responses to visual stimuli, increased tremulousness, and a high-pitched cry, which may indicate nerve difficulties in development. During the preschool years, marijuana-exposed children have been observed to carry out tasks involving uninterrupted concentration and memory recall more poorly than non-exposed children do. In the school period, these children are more prone to demonstrate deficits in problem-solving skills, memory, and the capacity to remain attentive.

Long-term marijuana use can lead to addiction for some people. That is, they misuse the drug compulsively even though it interferes with family, school, work, and recreational activities. Drug craving and withdrawal symptoms can make it hard for long-term marijuana users to stop abusing the drug. People trying to quit describe touchiness, insomnia, and paranoia. They also display increased anger on psychological tests, peaking approximately one week after the last use of the drug.
About the Author
For more information on Dope Addiction visit us at http://www.addictiontodrugs.org/marijuana_addiction.php
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