Marijuana has grown more popular over the past few years. With legalization happening in many states, weed is becoming more widely used by Americans. It is often overlooked, however, that regular drug use can have long-term effects on the user’s body. Those who smoke or ingest marijuana regularly can face severe consequences over time, also known as marijuana long-term effects.
While many might argue that marijuana is harmless, it can have dangerous long-term effects. Especially in the case of chronic use, weed and the chemicals contained within it can lead to symptoms that show up only later in life.
There are several options and approaches to addressing marijuana addiction, and it’s essential to understand what best suits your particular lifestyle or situation. Contact us at the AspenRidge Recovery Center for more information. We would love to be part of your success story. Call us at(719) 259-1107
Understanding the long-term effects of regular marijuana use helps to understand its short-term impact on the brain. The reason that marijuana enables its user to get high when smoking or ingesting it is because the THC in weed is very similar to another chemical our bodies already produce.
These chemicals, called endocannabinoids are responsible for regulating neurotransmitters in our brains. Essentially, they produce the substances that help our brains communicate with the rest of our bodies. They also work to regulate our metabolism, repair muscle tissue, and perform other functions. While it may sound like we would want as many endocannabinoids as possible, this isn’t necessarily the case. As THC enters the body, it triggers the brain to perform the same functions when it detects endocannabinoids’ presence. In turn, the body becomes confused, performing unnecessary tasks at the wrong times. Repeating this process can have adverse long-term effects on the brain and body.
Adverse Effects of Marijuana on the Brain
Any long-term user of marijuana will probably tell you that the drug has impacted their memory. This stems from the fact that, when it enters the body, the chemicals in the weed head straight for the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that stores short-term memories. As THC interacts with this component of our brain, it prevents the brain from adequately storing the information coming in. Over an extended period, the hippocampus weakens. As a result, it becomes less capable of storing memories.
In some cases, the brain can start to create false memories as a result. For example, in an attempt to piece together bits of poorly-stored information, the user’s brain struggles to create a mental image of their memories. As a result, one of the worst long-term effects of weed is weakened cognitive ability.
A Steady Decline in IQ
On average, those who abstain from taking cannabis show higher IQs than marijuana users. However, when tested, people who’ve smoked or ingested pot regularly for longer than thirty years tend to show diminished IQs over time. By measuring the IQ of a select group, researchers found that users tested an average of 8 points lower than non-users. This is mainly due to weed’s effects on the user’s ability to process and store information.
Effects of Marijuana on Teenagers
The same test showed that people who begin to use pot during their teenage years could cause permanent damage to their cognitive abilities.
Those who started smoking marijuana between the ages of 12 and 19 had the highest IQ reduction over the next decades of their life.
The effects of weed can be detrimental to teenagers. The teenage years are a crucial stage in brain development. It is dangerous for teenagers to threaten their cognitive development by using marijuana. The interruption of cognitive development can negatively affect behavior, impulse control, and emotional intelligence. Ultimately, cannabis can cause long-term problems for people who begin using as adolescents.
Marijuana Addiction or Dependence
While it is sometimes believed that marijuana is not an addictive drug, many signs point to the fact that it is. Understood by doctors as “marijuana use disorder,” cannabis addiction exists in varying degrees. In addition, it can have a range of side effects.
Studies have gone so far that at least 30% of people who use pot show symptoms of dependence on it. Like most addictions, dependence results in withdrawal symptoms when the user has no marijuana in their body. These symptoms can include anxiety, mood swings, intense cravings, lack of appetite, and even physical pain. Depending on the user’s addiction, these symptoms can last up to several weeks. Additional research has shown that more than 15% of marijuana addicts are people who began using it as teenagers.
Depression and Anxiety Cause by Marijuana
Some claim that marijuana does not cause depression or anxiety in users but only facilitates these conditions if they are already susceptible to them. This is not the case. One of the effects of THC is a dopamine flood in the brain. Because the brain is only equipped to handle so much dopamine at once, the user experiences a “low” when the high wears off. The oscillation between highs and lows can lead to a shortage in dopamine production. The lack of dopamine can be one cause of depression.
Marijuana is a potent cause of anxiety in young adults. Regular or chronic use can lead to a decrease in cognitive functions. As a result, teenagers and other young people find that they perform worse in school and are less capable of tending to their other responsibilities. This can lead to increased anxiety around self-worth and capabilities.
Those diagnosed with or genetically prone to schizophrenia can find their condition worsened by marijuana use. The drug can act as an initial trigger of symptoms or cause them to re-appear after being dormant for years. THC is known to cause the user to experience mild psychosis and is very dangerous for people with schizophrenic tendencies. However, many of the people who are susceptible to schizophrenia are unaware. Smoking or ingesting THC can lead to the appearance of symptoms that might otherwise stay hidden.
Long-Term Effects of Marijuana on the Lungs
The long-term effects of marijuana on the lungs can be as dangerous. They can be as detrimental to the lungs as cigarette smoke. Marijuana smoke irritates the respiratory system simply through inhalation. This process can cause users to develop a heavy cough over time. Because many pot strains contain dangerous chemicals, long-term use can increase the risk of lung disease and cancer. As marijuana repeatedly inflames the respiratory airwaves, it can lead to over-inflation of the lungs. Chronic weed users are known to develop bronchitis more frequently than those who abstain. As THC suppresses the immune system, long-term pot smokers open themselves to all kinds of problems, including pneumonia and lung infections.
THC-Related Heart Problems
As THC enters the bloodstream, it is carried to other body parts. This has been shown to increase the heart’s speed for prolonged periods. This effect of weed is hazardous for people who suffer from or are prone to heart problems. In addition, the seat can overwork itself under the influence of THC. In turn, prolonged use can increase the likelihood of heart attacks, strokes, and heart disease.
Negative Effects on Unborn Children
Among the most negative marijuana long-term effects, marijuana consumption can damage a child developing in the womb. Women who smoke marijuana while pregnant may put their future children’s memory and cognitive abilities at risk. As THC is taken into the body, it is passed on to the developing child, having similar effects on them that it would be a fully-grown adult. Additionally, chemicals found in marijuana will be present in breast milk if ingested during the lactation period.
Does Marijuana Cause Erectile Dysfunction?
There is a connection between marijuana and erectile dysfunction. As with smoking cigarettes, weed inhalation shrinks the veins and restricts how blood moves through the body. ED can ensue when the blood cannot flow properly through the reproductive organs. This is particularly true for marijuana users who already suffer from high blood pressure or other circulatory issues. The over-flooding of dopamine during marijuana use can be detrimental for many reasons.
As a dopamine rush results in positive moods and good feelings, chronic marijuana users can become accustomed to using the drug. However, the dopamine rush produced by THC is artificially-induced. If a man becomes accustomed to this effect of weed, he may not be able to obtain an erection on his own.
Detoxing from Marijuana
While marijuana can have long-term effects on the body, detoxing is possible. Even those with severe addictions can flush THC and other toxic chemicals in a pot out of their bodies. It takes some work but finding life beyond weed is possible, preventing some of the harsh side effects.
How Long Does it Take to Detox from Marijuana?
Marijuana has one of the most prolonged half-lives found in drugs. While the effects of weed are only experienced for a few hours after each dose, the byproducts of weed can remain in the system for much longer. THC is stored in the fat, which makes it difficult for the body to flush it out quickly. This means that, as the user starts to burn the fat off through exercise, the drug re-enters the blood instead of burning off entirely. THC, therefore, can circulate in the blood for several weeks as the body attempts to flush it out.
How Long Does THC Remain in the Urine, Blood, and Hair?
Once the THC in marijuana has been processed, its byproducts can be found in the user’s blood, urine, and hair. They can remain there for several weeks or even months. The average time it takes before THC is absent from the body depends on the method used to test.
- Hair: Around three months. Chemicals are usually stored in the hair for much longer than in the blood or urine. Therefore, even casual pot users will show traces of THC in their hair for several weeks. Chronic users can take even longer to detox from marijuana completely.
- Urine: Around two months. The body flushes out many toxins through the digestive system. As it attempts to rid itself of THC, the urine will show traces of marijuana use. The flushing-out period will take several days at the very least. Those who use weed often show signs of the drug in their urine for months.
- Blood: Up to one week. As fat burns off and THC starts to circulate through the bloodstream, the body will begin to filter it through the digestive system. Traces of marijuana will be found mainly in the urine but can show up in the blood for a few days.
Avoiding the Long-Term Side-Effects of Marijuana
Abstaining from it is the best way to avoid marijuana long-term effects. Even those who use the drug casually for an extended period can face serious health consequences. However, suppose you or someone you know uses marijuana habitually. In that case, it may be helpful to start detoxing or seek rehabilitation to avoid the adverse effects that can begin to show over time.
AspenRidge Marijuana Treatment Programs
Have you observed any of the signs of marijuana addiction? It’s never too late to reach out and get help today. Speak to licensed mental health professionals and get effective and tailored support for you in Colorado.
Not sure whether you have the program right for you? Reach out to us at (719) 259-1107. Let’s help you today. Recovery is posible and a fulfilling life starts here.