Woman with head on hands, struggling with long-term effects of marijuana use

What Are the Long Term Effects of Marijuana Use?

In recent decades, the stigma around marijuana use has decreased significantly. In many states across the United States, marijuana is now legal for both medical and recreational use. While there are many therapeutic applications for marijuana, long-term use of this drug is not without risk. Researchers and addiction specialists are becoming much more aware of the effects of long-term marijuana use on mental health. 

There is a popular misconception that marijuana is not addictive. But, extended use carries the risk of a marijuana use disorder, extreme cases of which result in addiction. If you or someone you love has a problem with marijuana use, a marijuana detox center can help. Washburn House offers a compassionate and comprehensive approach to marijuana addiction treatment and recovery. Call Washburn House today at 855.298.3104 to learn more about our programs. Our intake specialists are here for you right now. 

Signs of Marijuana Use

Like many recreational drugs, marijuana produces a “high,” or feelings of euphoria and relaxation. It can alter sensory perception and the perception of time. Additionally, it will often result in laughter and an increased appetite. These effects may seem harmless and even fun. But, they are not the only results marijuana may produce. Other effects of marijuana use can be frightening. If a user is new to the drug or the dose is too high, they may feel a sense of fear, paranoia, or anxiety. As growers cultivate more potent strains of marijuana, the risk of long-term health problems increases. 

Physical Effects of Marijuana Use

Marijuana use can have both short- and long-term physical effects. Immediate reactions to marijuana include problems with coordination and a slower reaction time. These increase risks of injury and automobile accidents. Long-term marijuana use increases the risks of heart attack, stroke, sexual dysfunction, and sexually transmitted diseases. It can also result in chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, or respiratory infections. Finally, extended marijuana use, especially that of newer, more potent strains, can lead to cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS). CHS is characterized by recurring bouts of nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Without management, CHS may lead to kidney failure and electrolyte imbalances. Extreme cases of CHS can be fatal. 

Long-Term Effects of Marijuana Use on Mental Health

The physical risks of marijuana use can be troubling. But, long-term marijuana use can also be harmful to mental health. Some long-term effects of marijuana use are:

  • Alterations in brain development
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Antisocial behaviors
  • Greater risk of psychotic disorders or hallucinations

Effects on Brain Development

Many of the cognitive effects of marijuana use may stem from the actual physical changes marijuana causes in brain development. Younger people are especially vulnerable to the effects of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive component in marijuana. When adolescents use marijuana frequently, THC can reduce the density of neural fibers in certain regions of the brain. This may contribute to cognitive impairment.

Cognitive Impairment

Impaired cognitive function makes it harder to learn complex skills or to complete tasks. This may lead to poor performance in school and can result in students dropping out. Some studies even suggest that long-term marijuana use can significantly decrease IQ.

Depression and Anxiety

Long-term marijuana use may lead to or worsen depression or anxiety. The link between marijuana and these conditions is still being studied. Some research suggests that marijuana use can result in the onset of anxiety or depression; other studies argue that these conditions may be the driving factor for increased marijuana use. In either case, dual diagnosis programs are designed to treat co-occurring disorders, i.e., simultaneous diagnoses of addiction and mental illness. 

Antisocial Behavior

Addiction can take over a person’s life, and marijuana is no different. Someone who is dependent on marijuana may lie about their drug use or steal money to fund their addiction. They may withdraw socially or experience problems in their personal and professional relationships. In extreme cases, marijuana users may enact Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) on their romantic partners.

Psychotic Disorders and Hallucinations

Not everyone who uses marijuana long-term will develop psychiatric disorders. But, studies suggest that certain genetic variations leave some marijuana users predisposed to psychosis, schizophrenia, and hallucinations. For people who live with these disorders, marijuana use can make them worse.

Call Washburn House for Marijuana Addiction Treatment Today

These are just a few of the long-term effects of marijuana use. If you or a loved one is struggling with marijuana use, don’t wait for these signs and symptoms to worsen. Washburn House offers a comprehensive and personalized approach to marijuana addiction treatment. We offer a marijuana detox center, inpatient rehab, and intensive outpatient and day treatment services. Washburn House also features programs to address co-occurring disorders and has a variety of complementary treatment modalities to heal the whole person, including yoga and music therapies. Contact Washburn House today at 855.298.3104 to learn more about these recovery options and more. We’re waiting for your call.

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