Facts About Marijuana Abuse
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Marijuana Abuse FactsMarijuana Abuse Facts

Marijuana Abuse Facts: General Info

  • Marijuana is the most commonly abused illicit drug in the United States.
  • Marijuana abuse facts show that this drug consists of a dry, shredded green and brown mix of flowers, stems, seeds, and leaves derived from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa.
  • The active chemical in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol; THC for short.
  • Marijuana smoke has a pungent and distinctive, usually sweet-and-sour odor.

Marijuana Abuse Facts: How Marijuana is Abused

  • Marijuana is usually smoked as a cigarette (joint) or in a pipe. It is also smoked in blunts, which are cigars that have been emptied of tobacco and refilled with marijuana. Marijuana abuse facts report that since the blunt retains the tobacco leaf used to wrap the cigar, this mode of delivery combines marijuana's active ingredients with nicotine and other harmful chemicals.
  • Marijuana can also be mixed in food or be brewed as a tea. A more concentrated, resinous form is called hashish which is in the form of a sticky black liquid.

Marijuana Abuse Facts: How Marijuana Works in the Body

  • 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 bloodstream, which carries the chemical to the brain and other organs throughout the body.
  • THC acts upon specific sites in the brain, called cannabinoid receptors, kicking off a series of cellular reactions that ultimately lead to the high that users experience when they smoke marijuana.
  • Marijuana abuse facts have shown that some specific areas in the brain have many cannabinoid receptors (the area of the brain affected by marijuana use) while others have few or none. The highest density of cannabinoid receptors are found in parts of the brain that influence pleasure, memory, thoughts, concentration, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement.
  • Not surprisingly, marijuana abuse facts have found that intoxication from this drug can cause distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, difficulty in thinking and problem solving, and problems with learning and memory.
  • Research has shown that marijuanas adverse impact on learning and memory can last for days or weeks after the acute effects of the drug wear off. As a result, someone who smokes marijuana every day may be functioning at a suboptimal intellectual level all of the time.

Marijuana Abuse Facts: Hazards of Marijuana Use

  • Research on the long-term effects of marijuana abuse indicates some changes in the brain similar to those seen after long-term abuse of other major drugs. For example, cannabinoid withdrawal in chronically exposed animals leads to an increase in the activation of the stress-response system and changes in the activity of nerve cells containing dopamine. Dopamine neurons are involved in the regulation of motivation and reward, and are directly or indirectly affected by all drugs of abuse.
  • Long-term marijuana abuse can lead to addiction. Addiction consists of compulsive drug seeking and abuse despite its known harmful effects upon social functioning in the context of family, school, work, and recreational activities.
  • Marijuana abuse facts report that long-term marijuana abusers trying to quit report irritability, sleeplessness, decreased appetite, anxiety, and drug craving, all of which make it difficult to quit. These withdrawal symptoms begin within about 1 day following abstinence, peak at 2 or 3 days, and subside within 1 or 2 weeks following drug cessation.
  • A number of studies have shown an association between chronic marijuana use and increased rates of anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and schizophrenia. Some of these studies have shown age at first use to be a factor, where early use is a marker of vulnerability to later problems.
  • At this time, it not clear whether marijuana use causes mental problems, exacerbates them, or is used in attempt to self-medicate symptoms already in existence.
  • Marijuana abuse facts note, use of this drug increases the users heart rate by 20-100 percent shortly after smoking; this effect can last up to 3 hours.
  • In one study, it was estimated that marijuana users have a 4.8-fold increase in the risk of heart attack in the first hour after smoking the drug. This may be due to the increased heart rate as well as effects of marijuana on heart rhythms, causing palpitations and arrhythmias. This risk may be greater in aging populations or those with cardiac vulnerabilities.

Facts About Marijuana Abuse
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