Living Life After the Last Dance with Mary Jane
Despite the fact that almost everywhere I go, I can smell marijuana, cannabis is still an illegal drug under U.S. federal law, and the evolving legal status of marijuana is a subject of ongoing controversy in the United States and around the world. Many people seem to not even consider marijuana a drug anymore and I often hear the argument: “It’s natural. It comes from the earth, how can it be harmful?”
Many harmful things can come from the earth and not be good for us. Drugs such as heroin and cocaine, come from the earth as well, and I don’t hear too many people arguing for them to be legal.
While I am certainly not going to argue that smoking some reefer is going to destroy your life, I do want to take a look at some of the negative effects marijuana can have on many people, as well as some of the benefits of quitting weed.
Keep reading to get more information and stick around to get help with marijuana use disorder treatment options at South Shores if your story sounds like mine.
The Build Up: How I Got Into Heavy Daily Use
For many years, I was the classic stoner. I smoked marijuana from the time I got up in the morning til the time I went to bed at night. Frequent cannabis use helped make me lazy and also caused me to gain weight. Now it’s been almost three years since I stopped smoking weed and I can honestly tell you I feel much more motivated, happy, and healthy.
Although most of my friends still partake from time to time, I can easily say it was a good decision for me to stop smoking weed and have not looked back since quitting.
My goal is not to demonize marijuana but merely to show you some of the negative effects it may have on some people and maybe give you something to consider if you use weed. I also will not tell you that you need to go to rehab to quit weed, but I did go to rehab to quit all mind-altering substances, including marijuana, and am happy that I did. I will mention some of the benefits of quitting marijuana and hopefully, if nothing else, get you to consider quitting weed.
Plus, you’ll get proven treatment options at South Shores Detox and Recovery to offer support for yourself or a loved one if weed has become a problem and to help avoid marijuana withdrawal if you decide you do want to quit smoking weed.
Is Marijuana Addiction Really a Thing?
So while some hardcore drug addicts may laugh at the idea of marijuana addiction, the medical community is now starting to recognize it as a very real condition. Although people generally are not pawning everything they own or turning tricks on the streets to get their weed, it is slowly becoming that legalized marijuana is a more real and serious substance abuse issue.
Marijuana addiction, clinically known as cannabis use disorder, is a condition mainly known by the excessive and compulsive use of marijuana despite negative consequences. It is absolutely considered a substance use disorder and can lead to physical, psychological, and social problems.
Many people who are addicted to marijuana, just like other drugs, often find it difficult to control their use or quit marijuana, prioritizing using the drug over other responsibilities and may experience withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit.
Do Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms Happen?
Many people think the benefits of quitting weed are insignificant, and that marijuana withdrawal is a joke since you do not experience the same withdrawal symptoms as you might with other drugs. If you have ever experienced alcohol, benzo, or opiate withdrawal, marijuana withdrawal may seem much less horrendous.
Some common weed withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Irritability: Feelings of frustration and agitation are very common during withdrawal.
- Insomnia: Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep can be very common.
- Loss of Appetite: A decrease in appetite and weight loss are common experiences during withdrawal.
- Mood Change: Mood swings, anxiety, and depression are common withdrawal symptoms.
- Cravings: Strong urges to smoke weed or use marijuana again.
- Restlessness: A general feeling of being restless or unable to relax.
- Physical Discomfort: Headaches, stomach pain, and sweating are reported by some individuals.
- Vivid Dreams: Some people experience unusually vivid dreams or nightmares during withdrawals.
However, marijuana withdrawal can differ from person to person, and not everyone who quits marijuana will experience all of these symptoms.
My Top 7 Benefits of Quitting Weed
As we finally start to learn more about the long-term effects marijuana can have on us, studies seem to come up with more and more reasons why it may be a good idea to quit smoking weed now.
Although weed has been decriminalized in many states at this point, it doesn’t mean we should just abuse it, as we are learning more and more reasons why it may not be the best idea to model our lives after Cheech and Chong.
Another thing to keep in mind in regards to marijuana use is how much stronger weed is today than in the past. The amount of THC found in today’s marijuana has steadily climbed to about 3 times as compared to 25 years ago. Snoop Dogg’s weed is a lot different than what Cheech and Chong were smoking
1) Improved Respiratory Health
Smoking weed can damage your lungs and lead to chronic bronchitis and other respiratory problems. Quitting can improve your lung function and decrease the risk of other respiratory and cardiovascular problems. Even moderate levels of cannabis smoking are associated with proximal airway inflammation and symptoms of bronchitis.
Dr. Giselle Revah, an assistant professor in the Department of Radiation at the University of Ontario found in a study: “Marijuana smokers had more emphysema and disease that causes difficulty breathing than heavy tobacco smokers and nonsmokers.”
A Bit More from the Experts on Lungs
Doctors say there are several reasons why smoking marijuana might cause more damage than tobacco.
“Marijuana smokers breathe in more deeply, and they hold their breath longer before they exhale. You combine the irritating effects of longer exposure and deeper inhalation of these toxins,” Dr. Albert Rizzo, a lung doctor and chief medical officer of the American Lung Association says.
Not only that but unlike tobacco smoke, marijuana smoke is often unfiltered. One joint is roughly the equivalent of 2.5 to 5 cigarettes when looking at the damage it causes to our lungs.
Researchers from Ottowa Hospital General in Canada compared 150 sets of lungs from weed smokers, tobacco smokers, and non-smokers. The study found that the rates of higher risk of emphysema, airway inflammation, and enlarged breast tissues were highest in marijuana smokers. Quitting smoking weed can lead to better respiratory and cardiovascular health.
2) Improved Physical Fitness and Cardiovascular Health
Not only that, but if you’ve ever smoked weed, I am sure you are familiar with “the munchies”, or a craving to eat high-calorie, salty, sweet, and fatty foods. After getting stoned, junk food seems to taste so much better. Twinkies, Ice Cream, Bacon Sandwiches; everything tastes so much better when we are stoned. That’s because THC can make food taste better and trick our brains into thinking we are hungry, even if we’ve just recently eaten.
The active ingredients in weed bind to certain receptors on our tongues, enhancing the way the brain responds to sweeter foods. In fact, marijuana is so good at getting us to eat, that it is often prescribed for people living with certain medical conditions, like HIV, and people going through chemotherapy, to help them with their decreased appetites.
It follows that many people will gain weight when they are smoking weed every day. Combined with the decreased motivation to turn off Rick and Morty and get off the couch, marijuana can be detrimental to living a healthy lifestyle and be a threat to your overall physical health.
3) Better Memory and Cognitive Functions
If you’ve smoked enough weed in your life, you probably already know that marijuana can lead to short-term memory loss. Long-term weed usage can impair memory, attention, and learning abilities. Quitting can help improve cognitive function and memory recall. Researchers found that four weeks without cannabis consumption led to “moderate but reliable” improvements in users’ memory test scores.
“We can strongly say that regular users will learn better when they abstain, and continuing to use the drug is likely to negatively impact the learning process”, advises Randy Schuster at Mass General Hospital’s Center for Addiction Medicine in Boston.
A study done at Duke University showed people who started using marijuana in their teens lost an average of 8 points off their IQs between the ages of 13 and 38. If you’ve smoked enough weed in your life, you probably already know that marijuana can lead to short-term memory loss. Oh wait, did I already say that?
4) Saving Money
The most obvious benefit of not smoking weed is related to our finances. Marijuana smokers can spend hundreds of dollars a month to legally obtain a medical marijuana card, paying a physician fee which can be anywhere from $50 up to over $200, plus paying the state for licensing which can range from $25 to over $100, not to mention they have to renew their licenses every year.
On top of that, the US average for an ounce of weed was $320.06 in 2020 and going as high as $590.27 in Washington D.C. I’m sure all of us wouldn’t mind having an extra couple hundred dollars in our bank accounts.
5) Increased Motivation and Productivity
Another good reason to quit smoking cannabis, in the form of a marijuana use disorder, is it can often lead to a lack of motivation and decreased productivity. Quitting can help you regain focus and energy, leading to a more productive life. Chronic marijuana users tend to produce less dopamine, a chemical in the brain linked to motivation.
Research has documented that college students who frequently partake in the wacky tobaccy reported less physical and mental energy, compromised productivity, an increased risk of procrastination, and greater school and work absences.
6) Better Mental Health
Marijuana has been also linked to mental health issues. The National Institute of Health found a distinct relationship between reductions in cannabis use and improvements in anxiety, depression, and sleep quality. Using cannabis can also increase the risk of developing psychotic illnesses, including schizophrenia. There is a lot of reliable evidence linking the use of cannabis and psychotic illnesses. Marijuana has been thought to cause problems with interpersonal relationships.
The CDC has also found a link between the consumption of weed and temporary psychosis (not knowing what is real, hallucinations, and paranoia) as well as longer-lasting mental disorders like depression, social anxiety, thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts, and suicide.
Quitting smoking weed may lessen mood swings as well as help improve your overall health and mental health. People who smoke weed also report having more social anxiety. A lot of people may experience more stable and positive emotions after quitting marijuana.
7) Shatter Your Illusions About Drugs in General
So it has long been debated whether marijuana use leads to harder drugs and drug abuse. Studies conducted on animals show that early exposure to addictive substances, including THC, may change how the body responds to other drugs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that exposing rats to cannabinoids decreased the reactivity of brain dopamine reward centers as they got older.
Basically, the brain rewires itself for enhanced responses to other drugs. I can tell you how it worked as a gateway drug for me. Growing up during the years of D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) in the 80s, educators tried to scare me away from drugs. Learning that drugs make people bad and crazy, I stayed away until my late teens.
Making Up Your Own Mind About Weed and Drugs in General
However, smoking weed for the first time and realizing it was nothing like what I was taught, opened me up to the possibility that it was all a lie and that drugs were not going to destroy my life and make me go crazy and jump out of a window.
While this was a great realization for me, the same sort of thing happened when I quit. Despite people saying it was natural and harmless, I found for me that was not the case, and hadn’t been for a long time.
Should You Try Quitting Marijuana Too?
If any of the following symptoms sound like you, then you may be suffering from marijuana use disorder:
- Have cravings to use weed even when you shouldn’t.
- Trying to quit marijuana and failing.
- Spend a lot of time and/or money using weed.
- Use more marijuana than you had intended.
- Miss out on friends and family and/or events.
- Continued illegal drug use despite negative consequences.
- Drive after using weed, or put yourself in other high-risk situations.
Keep in mind these aren’t hard and fast ‘rules’ for when you might want to seek help, but rather warning signs that you might want to take a closer look at your cannabis intake, and get support to stop if that feels like the right choice.
Getting Support for Cannabis Use at South Shores
If you or someone you know are struggling with marijuana dependence, please don’t think it’s not a big deal. Reliance on any substance can cause long and short-term serious problems, and addiction treatment can help, even if “it’s only weed”. If you are considering quitting marijuana, and want to do it in a healthy and safe way, you should seek professional help.
South Shores Detox and Recovery can help. Especially if you are experiencing any withdrawal symptoms, remember you don’t have to do this by yourself. For more information, contact a member of our admissions team today, to help you get on the drug-free path.
Don’t do it alone, we want to help you live a marijuana-free, healthy, and happy life. Reach out for our confidential support today!