Lately, it seems that more and more people around the world are claiming that marijuana is not addictive, not harmful and should be legalized. In Amsterdam, Holland, marijuana is legal and there are restaurants with full menus that list a myriad of different types of marijuana or “pot” as it is also known. It has even been looked upon as harmless when compared to alcohol or heavier drugs, such as heroin or cocaine.

For the drug rehab and healthcare community to ignore the fact that marijuana is an illegal substance that can be addictive would be ignorant. There are clear health risks as well as a risk for addiction to this commonly abused substance. It is not benign and definitely not harmless, though many people believe otherwise. “I think people forget that marijuana is a gateway drug,” says Francesca Corbi, Administrative Assistant at Cornerstone Recovery Center. “In my experience, it definitely raised the bar, making it easier for me to move on to more dangerous substances.”

About 9% of people who use marijuana become addicted. Although it is only a small percentage of people who become addicts, we must care for those in our society who need help and drug treatment to become sober. Sobriety can be a reality for anyone determined to overcome his or her addiction.

Marijuana Effects on the Brain: Short Term and Long Term

Many people associate marijuana use with just short-term memory loss. However, there are many more side effects beyond that, both short lived and longer. Short-term risks one takes by smoking marijuana include, but are not limited to:

  • Loss of coordination and reaction time
  • Distortion in the sense of time, vision and hearing
  • Increased appetite
  • Coughing and Wheezing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia

There are longer-term effects that users face as well. Research has shown that long-term marijuana use can negatively affect your:

  • Attention span
  • Memory
  • Learning ability
  • Accuracy
  • Perception

Marijuana also contains the harmful carcinogens found in tobacco, including tar. In fact, people who use marijuana find themselves having withdrawal symptoms, similar to those of nicotine. Just the fact that you can experience withdrawal from marijuana is a sign of its addictiveness. Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Cravings
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability

Consequences of Marijuana Use

In addition to the possibility of addiction, there are other harmful consequences of marijuana use as well. Students using the drug may not be able to make it to their classes, which can result in poor grades and the possibility of failing out of school. Those found with the substance on them or in their possession will have to face the law and can even lead to time in prison.

Help for Marijuana Addiction

While there is a worldwide debate going on as to whether marijuana is harmful or not, we would be remiss in the health service community to ignore the addictive qualities marijuana poses upon users. Luckily, there are alcohol and drug treatment centers to help those who struggle and need treatment. Cornerstone Recovery Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida is one of those havens. Please call us at 888-711-0354 if you or a loved one is seeking treatment for an addiction to marijuana.