Attitudes against marijuana use in the United States vary widely, from those who purport to use the drug for religious reasons, to those who would see it legalized, to those who abuse it regardless of the legal ramifications. The debate is ongoing despite the recent legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington State. The one aspect of the marijuana debate not generally discussed in these legal matches, however, is the damage that smoking marijuana has on the physical body.
According to a report from Frontline®, marijuana has many detrimental health effects. The obvious effect, considering that marijuana is primarily a smoked drug, is the risk of developing lung cancer. Marijuana contains benzopyrene, a substance also found in tobacco cigarettes. This chemical has been shown to cause cancer, according to a fact sheet released by the state government of New Jersey. This may lead one to think that smoking marijuana is better than smoking regular, tobacco cigarettes, since most of those who engage in marijuana use smoke less than an individual with a pack-a-day cigarette habit. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Those who engage in the abuse of marijuana should be aware that the risks are far more severe for cancer in marijuana than tobacco – five times greater, in fact. In practical terms, smoking one marijuana cigarette – known on the streets as a “joint” – is the same as smoking five regular tobacco cigarettes.
Lung cancer is not the only respiratory risk associated with smoking marijuana. Also according to PBS, smoking marijuana can cause:
- Chronic bronchitis
- Inflamed sinuses
- Chronic cough
- Greater chances of lung infection
Smoking Marijuana Increases Risk of Heart Attack
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, individuals who smoke marijuana have nearly five times the risk of heart attack in the first hour after ingestion than someone who has not smoked marijuana. When someone inhales the drug, including the THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) chemical that is responsible for the “high” feeling, their heart rate can increase to a dangerous and unhealthy level, as much as double the rate as before inhaling the drug.
Ingesting Marijuana Without Smoking
Not all marijuana abusers inhale the smoke to obtain the euphoric effects. These individuals may believe that, since they are not smoking harmful chemicals, such as benzopyrene, they are in a better position from a health perspective. However the Bureau of Customs in the Philippine Islands placed alerts on several brands of noodles imported from Korea to markets around the world, simply because they may have contained this harmful chemical.
In addition to the increased cancer risk, of course, there are problems that are unrelated to respiratory difficulty that all users of marijuana share equally. For instance, marijuana acts on the brain in a way that can slow the perception of time, movement and coordination, and cognitive reasoning. When this happens, the individual places their body – and everyone else’s — at risk for accidents due to impaired driving or the operation of machinery or equipment. Even household appliances can become dangerous in the hands of someone who is under the influence of marijuana.
Drug Abuse Treatment for Marijuana
While there is some debate on whether marijuana is addictive, the experts at the National Institute on Drug Abuse have reviewed the research, looked at the evidentiary information and the definitions of what constitutes a diagnosis for substance abuse and dependence. They have stated, emphatically, that despite popular opinion, marijuana is decidedly addictive. According to their research, as many as 50 percent of daily marijuana smokers are, by definition, addicted to the substance.
If you or someone you know may be suffering from addiction to marijuana, ask yourself these questions. They may indicate there is a larger problem than you may have thought.
- Do you/they spend a great deal of time obtaining and smoking/ingesting marijuana?
- Do you/they tend to use all of the marijuana on hand, without being able to limit usage?
- Do you/they continue to abuse marijuana even though it is costing personal relationships?
- Do you/they continue to abuse marijuana even though the authorities have become involved and serious legal ramifications are pending?
- Do you/they often fight with family and loved ones about the marijuana abuse?
In order for some individuals to stop using marijuana because of the detrimental effect it has on their health and their potential for quality of life, they will need to seek the help of a professional treatment program. With the guidance and counseling of the trained providers at Axis, someone who has spent a lifetime lost in the haze of marijuana abuse can find the self-empowerment they need to begin recovery. Call us today.