Weed, pot, dope, and marijuana are all different names for the same drug that comes from the cannabis plant. Weed can be consumed in many forms. It can be smoked; you can vape it, eat it, or drink it. Most people consume weed for pleasure or recreation; however, a growing number of medical professionals are prescribing medical marijuana for specific conditions and symptoms. Weed or marijuana tends to have a reputation as a relatively harmless drug. Therefore in recent years, there has been a push to legalize its use throughout the United States. At the same time, researchers are beginning to learn more and more about the effects that weed has on both the brain and the body.
Depending on how it’s taken, prepared, or consumed weed will have different effects on the body. For instance, when you inhale marijuana smoke into your lungs, it is quickly released into your bloodstream, making its way to your brain and other organs. On the other hand, when you eat or drink marijuana, it takes longer for your body to feel the effects. For the most part, the impact of weed on the body is often immediate. The longevity of the impact or impairment may depend on how long you take it, how much you use, and how often you use it. The exact effects on the mind and body are hard to determine or verify because marijuana has been illegal in the United States, making studies difficult at best to conduct.
As noted above, in recent years, marijuana’s medicinal properties have begun to gain public acceptance. As of 2017, 29 states in the United States plus the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana to some extent. Also, some of those 29 states have legalized recreational marijuana as well. THC add another ingredient called cannabidiol or CBD are the main substances of therapeutic interest recently the National Institutes of Health funded research into the possible medicinal uses of THC and CBD. To date, this research remains ongoing.
Given the potential for increased medicinal or recreational use, it would seem beneficial to understand the effects that weed can have on your body and mind. Below we have discussed some of the various impacts weed can have on the systems within your body. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and how weed affects one individual will be different from how it affects another. Despite its perceived safety, chronic use of pot can have long term and potentially dangerous effects on the human body. If your use of weed has begun to affect your physical or your mental health, it may be time to consider treatment through a substance abuse treatment program at the Hills in Los Angeles, CA. With individually designed treatment programs based on Your personal needs, your chances for success, recovery, and long-term sobriety are vastly improved.
Effects of Weed on the Body and Mind
The effects of smoking weed often go far beyond merely “getting high.” ongoing or excessive use of weed can impact virtually every system in your body. Below is a brief list of some of the physical effects of smoking weed or ingesting marijuana can have on your body.
- Respiratory system: Like tobacco smoke, marijuana smoke is made up of a variety of toxic chemicals. These can include ammonia and hydrogen cyanide, both of which can irritate your lungs and bronchial passages. If you smoke weed regularly, you are more likely to cough, wheeze, and produce excessive phlegm. You are also at an increased risk for bronchitis and frequent lung infections. Also, smoking weed may aggravate pre-existing respiratory illnesses such as asthma and cystic fibrosis. Marijuana smoke also contains carcinogens so that it may increase your risk of lung cancer as well; however, studies on this subject have produced mixed results currently, there is no conclusive evidence that marijuana smoke causes lung cancer; however there is evidence that its use puts you at increased risk.
- Circulatory system: once in your system, THC moves from your lungs into your bloodstream and throughout your body. Within a short time (minutes in most cases), your heart rate may increase by 20 to 50 beats per minute. This elevated heart rate can continue for up to three hours. If you have a pre-existing heart condition or heart disease, this can increase your risk of a heart attack. The use of marijuana or weed can also cause the blood vessels in your eyes to expand. This results in the visual effect of bloodshot eyes. Although more research is needed, there may be some positive effects of marijuana use on the circulatory system. Some research has shown that THC can lower the pressure in the eyes, which can ease glaucoma symptoms for a brief period. Additional research is needed to determine whether the active ingredients in marijuana may be a proper treatment for glaucoma. Also, marijuana may help slow or stop the growth of blood vessels that feed cancerous tumors. Again, significantly more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of marijuana as a cancer treatment Outside of its current use in pain and chemotherapy side effect mitigation.
Central nervous system: the effects of smoking weed extend throughout the central nervous system, including effects on the brain and spinal cord. Although marijuana is thought to ease pain and inflammation and help control spasms and seizures, there are still some long-term adverse effects that require consideration. THC, one of the active ingredients in weed, triggers your brain to release large amounts of dopamine. Dopamine is a naturally occurring “feel good “chemical in the human body. Dopamine is what gives you the feeling of being high when you smoke weed. The release of excess dopamine may heighten your sensory perception and your perception of time. THC can also change the way the hippocampus processes information, so your judgment may be impaired. The hippocampus is responsible for memory functions, so it may be challenging to form new memories when you’re high. People younger than age 25, whose brains have not yet fully developed marijuana can have a lasting impact on thinking and memory processes
Smoking weed also results in changes in the cerebellum and basal ganglia. These are areas of the brain that play roles in movement and balance. While you are high, your balance, coordination, and reflex responses are likely to be off.
Excessive doses of marijuana or high concentrations of THC can result in hallucinations or delusions. Some research has shown there may be A link between Smoking weed and some mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety. Again, more research is needed into these correlations; however, it is suggested that you avoid smoking weed if you have schizophrenia as it may exacerbate your symptoms.
- Digestive system: when taken orally, weed can cause digestive issues. For example, oral THC can cause nausea and vomiting due to how your liver processes the chemicals. It can also cause permanent liver damage. On the other hand, marijuana has been used in the medical field to ease symptoms of nausea or upset stomach often related to chemotherapy.
- Immune system: THC may harm your immune system. While research is still in its infancy, some studies have shown that THC may damage the immune system making the user more vulnerable to illnesses.
- Mental health: previously, we mentioned that the chronic use of weed could increase one’s chances of developing anxiety or depression. Also, the use of marijuana can leave someone feeling anxious, afraid, or panicked. Not everybody’s experience with weed results in a “happy high.” Currently, there are no definitive explanations as to why smoking weed can result in paranoia for some and not others. Still, multiple studies have linked chronic marijuana use with a higher risk of psychosis. These same studies have shown that people who smoked or ingested weed frequently were more likely to be diagnosed with a psychotic mental health condition, such as schizophrenia, than people who had never used marijuana.
The debate around weed and whether or not it is safer than other drugs remains ongoing. As more and more states legalize marijuana use for medical or even recreational purposes, the ability to study how weed impacts the body and brain Will likely increase. In previous years, the ability to determine the exact consequences of chronic weed use on the human body has been difficult as users were reluctant to come forward due to the illegality of marijuana use. Today in many states, weed is no longer illegal, and therefore the ability to research how the substance works and what long term consequences of use could be should become easier.
Despite the challenges associated with research, there is substantial evidence that long-term marijuana use has detrimental effects on the human body and the brain. Additionally, long term excessive use of weed can result in the development of or exacerbate ocean of various mental health conditions.
Despite medical providers prescribing marijuana (or weed) for use in pain medication or symptom relief, the risks of chronic use remain. One of the risks not mentioned above is addiction. Yes, you can become addicted to weed, making the possibility of adverse side effects and new or exacerbated mental health conditions all the more likely. If you have found your use of weed has gotten out of control or you are concerned about the potential for long term effects, contact The Hills today. The ability to quickly and successfully give up weed without treatment will depend significantly on the length of time you have been using, the amount you typically use, and the strength of what you use. More prolonged use or more excessive use generally makes quitting without treatment very Difficult. At The Hills in Los Angeles, CA, we create a substance abuse treatment plan designed specifically for your needs. These plans are designed to consider your history of substance use and abuse and any pre-existing or coexisting medical or mental health conditions you may struggle with. If you are ready to quit weed but are unsure where or how to start, contact The Hills today.