Marijuana is the most consumed illegal substance on the planet. According to data from the industry, hashish, as it is called, is smoked by around 183 million people around the world.
Some may find this fact disheartening, and even more so if one takes into account that the average age of onset is only 15 years.
Consuming this substance so early can have irreversible consequences. A recent study from King’s College London, Duke University (United States), and the University of Otago (New Zealand) has concluded that smoking joints in adolescence affects brain development and impairs long-term intellectual abilities.
In both young people and adults, most of the damage induced by cannabis is associated with the brain; however, it is not the only region of our body that suffers its adverse effects.
The remainder of this article will highlight the general disadvantages of cannabis consumption and the signs that suggest marijuana abuse or disorder.
The Risks and Negative Consequences of Marijuana Consumption
Habitual consumption provokes a series of organic and psychological damages:
- The fact of smoking without a filter, deeply inhaling the smoke, holding it in the lungs and rushing it to the end, favors diseases such as chronic bronchitis, pulmonary emphysema, or lung cancer (the deadliest cancer in the US). In addition, its bronchodilator effect enhances the absorption of toxic substances.
- It alters the cardio-circulatory system, causing tachycardia, so people with hypertension or heart failure may suffer worsening of their symptoms.
- There are data that indicate that there could be an increase in the incidence of depression and psychosis due to the chronic use of this substance.
- The psychological impact of cannabis use has special relevance, given that those who use it are mainly young people. It causes difficulties to study by diminishing attention, concentration, abstraction, and memory, thus hindering learning. Marijuana can cause acute reactions of anxiety and, in people with a predisposition to suffer from mental disorders, it can cause the appearance of these disorders or aggravate those already suffering.
- More and more data are showing the harmful effect of cannabis use associated with driving, especially if combined with alcohol, which increases the risk of accidents.
- Marijuana use can lead to several types of mental disorders, including psychotic disorders. Its consumption increases more than five times the risk of suffering psychosis throughout life. The sooner you start to consume marijuana and the more frequent the consumption, the greater the risk.
- Cannabis acts on the brain reward system in the same way that other drugs do, by stimulating the release of dopamine. The continued use of cannabis does not trigger addiction, but it may lead to a cannabis use disorder, or make the consumers more susceptible to heroin addiction. It appears between 7 and 10% of the people who have tried it and in 1 of every 3 of those who consume it habitually.
Symptoms of Marijuana Abuse or Disorder
There are some symptoms that may suggest the existence of a disorder. These include:
- Abandonment of the group of non-consumer friends.
- Disinterest in activities that do not have a direct relationship with consumption. Concern about having cannabis.
- Compulsive use of cannabis.
- Problems with school or work performance.
- Irritability, aggression, restlessness, nervousness, decreased appetite, and sleeping difficulties.
While marijuana in its medical form is beneficial in the treatment of several diseases ailing the human being, the consequences of its use as a recreational pharmaceutical are damning.
In summary, here are the general disadvantages or negative consequences of the consumption of marijuana:
- Memory and learning problems.
- Worst academic results.
- Premature abandonment of studies.
- Marijuana use disorder (7-10% of those who try it).
- Emotional disorders (anxiety, depression) and personality change.
- Broncho-pulmonary diseases and certain types of cancer.
- Heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmias).
- Psychosis and schizophrenia (especially in predisposed individuals).
We live in a free world, hence as long as it is legal, adults have a chance to decide whether or not the benefits of marijuana consumption outweigh the disadvantages involved.
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