Marijuana, often thought of as a ‘gateway drug’, is the most commonly abused illegal mind altering substance. Also known as weed and dagga, marijuana is a dry and shredded mix of leaves and stems from the hemp plane ‘cannabis sativa.’ Marijuana is smoked through a rolled cigarette (known as a ‘joint’) or a ‘bong’ (pipe) and has a pungent, sweet-sour and easily identifiable smell.
The behavioral signs of marijuana abuse:
- Impaired coordination
- Confusion and distorted perceptions
- Difficulty thinking
- Difficulty problem solving
- Memory and learning problems
- Giggling or laughing uncontrollably
Other signs synonymous with marijuana addiction include:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Mucus filled cough
- Hunger/binge eating (this is referred to as the munchies)
- Dry mouth
- Fear and paranoia
- Slow reaction time
The effects of marijuana abuse
The abuse of marijuana can lead to learning, memory and social behavior problems. The users addiction interferes with family relationships, school works and other activities. Marijuana has been proven to have an adverse impact on memory, thus learning becomes a difficult task for the user. Essentially, a person who smoked marijuana everyday is functioning at a severely reduced intellectual level.
Due to the fact that marijuana comes from a plant, many consider it to be harmless – a natural herb. However, long term use of the substance can lead to typical addiction, leaving the user unable to function without the drug. When a person smokes marijuana THC quickly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream. This is what carries the chemical to the brain. THC affects certain parts of the brain known as cannabinoid receptors. This produces cellular reactions, ultimately leading to a high.
The psychological impact of long term marijuana abuse has been known to lead to psychosis, sometimes irreversible. It is imperative we educate ourselves on the severity of the drug.