How marijuana effects a person depends on a great deal of individual factors. Research has shown that marijuana significantly damages the lungs of a chronic smoker in the same way cigarettes do. Since smoking marijuana involves breathing the smoke deeply and holding the smoke in their lungs, large amounts of tar and carbon monoxide. Studies have shown marijuana smoke contains 50 percent-70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than cigarette smoke. Furthermore, marijuana smoking can lead to cardiovascular damage. After smoking marijuana, the heart rate increases between 20 percent-100 percent which increases the physical effects of marijuana depend on many individual factors such as personal health, the time of day that marijuana is used, the problems it causes, and how well a person is able to control his or her use.
Research studies have shown that one of the primary concerns for those who use marijuana is cardiovascular damage. Marijuana causes damage to lungs that is similar to that caused by cigarettes. For people who inhale deeply or hold the smoke in their lungs longer, the risk can be greater. One study that compared cigarette and marijuana smokers found that marijuana smokers absorbed five times the amount of carbon monoxide, and had five times the tar in their lungs, as compared to cigarette smokers. For those who smoke marijuana and cigarettes, the damage can be exponentially greater than that caused by marijuana or cigarettes alone. At heavy doses, marijuana has been noted to produce irritability, apathy, social isolation, paranoid thinking, lowered motivation, and impaired educational performance, even in people who are not impaired in other ways.
This is a difficult question to answer. Marijuana use has been shown to have a negative effect on school and work performance as well as concentration and memory. Marijuana is not a lethal substance, and people don't overdose on marijuana. However, marijuana can create breathing difficulties and chronic bronchitis. Some people become emotionally dependent upon smoking, and turn to marijuana use to cope with stress and pressures in their life. This can interfere with the development of other coping strategies when faced with stress. People who are using marijuana to cope or who are unable to have fun without using are probably using too much. Some other people who should not smoke at all, include:
- People under the age of 21-smoking interferes with brain development.
- People who plan to drive or do other things that require alertness.
- People taking prescription or over-the-counter medications.
- Women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant.
- People who have heart conditions and asthma
- People who struggle with alcoholism or drug addiction.
An addiction can be defined as needing to find and use the drug, even though the substance use is having a harmful effect on the individuals functioning in life. A person struggling with addiction will have their substance use having a harmful effect on their relationships with their family, schoolwork and leisure activities they do. As their substance use becomes a bigger part of their life, the use more frequent, using in larger amounts. People who are struggling with addiction spend quite a bit of time in their life, locating their drug, using their drug and then recovering from their drug use. Over several years, the person feels like they need to use just to get through the day. If they are unable to get their drugs, they begin to have withdrawal-the process of being mentally and physically sick until their body adjusts to being without drugs.
Long-term marijuana abuse can lead to addiction. Long-term marijuana abusers trying to quit report irritability, sleeplessness, decreased appetite, anxiety, and drug craving, all of which make it difficult to quit. These withdrawal symptoms begin within about 1 day after the user stops smoking and continues for up to 1 or 2 weeks. Many people report cravings are really strong during this time, since they are learning to live without the marijuana.
One of the primary effects of marijuana is its impact on short-term memory. Marijuana impacts the region of the brain that controls your memory center in the brain. Marijuana use negatively impacts decision-making, problem solving and concentration. Research has shown that marijuana's adverse impact on learning and memory can last for days or weeks after the initial effects of the use wear off. This means when people use daily, the individual may be chronically functioning below their intellectual level. Marijuana use has been shown to impair performance on auditory attention tasks; this is due to the significant reduction in blood flow to the temporal lobe of the brain.
It is well documented that marijuana use impairs motor skills on a number of tasks, such as hand steadiness, divided attention and sustained attention. In one interesting study, seasoned airplane pilots showed that even 24 hours following one marijuana cigarette performance on flight simulator tests was impaired. Prior to the test, the pilots were sure that their performance would not be affected. Performance while driving a car under the influence of marijuana (or up to one day later) would similarly be affected. When marijuana use combines with alcohol use, the risk of having a traffic accident doubles.
Research has confirmed that marijuana overdoses and withdrawal does not result in death as with other substances. This has led some people to believe that marijuana is safe. Although marijuana is safer than other drugs, there are harmful effects to be considered. Marijuana smoke contains many of the same components of tobacco smoke, which has been identified as one of the predominant causes of lung diseases such as cancer, emphysema and bronchitis. Marijuana has four times the amount of tar as cigarettes and since marijuana is not smoked with a filter, this tar is readily deposited in the lungs. Since marijuana users typically take deeper inhalations, and hold the smoke in their lungs longer, there is a greater chance of respiratory illness in people who smoke marijuana. Many report symptoms of bronchitis, including chronic cough and difficulty breathing.
People use marijuana for a variety of different reasons. Most people who use develop the belief that smoking is going to do something beneficial for them. These anticipated benefits are known as positive expectations of using, because even before the using episode occurs, the user has convinced themselves that the using will be a positive experience. Several common positive expectations of smoking include:
- Smoking helps me deal with stress and problems in my life
- Smoking is fun and helps me have a good time
- Smoking helps me fit in to a certain group of people
- Smoking helps me socialize better
- Smoking helps me be sexual
- Smoking helps me relax and/or sleep
- Smoking helps me escape the boredom of life
- Smoking helps me deal with depression or painful feelings
- Smoking helps me feel mature
- Smoking helps me perform a physical task better
When teenagers have positive experiences with using marijuana, they tend to remember the positive aspects of using, which increases their tendency to smoke more. Although moderate drinking has some positive aspects, the larger the amount of alcohol consumed, the more likely negative consequences will occur.
In addition to the positive effects of smoking, marijuana users frequently experience negative consequences from their use. They often get the munchies and put on weight. Using creates financial hardships while other users report doing things while they are high they later regret. When people use often, they develop tolerance, which causes them to not enjoy smoking as much as when they first started smoking.
For others, it may mean making the choice to spend money on other things, or time on other activities. Some of the suggestions at the end of this feedback report might be helpful. Each person is different, but when individuals choose to cut down or quit, they commonly report increased energy, improved breathing, and more time for other activities such as schoolwork or sports.
The safest strategy for a teenager is to not smoke marijuana. For those who decide to quit, each solution to recovery is different. If you have made the decision to stop, it may be helpful to avoid friends and situations that have led you to using in the past. Many people have found it helpful to spend money on other activities or items that make being clean fun and rewarding.
For people who make the decision to smoke despite the associated risk factors, there are several strategies to smoke safer:
- Set a limit on the amount of marijuana you use
- Set a limit on the number of days you use marijuana
- Keep a record of your marijuana use
- Track how much you are spending on marijuana
- Don't buy marijuana
- Avoid places you associate with marijuana
- Get rid of paraphernalia
- Be ready to say no if you are offered marijuana
- Spend time with friends who don't use marijuana
- Create a list of things you can do when you are bored of feeling other emotions that trigger using