Got Questions About Weed?
Marijuana was once regarded as a highly dangerous substance that was taboo in most social circles. Today, marijuana use is widely accepted worldwide. According to statistics reported by the United Nations, an estimated 160 million people across the globe use marijuana regularly, making it the second most commonly used addictive substance behind alcohol.
With the legalization of marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes across the United States, there is a lot of misinformation swirling around out there about the drug. This has left many with more questions than answers.
In this article, we will answer nine of the most commonly asked questions about marijuana – also know by its slang names: cannabis, bud, weed, pot, green, Mary Jane, ganja, smoke, dope, hash, and reefer.
#1 Is Marijuana Addictive?
Most people consider marijuana to be a relatively safe drug with a low potential for addiction. And, in all honesty, it is – when you compare it to drugs like cocaine, heroin, prescription opioids, and methamphetamines. However; it is important to recognize that marijuana is addictive, and it delivers its own special brand of negative consequences.
Here are some statistics provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) that may help explain the addictive nature of marijuana:
- Marijuana use can lead to the development of problem use, known as a Marijuana Use Disorder, which takes the form of marijuana addiction in severe cases.
- Marijuana Use Disorder becomes addiction when the person cannot stop using the drug even though it interferes with many aspects of his or her life.
- Recent data suggests that thirty percent of those who use marijuana may have some degree of Marijuana Use Disorder.
- Nine percent of people who use marijuana will become dependent on it, rising to about seventeen percent in those who start using in their teens.
- In 2015, about four million people in the United States met the diagnostic criteria for a Marijuana Use Disorder.
- In 2015, approximately 138,000 voluntarily sought treatment for their marijuana use.
The reason why marijuana is considered addictive is because Marijuana Use Disorder is often associated with dependence and causes withdrawal symptoms when someone suddenly stops taking the drug. While marijuana may not produce a life-threatening physical addiction like many other drugs, it is definitely results in psychological addiction.
# 2 Is Weed Ever Dangerous or Deadly?
There is currently no data that suggests that marijuana can result in a deadly overdose. However; the drug does result in quite a few dangerous (and potentially deadly) health conditions. Here are just a few common health problems associated with chronic pot-smoking:
Increased Risk of Heart Attack: As reported by ABC News, “a new study from Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School says marijuana increases the risk of having a heart attack within the first hour of smoking to five times that of non-smokers.”
Hypertension: Hypertension is a fancy word for high blood pressure. According to a published study in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology, marijuana use may increase the risk for death caused by hypertension.
Obesity: Because marijuana stimulates hunger and causes users to participate in binge-eating episodes, those who use the drug regularly are at a greater risk for extreme weight gain.
Psychological Problems: Marijuana causes users to feel as if they are in an alternate reality. While many use the drug for this specific purpose and enjoy such an experience, others may find that the trip isn’t so pleasant. Chronic use of marijuana can lead to paranoia, anxiety disorders, and even psychosis.
# 3 Can Smoking Pot Damage My Lungs or Cause Cancer?
While scientists are currently conducting research to determine if marijuana can cause cancer (especially lung cancer), there is no question that smoking weed is unhealthy for the lungs and respiratory system. Inhaling smoke of any kind breaks down lung tissue and can weaken the immune system.
According to the American Lung Association, “Smoking marijuana clearly damages the human lung. Research shows that smoking marijuana causes chronic bronchitis and marijuana smoke has been shown to injure the cell linings of the large airways, which could explain why smoking marijuana leads to symptoms such as chronic cough, phlegm production, wheeze and acute bronchitis.”
If you want to protect your lungs and maintain healthy breathing, it is best not to inhale the smoke from marijuana. Due to the risks it poses to lung health, the American Lung Association strongly cautions the public against smoking marijuana.
# 4 How Long Does Cannabis Stay In Your System?
When it comes to using marijuana, many people want to know how long it takes the drug to get out of the body’s system – more specifically, how long it will take to pass a drug test for an employer or a parole or probation officer. This is not an exact science. How much you have used, your body weight, your overall general health, and your body’s ability to metabolize marijuana have everything to do with how long it takes the drug to leave your system.
Most drugs leave the body relatively quickly because they are water-soluble, which means they dissolve and are eliminated with water. Not so with weed. Marijuana is fat-soluble – it dissolves in the body’s fat cells and is eliminated when the body uses the fat for energy or flushes it out through its own biochemical process. The more weight you carry on your body, the longer it will take weed to become undetectable.
Here are some general guidelines for determining how long marijuana stays in your system:
- Urine – Most employers or parole and probation officers use urine tests to check for weed. While people think that two to four weeks is a good rule of thumb when it comes to how long a urine test can check for the presence of marijuana, this is not always true. For someone who is very overweight, it can take up to three months for marijuana to become undetectable. So, when it comes to a urine test, marijuana can show up from two to twelve weeks, depending on your weight and how much you have used.
- Blood – Someone may be administered a blood test by a law enforcement officer if they are suspected of using marijuana and driving. Also, employers often administer blood tests when there is an accident at work. Generally, weed shows up on a blood test one to seven days after the last use.
- Hair – Hair tests are often used in custody cases where children are involved. Potential employers hiring for jobs that require a security clearance also use hair tests. When administering a drug test using hair, the testing agency will check 1.5 inches of hair cut from the root. The non-root end is discarded. This allows drug testers to determine if marijuana has been used in the past six to twelve months. That means, if you have been using weed on a regular basis, you might have to wait at least a full year to pass a hair test.
- Saliva – If anyone wants to know if you have recently used marijuana, this is the way to do it. Weed stays in saliva for twenty-four to seventy-two hours. If you pop positive for a saliva test, whoever is administering the test will know you have been under the influence of weed in the past few days.
# 5 If I Get Too High, Is There a Quick Way To Sober Up?
The high from marijuana typically peaks about thirty minutes after the drug is used and generally lasts about three to six hours. Unfortunately, there is no way to quickly sober up from the drug. You simply have to ride out the high and let time do its thing.
We wish there were some kind of sober-up-quick drink (many say that coffee can do the trick, but this is a myth) or stop-being-high remedy (like taking a cold shower – another myth) that would ease the symptoms of being stoned, but no such solution exists. Once you get high from marijuana, you are committed to its intoxicating effects until the drug wears off.
# 6 How Do I Know If I Am Abusing Weed?
When it comes to marijuana, there is a fine line between using it recreationally, developing Marijuana Use Disorder, or experiencing a full-blown addiction. This is because, generally, most people minimize their marijuana use. They figure, “Hey, it’s not like it’s heroin. What’s the big deal?” This attitude can keep someone in a fog of smoke, puffing their life away for years – completely unaware that they are dependent on marijuana.
Here are some telltale signs that you may be abusing weed:
- You think you have a problem with your drug use. If you think it’s a problem, it is. People who don’t have a problem with marijuana don’t sit around wondering if they do.
- You smoke pot every day. If you use pot every single day of your life, you definitely should be concerned.
- You spend a considerable amount of money on weed. Marijuana can be an expensive habit. If you are dedicating a lot of your hard-earned money to get high, your drug use is probably out of control.
- You get high before work or school. This is a strong indicator that you aren’t controlling your pot use – it’s controlling you.
- When you are not able to use weed, you obsess about the next time you can use it. Obsession with drugs is a clear indicator that there is a problem.
- You use more than you planned to. If you tell yourself you are only going to use so much, and you use more than that, you probably have a substance abuse problem.
- You feel extreme anxiety when you know you are about to run out of weed. This means you fear you can’t live or function without it.
Not sure if you are abusing weed? Check out this article, which provides the four main differences between addiction and substance use.
# 7 What Does Weed Detox Entail?
If you make the decision to stop using pot, you will have a detoxification period, otherwise known as withdrawal. Detoxification is the body’s way of naturally getting rid of toxic chemicals – namely, weed. (Yes, whether you think so or not, the body recognizes marijuana as a toxic chemical). This process can last from two to four weeks and it is rather unpleasant.
Here are a few of the withdrawal symptoms you might experience if you are using weed on a regular basis and you suddenly stop using it:
- Irritability and aggression
- Mood swings
- Sleep disturbances such as insomnia or nightmares
- Cravings for more pot
- Decreased or increased appetite
- Loss of focus and motivation
- Mental fog
The good news about marijuana detox is that it is not life-threatening. You can manage withdrawal at home and undergo the process with a level of discomfort that does not require a medically supervised detox in a hospital or rehabilitation facility.
# 8 If I’m In Recovery, Would I Still Be “Sober” If I Used Marijuana?
Using marijuana in sobriety used to be a black and white issue. If you used it while you were working a recovery program, it would be considered a relapse. The legalization of medical marijuana has somewhat complicated this issue and created a gray area. In today’s world, many people have a prescription for medicinal marijuana. Having a prescription makes it easy to justify the use of marijuana and claim sobriety. So, let’s clear things up.
If you have a legitimate medical condition and you use medical marijuana AS PRESCRIBED, you would still be considered sober. However; if you are abusing the system and manipulating doctors to get marijuana just so you can get high – OR you are abusing your prescription – you are NOT considered sober.
Think of it this way – many people in recovery are legally prescribed opioid painkillers to treat pain. If they really need medications like Hydrocodone, Oxycontin, or Fentanyl for pain, they can take them without jeopardizing their recovery – as long as they are taking them as prescribed. Unfortunately, many people abuse legal opioids or lie to doctors to get them. When they do this, they are no longer working a program of recovery. Instead, they have crossed fine line between sobriety and active addiction. The same is true of medical marijuana.
If you are using marijuana WITHOUT a prescription, you cannot claim to have sobriety. This is still defined in black and white terms – no gray. Recovery is about abstaining from the use of drugs and alcohol. Marijuana is a drug.
# 9 Where Can I Get Help For Problem With Weed?
If you have a problem with pot, chances are you have tried time and time again to quit on your own – only to return to the drug over and over again. Because weed is addictive, most people find that they cannot stop using the stuff without help.
When it comes to treating marijuana addiction, many people choose to attend an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) to get professional help. This allows those who need treatment to attend rehab for several hours a night several times a week. While many people find that inpatient treatment at a round-the-clock rehabilitation facility is necessary, most marijuana addicts attend IOP for help with a weed addiction. This is usually sufficient, except in extreme cases.
Marijuana Anonymous is another solution for an addiction to pot. This is a 12-Step program for recovering marijuana addicts who meet regularly to help each other find and enjoy a life of sobriety.
Don’t Make The Mistake Of Minimizing Your Abuse Of Weed
There is no reason to feel ashamed if you have a problem with pot. Millions of people innocently start using the drug and then become addicted to it. If you think you have a problem with marijuana and you’re ready to stop using the stuff, seek help.
Many people prolong their addiction to marijuana because they are afraid they won’t have as much fun or enjoy life without using the drug. The fact is, marijuana robs you of your time, energy, and money. It can also rob you of your good health. Any happiness you think you feel because of the drug is temporarily and chemically induced, which means you will always need more to feel good. A life in recovery is rich and rewarding – and it’s real. Give it a chance.