Marijuana Abuse and Health Hazards
- Parent Category: Drugs
- Category: Marijuana
- Written by Stop Admin
There are numerous deleterious health hazards associated with short and long-term marijuana use, including marijuana addiction.
During the period of intoxication, marijuana use disrupts short-term memory, attention, judgment, as well as other cognitive functions. In addition, marijuana abuse has also been shown to impair coordination and balance, and can increase an individual\s heart rate. Longer lasting cognitive deficits have been reported in heavy marijuana users. New research published last year shows that those who engage in a lifetime of heavy marijuana use reported an overall dissatisfaction with their mental and physical health as well as their life achievement.
Recently we have learned that there is in fact a marijuana withdrawal syndrome that can last several days to a week following abstinence. This syndrome is characterized by increased anxiety, increased drug craving, sleep difficulties, and decreased appetite. It is very similar to the withdrawal that many users report after abstaining from nicotine and may explain why quitting marijuana can be difficult for some.
New research is also showing us that marijuana use can affect almost every organ in the body, from the central nervous system to the cardiovascular, endocrine, respiratory/pulmonary, and immune systems. Because marijuana is typically rolled into a cigarette or "joint" and smoked, it has been shown to greatly impact the respiratory system and increases the likelihood of some cancers. Marijuana users typically inhale more deeply and hold their breath longer than tobacco smokers do, exposing them to the 50 percent to 70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke has. Also, we are finding that early exposure to marijuana is associated with an increased likelihood of a lifetime of subsequent drug abuse problems. A study, published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association of over 300 fraternal and identical twin pairs, who differed on whether or not they used marijuana before the age of 17, found that those who had used marijuana early had elevated rates of other drug use and drug problems later on, compared to their twin who did not use marijuana before age 17.
Finally, there are also some known health hazards with marijuana use with mothers who use marijuana during pregnancy. An ongoing longitudinal study that has been investigating the consequences of prenatal exposure to marijuana, for example, recently published results in this now adolescent aged population and found that prenatal exposure was associated with worse performance on tasks that required visual memory, analysis, and integration.