You lead a pretty healthy life. You run daily, or at least try to, and you watch what you eat. You have always been pretty athletic and it’s a sense of pride for you.
But lately, you’ve noticed that you’re struggling to do the things you once were able to do with ease. That two mile morning run has now become one and the ability to get out of bed and motivate yourself is diminished.
Maybe it is just age. Or maybe it is because of something you’ve been putting into your body. You don’t think there is any issue with partaking in marijuana occasionally for the social aspect and the relaxation from daily stress it gives you.
States are legalizing it so it can’t be that bad for you. Right? In reality, while marijuana is becoming more socially accepted in the United States, there are still potentially serious side effects from frequent consumption.
Why Do People Smoke Marijuana?
Marijuana, or cannabis, has been consumed for many thousands of years on our planet and today, statistics show it is the most consumed federally illegal substance in the United States.
There are three key reasons in which Americans consume marijuana.The first reason is for medical use.
Marijuana is used to treat many medical conditions, or the symptoms that arise from medical conditions. It can be effective in treating symptoms like nausea, pain, lack of appetite, anxiety, muscle spasms, insomnia (inability to sleep), and more. These symptoms often come from conditions like, cancer, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
While this is likely the least popular reason, multiple religions/movements like Rastafarian, Sikhism, and Hinduism use cannabis as part of their spiritual ceremonies.
Others, while not tied to a direct religion, consume cannabis as a way of connecting themselves further with reflection, enlightenment, and personal growth.
The most common reason that Americans consume marijuana is for societal purposes. The reasons for societal consumption of marijuana include recreational, socialization, and what many believe to be an improvement to quality of life.
Many believe with recreational consumption they can make activities more enjoyable, relaxing, and it improves their ability to concentrate.
Among the recreational activities many consider as improved by marijuana consumption are eating, watching television/movies, listening to music, being creative, and having sex.
While these things are all considered improvements with the help of marijuana, consumption of the drug does not come without adverse effects to physical, mental, and other aspects of health.
Where and Why Is Marijuana Legal?
Marijuana, at the time of this writing is legal for recreational use in 19 states and two territories. Colorado in 2012 became the first state to legalize recreational marijuana and the domino effect is still rolling throughout the country.
As of June 29, 2021, New Mexico is one of the 19 states that have legalized recreational marijuana.
Under the Cannabis Regulation Act in New Mexico, any adult 21 or older can possess as many as two ounces of marijuana at one time outside of their home. You may still face a misdemeanor in the state if you are caught with anywhere from more than two ounces all the way up with 16 ounces.
While it is legal to possess, it is still illegal to smoke marijuana in public. If caught, you may face a fine.
Joining Colorado and New Mexico as states or territories that have legalized recreational marijuana are:
- New Jersey
- New York
- South Dakota
- Washington, D.C.
34 states have legalized medical marijuana at the time of this writing.
Methods of Consuming Marijuana
Marijuana is typically consumed in three different ways.
The first and most common mode of consumption is smoking. This means a person inhales the smoke from the burning of cannabis flower, leaves, or some version of extract of the plant.
When inhaled, the chemicals enter a person’s system or bloodstream via the lungs. Smoking marijuana is done by inhaling in a number of different forms. They include:
- A cigarette filled with marijuana instead of tobacco
- A cigar wrapper filled with marijuana
- A pipe in which the smoke is filtered through water for a less harsh process of inhalation
Smoking marijuana is considered to be the quickest way to achieve a high. However it is also considered to be the shortest lasting.
Marijuana is also consumed through eating. Often called edibles, cannabis is typically cooked into an oil-like substance and mixed into any number of different plates.
Commonly the oil is added to candies, brownies, cookies, or cakes.
A less common, though increasingly common method of consuming marijuana is transdermally (through the skin). Most commonly this is a method used medically with the hope of receiving the benefits of the chemical CBD found in cannabis.
How Marijuana Affects Your Lung Health
Somewhere along the way of the legalization process in the United States for many states and the overall acceptance of marijuana, many have unfortunately overlooked the possibility of negative side effects coming from frequent marijuana consumption.
Smoking marijuana may very well be just as damaging on your lungs as smoking cigarettes. A review published in 2019 published by researchers at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) states in fact that it, “The carcinogens and respiratory toxins in cannabis and tobacco smoke are similar but the smoking topography for cannabis results in higher per-puff exposures to inhaled tar and gases.”
This means that on an average puff of a joint, blunt, pipe, or bong, a person is taking in as many cancer-causing chemicals as one puff of a typical cigarette.
Continual smoking of marijuana causes more tar build up than cigarettes as well.
Smoking marijuana on a frequent basis can cause many lung issues including:
- Shortness of breath
- Increased phlegm production
- Chronic coughing
It may also be tied to increased risks of diseases or cancers like:
- Lung cancer
- Throat cancer
- Mouth cancer
How Marijuana Affects Your Brain Health
Many of the positive effects of marijuana are directly related to what it does to the brain. The psychoactive chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) provides pleasure and can alter memories, thoughts, concentration, time perception, and motor skills.
These same mind-altering effects can have negative consequences in the long-term.
In the short-term, there are risks of facing many different psychological side effects of marijuana.
- Inability to coherently speak
Consuming marijuana as a young adult or teen has the largest negative impact on brain health. Studies have concluded that teens who consume marijuana are at an increased risk of depression and/or suicidal behavior.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse also found that when compared to peers that do not partake in marijuana, teenagers who consume marijuana are subject to losing IQ points.
How Marijuana Affects Your Heart Health
There are many physical effects occurring when you consume marijuana. As the drug works it’s way throughout your body, your heart takes on many changes from normalcy.
Inhaling marijuana has been shown to increase the risk of heart attack within the first 60 minutes of inhalation by 4.8 times. This is caused by the smoke causing difficulty in breathing. When it is difficult to breathe, your heart rate speeds up.
These instances of this happening are still rare, but can occur.
The toxins and carcinogens the body faces when exposed to smoke from marijuana can also increase the risk of heart failure or stroke, similar to cigarettes.
How Marijuana Affects Your Bone Health
While there are positive effects to your bone health because of the chemical Cannabidol (CBD) in marijuana, according to studies, the overall consumption of marijuana does little to help because of other chemicals also included.
Heavy consumption of marijuana may actually decrease your bone health according to other studies. Because of the decrease in bone density, you become more likely to suffer from broken bones, fractures, or diseases like osteoporosis.
What Happens When You Smoke Marijuana While Pregnant
Consuming marijuana, especially through smoking it, is harmful to both the soon-to-be mother and the baby.
There are increased risks of stillbirth from smoking marijuana during pregnancy. There are also increased chances of neurological conditions like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Non-Physical Side Effects of Marijuana
It goes without saying that marijuana can have effects on aspects of a person’s life apart from the physical effects.
Misuse of marijuana can lead to relationship problems, financial struggles, and job insecurity.
With relationships, problems can arise from choosing marijuana over alternative plans that can happen. Due to the potential slumber marijuana can put you in, it is possible to face relationship or friendship problems because of laziness.
Financial struggles can occur when a person begins to consume too much marijuana. To begin with, marijuana is not overly cheap when purchased for quality. On top of other expenses in life, marijuana consumption, or misuse, can quickly become troublesome.
While many states have legalized marijuana both medically and recreationally, many employers still hold strict standards in terms of drug usage. When consuming marijuana, you will have the inability to pass most drug tests. This can in turn lead to the inability to land a job.
Marijuana Addiction Treatment
The positive effects of marijuana have become increasingly clear in recent years as acceptance, but never overlook the fact that marijuana is still a substance that can be misused and addictive.
Because of the uncertainty in deciphering between addiction and dependence, there are many in the country who are dealing with a marijuana addiction and the negative effects of it without even knowing.
The American Psychiatric Association defines substance use disorders as, “A condition in which there is uncontrolled use of a substance despite harmful consequences. People with SUD have an intense focus on using a certain substance(s) such as alcohol, tobacco, or illicit drugs, to the point where the person’s ability to function in day to day life becomes impaired. People keep using the substance even when they know it is causing or will cause problems. The most severe SUDs are sometimes called addictions.”
While you may never have a physical dependence to marijuana, it is possible that you can have an addiction in which you completely morph your life around it.
Marijuana addiction treatment exists and it may help you or your loved one regain control of your life.
Treatment using a 12-step program can help put an end to long-term marijuana addiction. The program will assist you in realizing marijuana consumption as it impacts the negative things in your life and assists you in realizing that life without marijuana is possible and a positive thing.
Treatment may also include remedies like yoga, meditation, or acupuncture to release the desires to marijuana.
Call Shadow Mountain Recovery Today
Shadow Mountain Recovery Centers are located in New Mexico with three locations within the state. We have locations in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Taos.
Within the beauty and history of the American Southwest, our patients are given personalized treatment plans that treat all aspects of their life and not just their addiction.
Contact us today at (800) 203-8249.