Is Marijuana Use Risky for Your Mental Health?

You've probably heard people say that marijuana is safer than some addictive substances like alcohol. But, this doesn't mean that it is the final word. Weed is an illegal drug with the potential to affect the mental health of the user. Cannabis can be mixed with tobacco or smoked alone. Some people brew it while others cook it in food.

People use marijuana for varied reasons. For instance, a person can use marijuana to relieve physical or mental symptoms. This is known as self-medication. For such people, marijuana seems to provide short-term relief. However, it can create new problems or increase existing problems.

That's what you should know about the dangers of using marijuana. What's more, a person can develop an addiction to marijuana. So, if you've always thought that smoking weed is harmless, think again – it's never too late to find marijuana addiction help. It's also illegal to possess, use, sell, or grow marijuana is some places.

Effects of Marijuana

Marijuana affects its users differently. In some cases, a person feels happy and relaxed. In other cases, users become reflective and quiet. The effects of smoking marijuana are felt very soon. However, marijuana has also been associated with harmful effects.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, research has linked marijuana use to anxiety, depression, psychotic episodes, and suicide planning. However, it's not known whether using marijuana can lead to these conditions.

Nonetheless, about 1 in every 10 individuals that use weed becomes addicted to it. The addiction rate increases to 1 in every 6 individuals when its use starts before the age of 18 years.

How it Works

Marijuana goes into the bloodstream after ingestion. After this, it's carried to the brain where it sticks to receptors. This affects the behaviour and mood of the user. Weed contains many chemicals, called cannabinoids. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the most popular cannabinoids.

THC is a psychoactive chemical compound. This affects how the brain works and it's the reason a user might ask, is weed addictive? Stronger cannabis varieties like skunk have more THC. Evidence shows that skunk has stronger and faster effects than milder weed varieties.

CBD, on the other hand, has the potential to lessen the psychoactive effects caused by THC. Such effects include paranoia and hallucinations. It also has the potential to reduce anxiety. As such, THC effects are lower when a person consumes cannabis with more CBD.

How Marijuana Affects the Mental Health of the User

Most recent studies have focused on the link between cannabis and psychosis, as well as marijuana and schizophrenia. Research has shown that marijuana use can lead to short-term psychotic episodes. Reliable evidence has shown that using stringer varieties of marijuana and psychotic illnesses development has a link. Such illnesses include psychosis, bi-polar, and schizophrenia. However, scientists are yet to understand this link fully.

Cannabis use can also lead to the development of mental illness. As such, this is a cause for concern if you don't want to use it then end up struggling to find marijuana addiction help. However, many people don't develop a mental illness just for using marijuana. That's why not everybody that uses marijuana develops schizophrenia or psychosis. Not everybody that is suffering from schizophrenia or psychosis has consumed weed. Nevertheless, a person that smokes marijuana is likely to have a psychotic illness.

Genetically vulnerable people are also likely to suffer from a psychotic illness if they smoke marijuana. Being genetically vulnerable implies that a person is more likely to suffer from a mental illness naturally. For instance, an individual from a family where some members suffer from a mental illness are more likely to suffer a mental health problem. However, this doesn't mean they will.

What Research Says

Research has shown that chronic use of marijuana is a risk factor for mental and physical health among the youth. In one study, researchers investigated a group of individuals aged between 18 and 20 years who smoked weed. After following them up after 15 years, the researchers found the following:

  • Skunk users had a higher likelihood of developing psychosis when compared to users of milder marijuana.
  • Their likelihood of developing schizophrenia was two times more than individuals that didn't use cannabis.
  • Their likelihood of developing schizophrenia was six times higher if they used cannabis heavily compared to people that do not use marijuana. 

What you should know about the dangers of using marijuana is that some studies have conflicting findings. For instance, some studies have established the following:

  • Long-term use of marijuana can permanently but slightly affect how well a person concentrates and thinks.
  • Smoking marijuana can lead to psychotic relapse for a person with a psychotic illness.
  • People that start smoking marijuana at an early age are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression in their young adulthood.
  • People that start using marijuana in their youth are more likely to develop psychosis.

The effects of marijuana are more on young people because they have a developing brain. So, are you in your youth and asking, is weed addictive? If yes, it might be wise to consider avoiding weed until you are above 20 years of age.

What's more, a person with a family member that suffers from psychosis, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or depression should avoid using marijuana. That's because they have a higher risk of developing a mental health problem if they use marijuana. Marijuana users have also been shown to have higher depressive symptoms and depression levels than individuals that don't use it. Using marijuana can also cause temporary anxiety symptoms like panic.

Additionally, repeated or chronic use of marijuana can lead to an addiction. When a person that has been using marijuana stops, they may feel irritable, angry, and anxious. They might also have difficulties sleeping and eating. This can compel them to find marijuana addiction help.

The Bottom Line

Despite the rising popularity of marijuana and increasing numbers of its users, this drug is not harmless. Although some studies show that weed can have positive effects on mental health, other findings suggest otherwise. So, before you start using marijuana, know that it can affect your mental health negatively.

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Mark Bernberg
Mark Bernberg

Mark Bernberg is a long-time cannabis investing enthusiast and founder of The Green Fund, Asia Pacific's preeminent media house, positioned at the forefront of the global cannabis industry.

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