Cannabis is a drug that’s derived from the cannabis plant, which contains the chemical, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is known to cause feelings of relaxation, euphoria and tranquillity, and is responsible for the ‘high’ that draws many people to misuse this drug.
Weed can be consumed in a number of different ways. It can be smoked using a few different methods:
- Rolled cigarettes (known as ‘joints’)
- Water pipes (known as ‘bongs’)
- Handheld pipes
- Vaporising devices (known as ‘vapes’)
- Cigars (known as ‘blunts’)
It can also be cooked or baked into certain foods (known as ‘edibles’). These can include things like brownies, biscuits and sweets. It can even be brewed into drinks such as tea.
What are the effects of weed?
Ultimately, cannabis use affects your central nervous system. Some of the most common and immediate effects of cannabis use include:
- Calmness, tranquillity and relaxation
- Stress relief
- Increased appetite (known as ‘the munchies’)
- An altered perception of your surroundings
- An altered sense of time, or an inability to track the passage of time
- Heightened senses e.g. colours and sounds may seem to be more vivid
- Lowered inhibitions, which may cause you to take risks
- Impaired judgement
- Nausea and vomiting
- Hallucinations (hearing, seeing or perceiving things that aren’t real)
- Increased heart rate
- Feeling faint and light-headed
These effects are generally seen no matter which method you have used to consume weed, whether you’ve smoked it or ingested it through food/drink. However, the way you’ve taken weed is known to influence the speed of onset of these effects, and how long they last.
Effects of smoking weed
Smoking or vaping weed is the quickest way to feel the effects of this drug. This method of consuming weed means that the THC in this substance reaches your bloodstream in minutes or even seconds. Usually, after smoking weed, the effects peak within around 30 minutes and tend to last between 1-3 hours.
Effects of ingesting weed
Eating or drinking cannabis results in a delayed ‘high’ because it takes longer for the THC in the weed to reach your bloodstream. It can take between 30 minutes to 2 hours for you to start feelings the effects, but these tend to last for much longer (up to 8 hours) compared to if you smoke or vape weed.
Is weed addictive?
There are many myths surrounding cannabis use, including whether this substance is addictive and whether it can result in lasting damage to your body. Some people believe that if they only use it recreationally, they’re not at risk of becoming dependent on this substance.
However, as with other drugs (including legal substances such as alcohol and prescription drugs), regular and ongoing consumption of weed can lead to a physical or psychological dependence. It’s thought that around 1 in 10 people who use marijuana will develop an addiction to it. Signs of cannabis addiction include:
- Building a tolerance to weed. This means that you’ll need to take more of the drug in order to achieve the ‘high’ you seek
- Experiencing cannabis withdrawal symptoms (including irritability, restlessness and insomnia) if you haven’t consumed weed for a certain amount of time, or don’t have access to it
- Intense cravings for cannabis, to the extent that these affect your mood or concentration levels
- Continuing to abuse cannabis, even though you have experienced negative consequences as a result of this
- Being deceptive or dishonest about your cannabis use, activities and whereabouts
- Denying that you have a problem with marijuana abuse, both to yourself and others
In addition, the support group, Marijuana Anonymous, lists 12 questions you can ask yourself to determine whether weed has become a problem in your life, and whether you may be struggling with an addiction. These are:
- Has smoking weed stopped being fun?
- Do you ever get high alone?
- Is it hard for you to imagine a life without weed?
- Do you find that your friends are determined by your marijuana use?
- Do you smoke weed to avoid dealing with your problems?
- Do you smoke weed to cope with your feelings?
- Does weed use let you live in a privately defined world?
- Have you ever failed to keep promises you made about cutting down or controlling your use of marijuana?
- Has your use of marijuana caused problems with memory, concentration or motivation?
- When your stash is nearly empty, do you feel anxious or worried about how to get more?
- Do you plan your life around your marijuana use?
- Have friends or relatives ever complained that your using is damaging your relationship with them?
If you answer ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, this could suggest you have a problem with marijuana, and may need help.
Effects of long-term marijuana use
Chronic marijuana use can result in a whole range of long-term mental, physical and social problems that have the potential to affect all areas of your life. Some of the long-term effects of weed can include:
Mental health problems
Using cannabis for a prolonged period of time can have a negative impact on your mental health. It can put you at increased risk of developing mental health problems, such as depression, schizophrenia and psychosis, and can make any existing mental health problems worse. It can also reduce the effectiveness of any mental health medication you’re currently taking.
In addition, chronic marijuana use can result in an increased risk of you developing addictions to other substances, such as alcohol or other drugs, especially if you use these substances alongside cannabis or try to mimic the effects of cannabis by taking these substances. It can also increase your chances of becoming addicted to nicotine, especially if you smoke cannabis in joints.
Chronic marijuana use can also interfere with your brain’s mental processing capabilities, resulting in confusion, memory problems and difficulty concentrating.
Cannabis use is also associated with a range of physical problems. It can cause long-term issues with many different bodily systems, increasing your risk of mouth, throat and lung disease, thyroid problems, heart problems (including heart attacks) and stroke. It can also reduce your fertility and lead to problems with the reproductive system.
Research also suggests that cannabis use can cause changes to the physical structure of your brain, thus causing long-term problems with brain functioning.
In addition, studies show that if you use cannabis during pregnancy, this can increase the risk of your baby having a low birth weight, being born prematurely or even being stillborn.
As well as affecting you mentally and physically, cannabis can also cause problems within the social aspects of your life. Chronic marijuana use can lead you to withdraw from family and friends, which can result in strained or ruined relationships. In addition, you might find that you only tend to socialise with other people who use marijuana or other drugs.
You might also find that you have become uninterested in activities or hobbies you once enjoyed, and dedicate all of your time to seeking out and using cannabis.
Your work may suffer too. Chronic cannabis abuse can lead to low motivation and poor performance at work, including a decrease in your productivity levels. This can lead to things like job loss, financial difficulties and even homelessness.
Treatment for marijuana addiction
Using weed can cause a number of negative short and long-term effects. However, it’s important to understand that help is available. Marijuana addiction treatment, consisting of intensive group and individual addiction therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for addictions, family support, and round-the-clock monitoring from a highly skilled multidisciplinary team, will help you to address any underlying causes for your addictive behaviours and help you get back on track.
Our 28-day addiction treatment programme at Life Works can help you to overcome your marijuana use. We offer:
- A free, pre-screening addiction assessment
- A 10-day medically assisted detoxification for your weed addiction, if this is needed
- Individual 1:1 and structured group therapy
- A range of tried and tested therapeutic techniques
- Access to both on and off-site 12-Step support groups, which may include Marijuana Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous
- A high quality family programme
- A beautiful and welcoming hospital environment, dedicated to your recovery
You don’t have to struggle with weed addiction; this condition is entirely treatable and we can help you achieve the healthy and fulfilling life you deserve.