As more jurisdictions legalize the recreational use of marijuana, researchers are concerned about the long-term health effects of heavy pot smoking. A recent federal survey indicates that while teen marijuana use is declining, the percentage of adults smoking pot has risen. The number has climbed from approximately 10 percent to slightly more than 14 percent over the past decade. Health experts are worried because the study also indicated an increasing number of individuals are smoking larger amounts of marijuana on a daily basis. In 2016, close to 19 percent of marijuana users consumed the drug daily or nearly every day. This is a 50 percent increase from 2002. Public health researchers are alarmed that this may be a sign of drug dependency. While the debate continues over legalization and ways to regulate marijuana sales, the current research provides interesting insights about daily marijuana use.
What Is in Marijuana Smoke?
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, the marijuana currently available is much stronger than the substance used in the past. The resulting high is more likely to trigger psychedelic effects instead of just the sensation of mild intoxication. Although most users experience a high that fades after a few hours, some people could have hallucinations or feelings of paranoia.
Marijuana smoke contains over 60 chemicals known as cannabinoids, the most well-known component in THC. Like tobacco smoke, marijuana also contains irritants, including ammonia, formaldehyde and hydrogen cyanide. Some of these chemicals are known carcinogens. While studies have yet to link smoking marijuana to lung cancer, the practice does cause damage and precancerous changes that can generate persistent coughing and wheezing.
Side Effects of Chronic Marijuana Use
While marijuana is a popular recreational drug and has the reputation for being safe, it does have a dangerous effect on the body. The health effects of using marijuana may not be apparent for years.
With continued use, the psychoactive chemical components of marijuana are stored in the body’s fat cells and gradually released into the bloodstream. This means that an individual can experience the effects of the drug until the chemical is no longer present in the body.
Daily use promotes a chronic loss of cognitive functions like attention, focus and concentration. Brain imaging scans demonstrate that heavy marijuana use affects the flow of blood to the brain. People who smoke pot every day typically have reduced levels of professional and academic performance. Motivation levels also decrease. Daily users may experience memory loss, poor coordination and issues with problem-solving. Long-term marijuana use may change the way the brain matures.
Other side effects from prolonged use include anxiety, depression and a fast heart rate that increases the risk of a heart attack, according to the American College of Cardiology. Daily marijuana use increases the potential for dependency or addiction. Approximately 15 percent of cannabis users develop an addiction to the drug and have a difficult time kicking the habit.
Help with Drug Dependency Is a Phone Call Away
If you or a loved one has a marijuana dependency or another addiction, help is just a phone call away. A quality treatment center gives you the tools and support you need to break the cycle of addiction. Ocean Hills Recovery can get you started on the road to recovery.