Even though several states in America have legalized marijuana, smoking or vaping the drug, also known as “cannabis” and “weed,” remains a potentially addictive habit. Marijuana, like any addictive substance, can cause significant damage to the brain and body. Even though marijuana produces temporary feelings of euphoria that makes users feel relaxed and less anxious, prolonged use of the substance can cause respiratory problems, cognitive dysfunction, an increased risk of cancer, and a weakened immune system. Marijuana can also lead to paranoia and increase users’ risks of depression, schizophrenia, and anxiety disorders. Luckily, some of marijuana’s adverse effects can be reversed by quitting.
What is Marijuana?
After alcohol, marijuana is the most commonly used psychotropic substance in the United States. The drug, which is made up of dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds of the cannabis Sativa or Indica plants, contains a mind-altering chemical called tetrahydrocannabinol or THC and other similar substances. When used medically, marijuana can help control and relieve pain, but most people use the substance recreationally.
Most people smoke marijuana in hand-rolled cigarettes called “joints,” or in pipes and water pipes called “bongs.” Sometimes, users smoke marijuana in blunts, emptied cigars that have been partly or completely refilled will marijuana. Others use vaporizers, which allows them to inhale marijuana vapor rather than smoke. Marijuana can also be mixed into food such as brownies, cookies, and candy, or brewed as tea. These “edibles” have become especially popular over the last few years. Regardless of marijuana’s popularity and legalization, the drug can cause addiction. In fact, in 2019, more than 4 million Americans over the age of 12 had an addiction to marijuana.
Health Benefits of Quitting Marijuana
There are many benefits to quitting marijuana. Whether you’re addicted to cannabis or a casual smoker, quitting marijuana can:
1. Improve Your Respiratory Health
According to the American Lung Association, marijuana smoke contains some of the same toxins, irritants, and carcinogens as tobacco smoke which is commonly associated with difficulty breathing, lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, and other respiratory problems. In addition to that, marijuana smokers tend to inhale the smoke more deeply and hold their breath longer than cigarette smokers, increasing their exposure to tar which can scar the lungs and lead to pulmonary fibrosis, which has a 3- to 5-year survival rate. Marijuana can also create air sacs in the lungs, making users more prone to infections and exposure to the bacteria and fungus often found in street cannabis. Eliminating weed from your system can also give your body a chance to heal the air sacs in your lungs, improving your respiratory and cardiovascular systems. You’ll be less prone to lung infection and pneumonia as well. If you have asthma, you might also notice those symptoms improve over the course of several months.
2. Provides Mental Clarity & Greater Cognitive Functioning
Smoking weed directly affects parts of the brain responsible for memory, learning, concentration, and decision making. In short, regularly smoking marijuana can leave you with severe brain fog. Heavy marijuana use can also cause memory loss, an inability to focus, and difficulty learning. Even though studies show that some cognitive deficits remain after users quit marijuana, some cognitive functions, such as memory loss and the ability to learn new information, can improve. A study out of Massachusetts General Hospital revealed that adolescents and young adults who refrained from using marijuana were better able to process and remember new information compared to peers who continued to smoke marijuana. After quitting marijuana you may also notice that you have a much easier time forming coherent thoughts and communicating with others.
3. Improve the Health of Your Heart
Marijuana makes the heart beat faster. Smoking marijuana can also increase your risk of a heart attack or stroke as THC and other cannabinoids travel from the lungs to the cardiovascular system. Chronic marijuana use can also inflame and increase the size of the heart. Luckily, quitting marijuana decreases swelling in the heart, allowing the organ to function more normally, lowering the risk of stroke, heart attack, and cardiovascular issues.
4. Make You Less Vulnerable to Mental Health Issues
After marijuana’s temporary high, most weed smokers feel depressed and anxious. In fact, a large percentage of marijuana users use the drug as a way to alleviate stress and escape emotional, physical, and psychological distress. Unfortunately, marijuana can make mental health issues worse. Several studies show a correlation between cannabis use and depression. Luckily, quitting marijuana can rapidly improve your mental health. In fact, many former marijuana smokers say that having a renewed sense of motivation, energy, purpose, and a sense of drive has been just as valuable as improving their health.
5. Helps Rebuild Better Relationships with Friends & Family
As your brain becomes accustomed to marijuana, consuming the drug becomes one of your main priorities. You may also begin to feel more comfortable when you’re high than when you’re sober. Unfortunately, this can begin to impact your relationships with your family and friends. Instead of spending time with your loved ones, your addiction to marijuana could compel you to hang out with other marijuana users instead. You’ll also want to hide your drug habit from your family and friends, meaning you’ll avoid the very people you’re closest to, straining those relationships. But when you quit marijuana you don’t have to worry about those problems. Instead of focusing on obtaining and consuming more marijuana, you’ll have the time and the desire to rebuild solid relationships with the people who matter most — your family and friends.
Helping You Develop the Skills You Need to Begin Again
At Genesis Recovery, we help restore lives broken by addiction. But you can begin again and we can help you get there. Our treatment programs for marijuana addiction combine the 12-step process, clinical science, community, and spiritual and faith-based practices to reinvigorate your soul. But we don’t stop there. Our dedicated staff members will also work with you to help you develop the skills you need for long-term sobriety.
Contact us today at 619-797-7319 if you or a loved one are struggling with marijuana addiction and are searching for a treatment center that will truly meet your recovery needs.