Cannabis products have the potential to cause severe health issues, including addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Recent data suggest that 30% of those who use marijuana may have some degree of marijuana use disorder” (MUD). In addition, “People who begin using marijuana before the age of 18 are four to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder than adults.” Exclusive Hawaii Rehab helps people recover from MUD using alternative holistic and evidence-based therapies.

What Is Cannabis Use Disorder?

Cannabis use disorder (CUD), another term for MUD, is a mental health disorder characterized by an inability to stop misusing cannabis despite negative social or health consequences. According to the previously mentioned article by NIDA, “In 2015, about 4.0 million people in the United States met the diagnostic criteria for a marijuana use disorder.” The number of people diagnosed with MUD has increased in the last several years due to some states relaxing their laws on the private use of prescription marijuana.

The adverse effects of cannabis abuse are more pronounced for individuals who misuse the substance as adolescents and young adults. Changes to the brain caused by cannabis misuse at a younger age may lead to permanent disability, including memory issues, psychosis, or loss of motivation. Studies have shown that at a “symptomatic level, heavy [marijuana] use modifies conscious experience by altering the brain’s network for self-awareness.” In addition, “By reducing anxiety and impairing memory, it also affects motivation and personal experience.”

What Are the Diagnostic Criteria?

A clinical assessment is necessary to determine if an individual meets the criteria for MUD. Most addiction specialists use The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) to diagnose substance use disorder (SUD).

Individuals who meet the criteria for MUD often report the following:

  • Cannabis taken for longer or at a larger amount than originally intended
  • Desire to reduce or stop cannabis use and inability to stop
  • Avoiding necessary responsibilities to misuse cannabis despite negative consequences
  • Continued cannabis abuse despite significant social and interpersonal problems caused by cannabis abuse
  • Stopping important life activities to abuse cannabis
  • Withdrawal symptoms when abstaining from cannabis

People who meet these criteria may have MUD. A clinical diagnosis is necessary to ensure accurate treatment.

Experience True Healing

Our deeply-caring staff and the surrounding natural beauty offer an unparalleled healing experience.

How Do Active Components of Cannabis Impact the Brain?

Marijuana is a mind-altering substance. According to MedlinePlus, “The main, active ingredient in marijuana is THC (short for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) . . . The THC in marijuana acts on your brain (central nervous system).” THC releases dopamine and causes multiple changes to the brain, including the “high” people associate with substance abuse. Changes to the central nervous system (CNS) caused by marijuana abuse can lead to severe health issues, including psychotic episodes. Marijuana misuse at a young age is also a significant risk factor for developing schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.

Symptoms and Side Effects of Cannabis Use Disorder

CUD is one of the most studied addictive behaviors in the United States. Most of the long-term adverse side effects of marijuana abuse impact people who misuse the substance as teenagers or young adults. However, adults who misuse the drug also report adverse mental and physical side effects.

Research studies have revealed many potential effects of cannabis abuse, including:

  • Relationship problems and unhealthy family dynamics
  • Loss of motivation and difficulty completing essential daily tasks and responsibilities
  • Mood swings and emotional instability
  • Changes to sleep patterns impacting general health
  • Altered sensory perceptions
  • Changes in eating patterns causing potential health issues related to unexpected weight gain
  • Increased risk of severe illness, injury, or accidents
  • Loss of coordination
  • Slowed body responses
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Issues related to memory and learning
  • Increased blood pressure
  • High doses of the drug may cause hallucinations or delusions
  • Chronic marijuana abuse may cause psychosis

The symptoms and side effects of marijuana abuse are different for everyone. Cannabis abuse has a profound impact on the brain. Younger individuals who misuse marijuana have the potential to permanently damage brain development. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), one study “showed that people who started smoking marijuana heavily in their teens and had an ongoing marijuana use disorder lost an average of 8 IQ points between ages 13 and 38.”

NIDA goes on to report that “[w]hen people begin using marijuana as teenagers, the drug may impair thinking, memory, and learning functions and affect how the brain builds connections between the areas necessary for these functions.” Adult abuse of marijuana may also affect people’s ability to develop new skills and complete basic daily tasks. Regions of the brain most impacted by cannabis abuse are responsible for memory, learning, and problem-solving.

Experience True Healing

Our deeply-caring staff and the surrounding natural beauty offer an unparalleled healing experience.

Treatment Options at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab

Cannabis generally has mild detox and withdrawal symptoms, making it easier to abstain from compared to other addictive substances. Treatment programs help clients develop coping skills and healthy routines to replace substance abuse. Clients and clinicians collaborate to ensure the best possible outcome.

Some of the most effective treatment options for cannabis addiction include:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Psychiatry
  • Peer support
  • Prescription medication to manage underlying mental health symptoms
  • Alternative holistic therapies

Everyone has a different healing journey. Clients recovering from the effects of cannabis misuse often use a combination of treatment services. Exclusive Hawaii Rehab provides medical and social support to help reduce the risk of relapse and prepare clients for long-term recovery.