Recovery Blog What are the Long-Term Effects of Marijuana Use?

What Are the Long-Term Effects of Marijuana Use?

Many individuals view marijuana as a safer alternative to harder illicit drugs like cocaine and heroin. But chronic use of marijuana can cause adverse health effects, both in the short and long term.

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Short-Term Effects of Marijuana Use

Short-term marijuana use can cause a number of acute side effects, including:

  • Hallucinations
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis
  • Panic
  • Coordination issues
  • Lowered reaction time

In addition to short-term effects, using marijuana on a regular basis over an extended period of time may also come with a slew of long-term effects.

Long-Term Effects of Marijuana Use

A growing body of evidence suggests that marijuana may cause long-term health effects in the human body, including:

  • Increased risk of heart attack and stroke
  • Lowered cognitive function and IQ
  • Impaired ability to perform complex tasks
  • Anti-social behavior
  • Issues with relationships
  • Addiction

The long-term effects of marijuana use appear to be more severe when it begins in adolescence. Studies conducted on rodents suggest that exposure to THC in adolescents can cause problems with memory and learning later in life. Further, changes in the brain may occur as a result of long-term marijuana use.

Both structural and functional changes have been noted in the hippocampus of the brain. Being exposed to THC over the long run can alter the reward system in the brain, increasing the chances of opting for other harder drugs, including opioids, when the opportunity arises.

Is Marijuana Addictive?

In addition to the physical and social long-term effects of marijuana use, there may be an addictive component of long-term marijuana use. While many people who smoke marijuana for years never develop an addiction to it, others can.

Unlike many other substances, marijuana’s withdrawal symptoms are not usually severe. Withdrawal symptoms associated with marijuana include nausea, anxiety, depression, irritability, aggression, poor sleep and gastrointestinal issues.

Further, studies suggest that addiction to marijuana can occur, particularly when such use is prolonged over time. Being exposed to THC on a chronic basis can lead to physical dependence, as well as behavioral, physiological and chemical changes in the body.

Those who choose to use marijuana on a frequent basis should be aware of the potential for a variety of long-term effects, including addiction.

Getting Help for Marijuana Addiction

If you have developed marijuana addiction, medical professionals can help you detox successfully and begin your recovery journey. There are specific addiction treatment programs that cater to those who may be addicted to multiple drugs, including marijuana.

Contact The Recovery Village Columbus to speak with a coordinator who can point you to the right treatment center for you.

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.