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A drug is a chemical or natural substance that alters the pattern of the human body functioning. The usage of drug varies from diagnosing, treatment or prevention of certain diseases to maintenance of the mental or physical well-being of a person. A drug affects the function of the body and is a habit-forming substance. A dependency on legal or illegal drug substance is called drug addiction. Among the most commonly abused drugs are nicotine, alcohol, cannabinoids, opioids, stimulants, club drugs, dissociative drugs, hallucinogens and prescription medications. This paper will focus on the marijuana abuse, its beneficial and adverse effects, symptoms of withdrawal, and prevention methods.
Cannabinoids include marijuana and hashish. Marijuana is a name for the dry flowering tops and leaves of the pistillate hemp plant. They yield tetrahydrocannabidinol (THC), the active component of the drug. People smoke them in cigarettes to get the intoxicating effect. Humanity has known and used it for centuries for sedative and analgesic purposes. In spite of the fact that the drug has been declared generally illegal since the International Opium Convention of 1925, it is widely used worldwide.
According to statistics, marijuana is the most widely spread drug in the United States. It is considered that about one third of the population aged 12 and older tried marijuana at least once (Sidney, 1997). Compared to the previous decade, the growth of the marijuana use is nearly 4% among the adults (Compton, 2004). The marijuana usage rates rapidly increased among African Americans, as well as among Hispanic people. It is important to say that the rates remain high also among the white people. Over the last four decades, reduced workplace productivity, lowered educational level, increased craving for illegal substances are associated with marijuana.
Marijuana abuse and dependency is so widespread that young people might not consider it as a problem. If a person sees something everywhere, for example among their friends, shool peers, acquaintance adults, in the movies or in songs’ lyrics, it becomes a part of their comfort zone and the person loses their awareness. A pattern of thinking particularly attributable to young people goes as follows, “if so many people do it, it cannot be so dangerous and bad at all”. Some people try marijuana out of curiosity, others resort to it because they do not want to differ from their friends, some consider it cool and think that it makes them look more grown-up, others just try to escape from their life problems in any possible way. No matter what reason made a person try marijuana or use it for a certain period of time, this person has to remember that they are dealing with a psychoactive substance, the influence of which cannot be predicted, controlled and, most importantly, reversed. Any drug resembles a computer virus that penetrates into the human body and compels people to its will. It can add some fun features to the system or brighten the outlook for a certain period, it can even shut off the reality and “help” the person to recharge, but the long-term outcomes are always not worth it because the whole system is inevitably damaged. The trick with marijuana is that it is so popular that it does not seem dangerous to people who try it. The fact that marijuana has no recorded fatal outcomes encourages people not to worry about using this kind of drug. Moreover, there are thousands if not millions of people who smoke marijuana daily and do not consider themselves drug addicts. They are sure that their way of life is healthy and can even claim that they are against any drugs.
Like any other drug, marijuana has several withdrawal symptoms. Body chemistry, level of abuse, problems that made the person use this substance, and other factors determine the strength and duration of the symptoms. Among the most general and widely recognized complaints of marijuana withdrawal are irritability, anxiety, boredom, sleep disturbances, and craving. Insomnia is the most frequent side effect of quitting marijuana. The next one is depression. Nightmares and vivid dreamss join the ranks of the unpleasant consequences of marijuana usage (Gledhill-Hoyot, 2000). A large percentage of people who suffer from the symptoms described above take up the habit of using the drug again to get rid of the withdrawal symptoms that seem to be unbearable for them.
To treat marijuana dependency, one needs to know what caused it. Some people use drugs to escape from their problems, It is important to help such people cope with their lives and encourage them to use other ways of overcoming. As the withdrawal symptoms fade away within a few weeks, a person is fully capable of moving on with their life. In some rare cases, a person may need to undergo detoxification therapy. In general, marijuana dependency is curable.
Apart from addictive and destructive effects on human body, marijuana possesses beneficial qualities as well, when used wisely in medicine. Medical cannabis is reported to help cease nausea and vomiting of the individuals who suffer from AIDS or undergo chemotherapy. It cures muscle spasticity and pain, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and movement problems. However, long-time effects are not clear as for now, that is why it is impossible to justify the use of medical cannabis in a number of countries.
It is worth remembering that marijuana does not only bring euphoria and relaxation with it. Apart from creating the psychological dependency, marijuana influences the brain physically. Hallucinations, delusions, and a loss of the sense of personal identity are the most common effects of the drug on the human brain. High concentrations of THC can lead to schizophrenia in sensitive individuals.
Marijuana abuse problems can and should be prevented. The main method of prevention is notification of potential marijuana users of the negative and dangerous effects of the substance. People, especially underage, should get information about all the negative effects marijuana leads to, so that they understand for sure that short-time relaxation and euphoria are not worth the consequences.