Marijuana is a mixture of dried stems, seeds, leaves and flowers of hemp plants. It may sound harmless enough, but marijuana actually has multiple chemicals in it, most notably a chemical called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, known as THC. Marijuana is commonly referred to as “The Gateway Drug”. This is because of the marijuana users who go on to use harder and even more dangerous drugs. Studies show that children who smoke marijuana under the age of 14 are more than five times likely to go on to abuse drugs as adults than those who do not use marijuana. Not every marijuana user will go on to abuse harder drugs, but as tolerance builds up, many will go on to stronger drugs to achieve the same high and to escape the reality that they used marijuana to escape in the first place.
Street Names for Marijuana
Marijuana is one of the most commonly abused drugs, following closely behind alcohol and cigarettes. It is known by many slang terms including: “pot”, “reefer”, “grass”, “ganja”, “Mary Jane”, “herb”, “chronic”, and “weed”.
The Gateway Drug
Besides being the gateway drug to harder and dangerous drugs, marijuana has its own set of health related dangers and effects. Some short-term effects of marijuana use include: impaired memory and learning ability, impaired judgments leading to risky behavior such as unprotected sex, difficulties thinking and problem solving, anxiety attacks, paranoia, impaired driving, increased heart rate, and high blood pressure. Some long-term dangers of marijuana use include adverse effect on mental health from THC, suppression of hormones that regulate the reproductive system, respiratory problems, depression, anxiety, and suppressed immune system.
Contrary to popular belief that marijuana is not addictive, those who use it are also subject to developing an addiction. About 9 percent of people who use marijuana go on to become dependent on it. Because marijuana increases dopamine leading to increased feelings of pleasure, users may feel the urge to repeat usage to experience these feelings. Repeated use of marijuana, like all drugs, can lead to an addiction.
It is important for parents to educate their children about the dangers and effects of marijuana use, as well as educating themselves. For those who believe they or their loved one may be battling a marijuana addiction, it is important to seek professional addiction treatment to ensure a lasting recovery and prevention from an even more dangerous drug addiction.
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