Muir Wood therapist, David Laing

Short- and Long-Term Effects of Marijuana Use

Marijuana works by attaching to the cannabinoid receptors in different parts of the brain – namely, the cerebral cortex, the basal ganglia, the cerebellum and the hippocampus. In the short-term, this can negatively impact your child’s ability to learn and retain new knowledge at school, make positive social choices, and if allowed to continue, it can negatively impact the rest of their lives.

In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says that teens who start smoking marijuana and continue that use into adulthood have a significant drop in their IQ even if they quit using the drug.

Far from harmless, Don’t wait to address the problem. Contact us at Muir Wood today.

Short-Term Effects of Marijuana Use

Though the desired short-term effect of marijuana use is to get high or feel a sense of relaxation, the drug does much more than that. It impacts almost every level of functioning in the user and slows them down so they are less able to manage their responsibilities.

Marijuana can have the following short-term effects on users:

  • Negatively impacts memory, perception and judgment
  • Increases chances of impulsive, risky behavior (e.g., unprotected sex, trying other drugs, etc.)
  • Makes it more difficult to drive and limits motor function and coordination
  • Increases the heart rate – in some cases to double its normal beats per minute
  • Causes inaccurate interpretation of time and space
  • Increases appetite
  • Creates difficulty problem solving

Additionally, the following can occur when large doses of the drug are taken:

  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Intense anxiety attacks
  • Severe depression
  • Delusions

When used in combination with other illicit substances including alcohol, marijuana can produce even more unexpected effects as well, making it all the more risky and difficult to predict.

Long-Term Effects of Marijuana Abuse

When marijuana abuse continues during the teen years, into the college years and beyond, it can add up to a slew of chronic issues – some are deadly and all are life-changing. These can include:

  • Respiratory issues. Problems breathing can build up over time if the drug is smoked. Coughing and wheezing are also often issues.
  • Lowered mental functionality. Memory, learning ability, and processing are impaired.
  • Decreased fertility. Men suffer from lower levels of testosterone and low sperm count.
  • Compromised immune system. Cells and tissue that protect against the development of disease are damaged by the use of marijuana.
  • Increased risk of cancer. The same chemicals that contribute to the development of cancer found in tobacco smoke are also found in marijuana.

In the journal Psychological Medicine, it was also reported that those who used marijuana for the long-term reported lower qualities of life as compared to peers.

Treating Marijuana Abuse and Addiction

A report published in the journal Current Drug Abuse Reviews looked at a number of different studies on teen marijuana use and concluded that the use of the drug by teenagers has far more negative effects than the use of the drug by adults. For this reason and more, it is recommended that parents:

  • Never ignore marijuana use by their teen or write it off as harmless.
  • Immediately act when marijuana use and abuse is identified in their teen.
  • Choose teen-specific drug rehab services to help their teen overcome the problem.

At Muir Wood, we not only provide treatment only to patients under the age of 18 but all our outpatient and inpatient residents are male. If your teenage son is struggling with marijuana abuse and other drug-related issues, we can help him to get back on track. Learn more about our unique program here in Northern California when you download an application packet.