Cannabis has been a part of many cultures for centuries. From its medicinal properties to recreational use, cannabis is an important plant that has evolved in our society over the years. As attitudes have changed about the legality and benefits of cannabis, so too have people’s views on it as a whole. This blog post seeks to break down some common misconceptions about how cannabis affects you physically and psychologically.
Many people think of cannabis as a drug because it is an organic substance that has psychoactive effects. It is categorized as such because it contains many compounds that can be used therapeutically or recreationally and possess the ability to alter your brain function and chemistry. Cannabis also carries some risks for those who use it, one being long-term cognitive impairment.
The first step to breaking down this stigma around cannabis requires us to look at the science behind how it works and what effect smoking pot has on you physically and mentally. A common misconception about cannabis is that it does not have any medical benefits. While there are likely to be more benefits than harms in most health conditions, users of cannabis will experience a net benefit or harm depending on the condition they are trying to treat with medicinal cannabis (other treatments may be available). There is some evidence for medicinal applications, including relieving chronic pain, nausea induced by chemotherapy, spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis, and its use as an analgesic, anticonvulsant, antiemetic, appetite stimulant, and glaucoma therapy.
Another misconception about cannabis is that it affects your memory. Memory performance can be affected in a number of ways by cannabis use, depending on the amount of cannabis used, the age when it started being used, and taking into account previous personal or family history with mental health or other problems such as schizophrenia. Memory impairment from cannabis use generally only occurs while someone is under the effects of marijuana. Studies show that long-term heavy users have impaired memory, but this may resolve over time after quitting marijuana smoking. In terms of cognitive development in adolescence, regular users show greater deficits than non-users even if they abstain for one month, suggesting that early exposure to cannabinoids interferes with normal brain development.
Cannabis can also have several mental health effects, most commonly anxiety and depression. The link between cannabis use and psychosis is still not fully understood. Still, it is suggested that heavy users with a pre-existing genetic vulnerability are at greater risk of developing psychotic symptoms. However, the THC in cannabis has been shown to help relieve some symptoms in patients with schizophrenia by mediating dopamine release, although there may be adverse cognitive consequences from long-term use in vulnerable populations.
In terms of addiction, chronic heavy users seeking treatment will often need to undergo detoxification before pursuing substance abuse treatment due to physical withdrawal symptoms, which can include irritability, stomach pain, insomnia, nausea, and craving for cannabis during a period of 24–48 hours after last use. Cannabis withdrawal is also often accompanied by anxiety and drug craving, making it hard to quit on your own, requiring professional treatment for a successful recovery from addiction.
While there are likely some physical and psychological benefits to using cannabis, at this point in time, the only way to be sure of the risks or benefits for you personally is to consult with a medical professional or coach specializing in substance abuse treatment. This way, you can determine if it will help your condition, have more harmful effects than good ones, and what type of treatment program would suit you best. However, no matter how many studies come out about marijuana’s effect on our bodies, we cannot be certain of its safety until more research is done into the long-term effects of THC.
In conclusion, the physical and mental effects of cannabis on humans are not fully understood. Still, it can help alleviate chronic pain, nausea induced by chemotherapy, spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis, and its use as an analgesic, anticonvulsant, antiemetic, appetite stimulant, and glaucoma therapy. This information should only act as a source of education for you to analyze your own situation more carefully before using marijuana medicinally or recreationally.