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Addiction – Marijuana: What’s the “Real Cost”?

Addictions; brain health; heart and lung health; mental health; poisoning; short-term and long-term effects

Addictions destroy budgets and oh so much more. There are a lot of things in this world that can get you addicted. Could you stop if you wanted to? So, you can’t stop? Tunabudget believes there are solutions. Maybe the first step, if there is an addiction, would be an acknowledgment that there is an addiction problem. As most people will admit, unresolved addictions may not only destroy your life, they may destroy the family unit too – as it often does. You likely already know this. Regardless, seriously consider the following facts from 2016 to 2018:

Sources: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); World Health Organization (WHO)



About 1 in 10 marijuana users will become addicted. For people who begin using before the age of 18, that number rises to 1 in 6

Some of the signs that someone might be addicted include:

  • Unsuccessful efforts to quit using marijuana

  • Giving up important activities with friends and family in favor of using marijuana

  • Using marijuana even when it is known that it causes problems fulfilling everyday jobs at home, school or work

The amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana (i.e., marijuana potency or strength) has increased over the past few decades; the higher the THC content, the stronger the effects on the brain

Some methods of using marijuana (e.g., dabbing, edibles) may deliver very high levels of THC to the user

Brain Health

  • Marijuana use directly affects the brain — specifically the parts of the brain responsible for memory, learning, attention, decision making, coordination, emotions, and reaction time

  • Heavy users of marijuana can have short-term problems with attention, memory, and learning, which can affect relationships and mood

  • Marijuana also affects brain development; when marijuana users begin using as teenagers, the drug may reduce attention, memory, and learning functions and affect how the brain builds connections between the areas necessary for these functions

  • Marijuana’s effects on these abilities may last a long time or even be permanent; this means that someone who uses marijuana may not do as well in school and may have trouble remembering things

  • The impact depends on many factors and is different for each person; it also depends on the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana (i.e., marijuana potency or strength), how often it is used, the age of first use, and whether other substances (e.g., tobacco and alcohol) are used at the same time

  • Developing brains, like those in babies, children, and teenagers are especially susceptible to the hurtful effects of marijuana; although scientists are still learning about these effects of marijuana on the developing brain, studies show that marijuana use by mothers during pregnancy may be linked to problems with attention, memory, problem-solving skills, and behavior problems in their children

Heart and Lung Health

  • Using marijuana makes the heart beat faster; it could also lead to increased risk of stroke and heart disease

  • Smoked marijuana, in any form, can harm lung tissues and cause scarring and damage to small blood vessels

  • Smoke from marijuana contains many of the same toxins, irritants, and carcinogens as tobacco smoke

  • Smoking marijuana can also lead to a greater risk of bronchitis, cough, and phlegm production

Mental Health

  • Marijuana use, especially frequent (daily or near daily) use and use in high doses, can cause disorientation, and sometimes cause unpleasant thoughts or feelings of anxiety and paranoia

  • Marijuana users are significantly more likely than nonusers to develop temporary psychosis (not knowing what is real, hallucinations and paranoia) and long-lasting mental disorders, including schizophrenia (a type of mental illness where people might see or hear things that aren’t really there)

  • Marijuana use has also been linked to depression and anxiety, and suicide among teens; however, it is not known whether this is a causal relationship or simply an association.


  • Edibles, or food and drink products infused with marijuana and eaten, have some different risks than smoking marijuana, including a greater risk of poisoning. Unlike smoked marijuana, edibles can:

  • Take from 30 minutes to 2 hours to take effect. So, some people eat too much, which can lead to poisoning and/or serious injury

  • Cause effects that last longer than expected depending on the amount, the last food eaten, and medications or alcohol used at the same time

  • Be very difficult to measure. The amount of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, is very difficult to measure and is often unknown in edible products. Many users can be caught off-guard by the strength and long-lasting effects of edibles

  • Marijuana affects children differently than adults; since marijuana has become legal in some states, children have accidentally eaten marijuana products that looked like candy and treats, which made them sick enough to need emergency medical care

Short-Term and Long-Term Effects

The most obvious short-term health effect of cannabis is intoxication marked by disturbances in the level of consciousness, cognition, perception, affect or behavior, and other psychophysiological functions and responses:

  • A minority of first-time cannabis users become very anxious, have panic attacks, experience hallucinations and vomit

  • These symptoms may be sufficiently distressing to prompt affected users to seek medical care

  • Acute use impairs driving and contributes to an increased risk of traffic injuries

  • There is some evidence that cannabis use can trigger coronary events

Regular cannabis users can develop dependence on the drug:

  • The risk may be around 1 in 10 among those who ever use cannabis, 1 in 6 among adolescent users, and 1 in 3 among daily users

  • Withdrawal syndrome is well documented in cannabis dependence

  • Growing evidence reveals that regular, heavy cannabis use during adolescence is associated with more severe and persistent negative outcomes than use during adulthood

  • In a number of prospective studies there is a consistent dose−response relationship between cannabis use in adolescence and the risk of developing psychotic symptoms or schizophrenia


  • Is there anyone in your life that you could possibly reach out to, and humbly approach for guidance, love, and hope?

  • Is there an organization that offers assistance at a cost that you can afford in order to get help?

  • How far and at what cost have your addictions taken you?

  • What have you already lost, and what do you stand to lose?

  • Are you earnestly seeking and desiring to get your addictions behind you once and for all?

  • What are you willing to give to sacrifice to change, and how best should that change take place?

  • Do you really know what you need to do, but are just too chained to the addiction?

  • Are you addicted?

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