Marijuana Addiction – How it Affects Your Health
Marijuana is the third most common drug used by young adults. Tobacco and alcohol rank the first and the second respectively. Light users smoke it once per week or less; a heavy user smokes it two or more times per week.
The negative effects of marijuana use vary with the amount used and the frequency of use. The list of marijuana’s ill effects is extremely long. Common short-term problems include irritation of the eyes, nose and lungs; decreased memory, coordination, and ability to learn; and, for some people, emotional effects such as depression or panic. A very serious effect is that hours after the high is gone, one’s ability to drive is still badly impaired. Obviously, this can be extremely dangerous.
Consistent heavy use can also interfere with your body’s ability to fight infection, although this effect appears to resolve once you stop using it. Long-term effects can persist as long as the abuse continues. These include poorer performance on tests that measure learning and thinking, loss of motivation, and chronically irritated lining of the lungs.
Risk of lung cancer increases for long term marijuana smokers even more than it does for those who smoke cigarettes. The cancer causing agents are 70 percent more concentrated in marijuana than in tobacco.
Marijuana is not known to affect a woman’s ability to bear children or to damage her chromosomes or genes. This is, however, evidence that smoking five or more joints per week during pregnancy may cause subtle changes in a baby’s nervous system. The effects are suggested by the baby’s tendency to startle when tested shortly after birth. These babies also tend to be smaller than those born to non-marijuana users.
Heavy users who are male, however, do show changes in their reproductive systems, although these effects resolve approximately one month after stopping smoking. The changes include decreased size of the testicles and decreased production of normal sperm.