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Marijuana: The Dangers of Long-Term Use

The debate surrounding the use of marijuana continues to rage on, worldwide, as the general public, doctors, and politicians weigh the decision of whether or not to legalize the use of the substance.

While it is still banned in many countries and communities around the world, surveys show that Americans are becoming more willing than ever to remove the stigma and legal consequences of marijuana use, in favor of making it easier for users to purchase, possess, and consume it.

sign reading stop addictionThis greater access to marijuana whether provided through medical or recreational sales is a pathway to long-term use, which in turn can lead to dependence and addiction. Would you be able to recognize if there is a substance abuse issue within yourself or if a loved one needs drug addiction treatment?


Here are some warning signs that may signal a dangerous relationship with marijuana. If you see any of these signs in yourself, a friend or a family member, contact us for advice or to start in one of our many treatment programs.

Signs of Long-Term Marijuana Use

Marijuana use may be on its way to not being a stigma anymore, but that doesn’t mean it’s totally safe for prolonged use. Long-term marijuana use can have major impacts on physical, mental and emotional health. The severity of the negative effects depends on a variety of factors including use method, frequency of use, potency, and dosage to name a few.

People use marijuana, either by smoking it or ingesting through food or drink, for its short-term effects on the brain. The high that is felt occurs when THC enters the bloodstream and is carried to the brain. Receptors there are then overloaded by THC, which leads to the following effects, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse:

  • Altered Senses
  • Altered Sense of Time
  • Mood Swings
  • Impaired Body Movement
  • Impaired Memory
  • Potential for Hallucinations, Delusions, and Psychosis

There are also a number of long-term effects related to brain development, which is especially problematic for younger users. While researchers and scientists continue to study the effects of marijuana on the brain over time, some have the potential to be permanent. For those that begin smoking or ingesting marijuana as a teenager, the drug can have lasting consequences on the brain.

As mentioned previously, the chemical properties found in marijuana can impair memory and thinking ability, as well as parts of the brain that control learning processes. As these parts of the brain continue to be exposed to the drug, the brain can have problems developing as it normally would.

The report on marijuana by the National Institute on Drug Abuse also cites a study by researchers in New Zealand which found that those who started smoking the drug in their teens showed an average loss of 8 IQ points between the ages of 13 and 38.

It is important to note that memory impairment and decreased motor skills do not fully return to normal function once the brain has been affected. In addition to the effects on the brain, there are physical and mental effects that must be watched, including:

  • Trouble Breathing
  • Higher Heart Rate
  • Fetal Development During Pregnancy
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Worsening Symptoms for Patients with Schizophrenia

As you can see, marijuana can have lasting negative results for users over time. The key is determining if long-term marijuana use has become abuse and if drug addiction treatment is necessary for a user.

How Do You Know if There Is a Problem?

Before you can get treatment for drug addiction, you need to know how to be able to spot the signs and symptoms of a problem. To be clear, these symptoms can appear in new users and long-term users, but are more frequent in long-term users. In other words, new and longtime marijuana use can lead into a cycle of addiction, which needs to be addressed before things get worse. Knowing how marijuana affects the brain and leaves visual indicators will allow you to see when marijuana crosses the line into problematic, persistent use.

Some signs that are present in high-frequency users include red bloodshot eyes, a mucus-filled cough, poor coordination, and a slow reaction time. Persistent marijuana use can lead to addictive behavior, which, in turn, can put someone on the path to abuse. In addition to problems with memory, learning, and coordination, marijuana abuse can cause people to experience an altered, usually depressed, mood and a change in their usual social behavior.

One obstacle that marijuana users face is that they believe it will be easy to quit. In fact, long-term use can make it extremely difficult for a person to stop cold turkey. Instead, they will need the continued support and resources offered by drug addiction treatment specialists in order to regain the control they seek over their lives.

They may experience a number of symptoms that go along with withdrawal, including insomnia, loss of appetite, irritability, and anxiety. If you suspect you or a loved one has a problem with marijuana use, find the support needed to get back on track.

Drug Addiction Treatment and Support Services

In order to address issues of marijuana abuse, it is critical to work with an organization that specializes in patient-centric treatment. RECO Intensive, located in Delray Beach, Florida, uses a model that includes intensive outpatient treatment to guide patients along the path to sobriety. This is done by emphasizing a highly integrative approach that is innovative, experimental, and customized to each patient’s needs.

The holistic, specialized treatment and recovery plans found at RECO put patients first and foster a nurturing and caring environment that patients need to best focus on their sobriety. In addition to intensive outpatient programs, RECO also offers marijuana detox, sober living, residential care, aftercare, and partial hospitalization options for patients wanting to overcome marijuana abuse.

RECO understands that there is not a one-size-fits-all solution that applies to all patients. This is why programs incorporate industry-best practices and meet the highest standards of both medical and drug addiction treatment professionals, as well as patients and their loved ones.

To learn more about how to recognize marijuana dependency, marijuana addiction and problematic long-term marijuana use, you can speak with a member of the RECO staff directly. Contact a representative today by calling (855) 799-1035.


  1. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana
  2. https://easyread.drugabuse.gov/content/signs-marijuana-use-and-addiction

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