Happy New Year!
Forty-five percent of Americans will make at least one New Year’s resolution this month. Most of these resolutions are usually related to health, weight loss, finance, or relationships. If you are one of the 4.3% of college students who smokes marijuana on a daily basis, reducing the amount of weed you use may be one of your goals for 2020.
Is weed good or bad for you?
Many students are confused about marijuana. There are a lot of mixed messages in everything from social media to peer-reviewed scientific research. On one hand, some say marijuana is not a drug to be concerned about, that it is “green”, all natural, and not a health concern. On the other hand, some say cannabis causes brain damage and using it will kill you. What we know about marijuana lies somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. There is new and exciting research examining marijuana as a treatment for opioid use reduction, seizures, and pain relief. However, these promising findings do not mitigate many of the negative consequences of use, including breathing problems, increased heart rate, memory problems, decreased motivation, poorer mental health, lower life satisfaction, and increased relationship problems.
How does the weed make you feel high?
Marijuana refers to the dried leaves, flowers, and stems from the plant Cannabis sativa. It contains the chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other related compounds. THC acts on brain cell receptors called cannabinoid receptors. Two other chemicals, Anandamide and 2-AG (2-arachidonoyl glycerol) also act on CB receptors. These chemicals (called cannabinoids), along with their receptors, make up the endocannabinoid (EC) system. Marijuana over-activates parts of the brain that the EC system is a part of. This causes the “high” that users feel. The EC is found in many parts of the brain, and is finely tuned to react appropriately to incoming information. But THC overwhelms the EC system by preventing the natural chemicals from doing their job properly. This throws the whole system off balance, and affects many different bodily functions.
Smoke it, Vape it, Eat it, or Lather it on my Skin… Is it all the Same?
People use marijuana by smoking it in joints (blunts or pipes), by smoking it in water pipes (bongs), by vaporizing it (so as to avoid inhaling smoke), by eating it mixed into items such as brownies, cookies, candies or tea (edibles), and by applying it topically to the skin via a lotion (topicals). People can also use resins that are extracted from the cannabis plant. These resins usually take three forms: oils (a very gooey liquid) wax or budder (a soft solid), or shatter (a hard, amber colored solid). These resins contain very high amounts of THC and their use has sent many to the emergency room with a condition called Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS). CHS occurs when the body has a toxic reaction to marijuana, and is marked by bouts of extreme nausea and excessive repeated vomiting.
Can I become Addicted to Weed?
There are physical withdrawal symptoms that might be experienced when stopping daily marijuana use. These can include insomnia, fatigue, nausea, irritability, dizziness, anxiety, nightmares, diarrhea, and what feels like a small electrical shock to the brain, called “brain zaps”. However, most addiction specialists agree that the worst part of withdrawing from daily marijuana use is psychological struggles. Being high from weed allows the user to escape reality; to numb oneself from things such as stress, social anxiety, and maybe even to help cope from overwhelming emotions. If you have used marijuana daily for 3 or more consecutive months, it is recommended that you seek the support of a counselor to help you manage your symptoms.
How do I Quit Using?
The most important thing you need to stop using marijuana is a DESIRE TO QUIT. Sometimes you may feel ambivalent about this, wanting to quit one moment, and not so sure about quitting the next. This is normal and does not mean you are a failure. People who have successfully stopped using frequently state that setting realistic goals, limiting time spent with friends or family who smoke weed, reducing the amount of money they allow themselves to spend on weed, and getting rid of all of their marijuana paraphernalia (such as bongs and fancy vaporizers) helped them to kick the habit. Talking to a counselor or a support group can also be very helpful.
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), located on the fifth floor of the Student Center, offers free and confidential substance use evaluations and counseling services to currently registered WSU students.
CAPS will also be offering Marijuana Cessation Support Group this semester. If you are interested in this group, please contact Amy Graham or Patricia Dixon at CAPS at 313-577-3398 or email us at CAPS@Wayne.edu.