09 Jul The 7 Perils of Marijuana Maintenance
Getting sober is a huge accomplishment for anyone who has regularly used alcohol or other drugs. Living life without chemicals to calm you down or cheer you up can sometimes be overwhelming or stressful, and some people continue to use marijuana as a substitute for alcohol or other mind-altering chemicals. Those who are sober except for the use of marijuana are said to be on the “marijuana maintenance program.”
To some, it seems harmless enough. If you’ve been addicted to meth, cocaine or heroin, marijuana may seem like a huge step down and a whole lot less dangerous. Many believe that pot is even less dangerous than alcohol. After all, if all you do is smoke a joint here or there, you’re probably a lot less aggressive than you used to be. No more driving recklessly or picking fights. In fact, you may have trouble even wanting to get off the couch.
Marijuana isn’t as harmless as it seems. There are both physical and psychological perils to using the marijuana maintenance program.
Marijuana may cause long-term health problems. Smoking marijuana is as damaging to the lungs as smoking cigarettes, possibly more so. Pot smokers may have a chronic cough or increased risk of lung illnesses or chest infections. Those who smoke both pot and cigarettes increase their risk of developing cancers of the head and throat. Under the influence of marijuana, the heart begins to beat more rapidly and this can lead to an increased risk of a heart attack. The immune system may also be damaged, leading to a lowered ability to fight off disease.
Marijuana may cause or aggravate mental health problems. High doses of marijuana can cause disturbed thoughts and perceptions including hallucinations and delusions, and this drug can also worsen symptoms of existing mental health disorders. Obsessive use of this chemical can lead to paranoia, depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. There is controversy about whether marijuana causes mental health problems or is simply being used by people who are attempting to self-medicate mental health problems that haven’t yet been diagnosed.
Marijuana can cause memory problems and thinking problems. This is a chemical that distorts your thinking and your ability to remember or solve problems. Frequent and heavy use of marijuana can cause damage to thinking and memory that may be permanent. It appears that the longer you use marijuana, the greater the damage that is being done to your cognitive abilities, including your ability to make decisions. You will have difficulty concentrating and may become withdrawn or unable to motivate yourself to do anything, and you may struggle to remember things.
Marijuana causes coordination problems. Coordination problems can lead to increased risk of accidents or injuries from falls. Driving while under the influence of marijuana is dangerous due to the drug’s effect on coordination.
Marijuana is psychologically addicting. Many people don’t take the use and abuse of marijuana seriously because it isn’t physically addicting. But addiction is defined as compulsive use of a substance and obsession with it. If you’ve been depending on marijuana to cope with stress, you may find that the thought of giving it up causes you to feel a sense of extreme panic.
The use of marijuana is an addictive behavior. To continue to use marijuana is to continue to participate in addictive behavior. There’s a good chance marijuana will eventually lead you back to your drug of choice, whether that’s alcohol or cocaine. As long as you are participating in addictive behavior, you are not in charge of your own life.
Marijuana use deprives you of feeling the joy of true sober living. Although marijuana is probably less dangerous than hard drugs like crystal meth or heroin, it’s still a mind-altering chemical that can cause both physical and psychological problems. Its effects are less dramatic than some other drugs, but the perils are still there. The marijuana maintenance program isn’t really sobriety. Give yourself a chance to learn to lead a sober life free of all chemicals, including marijuana. A life free of chemicals contains many natural highs that you won’t experience as long as you continue to use marijuana.
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