How Does Marijuana Work?

Marijuana effects the brain and body in different ways, depending on the individual person. Some of the effects can change the way the brain functions over time due to chronic use. Learn how marijuana works and how prolonged use can impact the brain and body over time.

How Marijuana Works

When marijuana is smoked or ingested, THC moves through the bloodstream to the brain. THC acts on specific sites in the brain called cannabinoid receptors. Most cannabinoid receptors are found in parts of the brain which influence pleasure, concentration, memory and sensory/time perception. A ‘high’ is then created, including symptoms of altered senses and relaxation in the body. Marijuana can increase a person’s heart rate, raising the risk of a heart attack. Smoke from marijuana may also irritate the lungs and cause some respiratory issues.

Brain and Body

Marijuana affects the central nervous system and may create a variety of effects, including

  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Distorted perceptions
  • Euphoric feelings
  • Hallucinations
  • Loss of motor control
  • Memory loss
  • Paranoia
  • Relaxation

Nausea and depression are common ailments treated with marijuana including pain control. Marijuana is legal in some states for medicinal purposes although some controversy surrounds its potential benefits. Like many narcotics, marijuana has addictive properties and should only be used under the direction of a physician. Research shows marijuana is most promising as a treatment for chronic conditions such as cancer or AIDS. Questions exist about whether marijuana is harmful to people with underlying mental health issues.

Effects of Marijuana

Typically, the effects of marijuana last 1-2 hours when smoked. Ingestion of marijuana may be more mild but last longer. Marijuana may stay in the system for much longer than effects it gives a person and can be detected in drug screens for days or weeks following use. THC has a long half life which means it may be stored in fat cells. Chronic ingestions of marijuana increases the length of time THC remains in the system (sometimes weeks).

Does Marijuana Help Everyone

Marijuana will not have the same effects for everyone. Some people may not get high or feel pleasant effects of marijuana. People with a history of drug abuse and addiction may not be able to use marijuana casually. People who become addicted to marijuana typically start out this way. Addiction to marijuana may not be as obvious as other narcotic addictions but signs of addiction will show up, depending on the individual person’s usage patterns. Marijuana can stay in the system for weeks which makes it risky to use while at a workplace which drug tests. How a person uses marijuana (recreational versus medicinal) can vary the complications or side effects. However, if a person notices usage has increased or it is harder to stop using the drug, it may be time to seek help for potential dependence or addiction.

Addiction to marijuana can have long lasting repercussions for an individual’s personal and social life. If you or a loved one struggle to quit using marijuana, it may be time to seek help. The Villa provides support for the journey of recovery. Call us to get started.