Long-Term Effects of Weed Use

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What are the long-term effects of weed? This question is quite common, especially since rapid legalization of this drug has begun in the US. Colorado and Washington legalized recreational usage of marijuana in 2012. In the almost decade since then, a total of 18 states plus Washington, D.C. allow marijuana to be sold to adults age 21 and over in licensed dispensaries. Many more states are expected to follow suit. 

Acceptance of marijuana smoking and products has come a long way in the past few generations. What has not changed is the misconceptions many have about it. This includes the idea that marijuana usage has little to no downside. If you are wondering what are the long-term effects of weed use, we have some answers. 

Can You Become Addicted to Marijuana?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in ten people who smoke pot will become addicted. When a person begins usage under age 18, one in six develops an addiction. The CDC report also states that approximately 22 million people smoke pot each month. This makes it the most commonly used narcotic in the country.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that 3 out of 10 people who smoke pot develop a marijuana use disorder. Youthful beginnings come into play again with these statistics. Those who begin smoking pot under the age of 18 are four to seven times more likely to end up with a marijuana use disorder. 

long-term effects of weed use

Addiction to marijuana shares a similarity to that of other drugs. Constant and heavy usage builds a reliance in the brain. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the active ingredient in marijuana. It mimics the endocannabinoids naturally produced by the human brain. The brain begins to rely on THC for this purpose. As with all drugs, when withdrawal symptoms take place, an individual often begins using the drug again in order to avoid them. 

Studies conducted to answer the question of what are the long-term effects of weed use sometimes cause debate. Many people rely on a strict definition of addiction, as it relates to drugs like heroin or cocaine. What they may leave out concerns the fact that a person can be dependent on marijuana without being physically addicted. Even in these cases, many people find it difficult or impossible to stop smoking pot. They require professional treatment programs to help them stop their dependence on marijuana and recover from it. 

What Are The Short-Term Effects of Weed Use?

The consequences of smoking marijuana are typically experienced within minutes and can persist for several hours. Common effects include a faster heart rate, dry mouth, red eyes, difficulty with memory and focus, and an enhanced desire for food, sometimes referred to as “the munchies.” In some people, marijuana use may induce nervousness, fear, and even hallucinations. Furthermore, smoking marijuana on a regular basis can cause respiratory problems such as bronchitis or lung infections.

Additionally, marijuana’s impairment of coordination and reaction time can increase the likelihood of accidents or injuries, particularly when someone is driving or using heavy machinery. It is noteworthy that the potency and effects of marijuana can be quite diverse, depending on the strain and how it is ingested.

What Are The Long-Term Effects of Weed Use?

Despite what people may believe, marijuana use carries serious long-term effects. The following are a few of the main physical and psychological issues that arise long-term.

Effects on the Brain

Marijuana usage can cloud a person’s ability to think. Simple tasks may seem more arduous. The long-term effects of weed use include negatively impacting the brain’s ability to learn, make decisions, and react quickly. Oftentimes, short-term memory is affected after smoking marijuana. 

Teenagers and children who smoke weed are especially susceptible to this sort of injurious impact due to their brain being in the still-developing phase. Smoking pot while pregnant can cause developmental problems in babies. Marijuana-related toxins can also be passed to an infant during breastfeeding.

what are the long term effects of weed

Effects on the Lungs and Heart

Constant marijuana usage can affect the lungs and heart. Many pot smokers develop chronic coughs, breathing problems, and cold-like symptoms. People who regularly smoke weed may increase their chances of having an irregular heartbeat, a heart attack, and acute coronary syndrome.

Psychological Effects

The old adage about not operating heavy machinery when using certain medications often applies to smoking weed. Anything from power tools to gardening machinery to driving a car can become dangerous when a person has smoked pot first. The ability to perceive time passage often becomes affected. What feels like a short or lengthy amount of time might actually be the opposite. Long-term use of marijuana may cause an increased risk of psychosis or schizophrenia in some people.

Smoking pot often leaves a person feeling lethargic and sleepy. They also may incur red, bloodshot eyes. A lot of people report feelings of paranoia and anxiety when they smoke marijuana. 

Today’s Marijuana Is More Potent Than Past Kinds

People from the Woodstock generation often say that the marijuana they smoked is not nearly as powerful as what’s available today, and they are correct. Even thirty years ago, the average THC content in pot was less than 4%. As recently as 2018, that number rose to more than 15%. 

Marijuana concentrates may contain even higher levels of THC. Cannabis concentrates are created from microscopic, hairlike compounds called trichomes that cover cannabis plants. Concentrates can be made at home or in a commercial setting. They contain particularly high levels of THC. With higher levels comes an increased risk of dependence and addiction.

Withdrawal Symptoms Can Occur

When answering the question of what are the long-term effects of weed use, the subject of withdrawal symptoms must be addressed. When a person who has smoked weed regularly cuts back significantly or stops usage, the following physical symptoms may occur:

  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Cravings for the drug

Psychological dependence on regular marijuana usage can result in feelings of depression, anxiety, panic, mood swings, and irritability. 

Can You Overdose on Weed?

Yes, it is possible to overdose on marijuana. However, a marijuana overdose is different from an overdose of other drugs in that it is not lethal. The active ingredient in marijuana, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), can cause overstimulation of the brain and central nervous system. Symptoms of a marijuana overdose include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Anxiety or paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Panic attacks
  • Uncontrollable shaking or seizures
  • Coma (in extreme cases)

Although an overdose of marijuana is not fatal, it can still be an unpleasant and alarming ordeal. It is essential to consume marijuana responsibly and to be aware of the possible hazards and side effects. If you or somebody you know is going through the signs of a marijuana overdose, it is important to consult a medical professional right away.

Treatment Options for Marijuana Addiction

Treatment for marijuana addiction can take several forms and is tailored to each individual’s specific wants and needs. The most common treatment options include:

Residential Treatment

Residential treatment necessitates living at a rehabilitation center where the individual is monitored around the clock. This form of therapy is beneficial for those with serious addiction issues who need a controlled and secure atmosphere to fight their addiction. In residential treatment, the patient engages in one-on-one and group counseling sessions, as well as recreational and educational activities.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

Partial hospitalization programs (PHP) provide a less intensive option to inpatient treatment, granting individuals a few hours of therapy and treatment daily and then allowing them to go back to their homes in the evening. This type of care is fitting for people who need a secure and supportive atmosphere but don’t necessitate 24-hour attention.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

Intensive outpatient (IOP) programs are designed for those who need help in their recovery but are not able to commit to a residential or partial hospitalization program. This type of program usually requires a few hours of therapy and treatment each week, so those undergoing treatment can still maintain a job or go to school.

Outpatient Treatment

Treatment on an outpatient basis is the least stringent form of care and usually involves repeated counseling meetings with a therapist or counselor. This form of therapy is optimal for people with a mild to moderate dependency who can stay on track with their regular daily activities while undergoing rehabilitation.

Marijuana Addiction Treatment in Los Angeles

If you have developed a marijuana use disorder, we can help. Launch Centers treats substance use disorders with a combination of clinical and holistic treatment plans. Our long-term programs in Los Angeles offer many options to suit your needs.  Call Launch Centers today to find out how we can help you get your life back on track.

About Our Founder

Jose Hernandez, for over a decade, has been involved in alcohol and addiction recovery helping people succeed in overcoming substance abuse and regaining control of their lives. He has experience in all aspects of the recovery world, from facilitating entry into treatment as an intervention specialist to counseling and case management at rehabilitation facilities. Jose has worked one-on-one with individuals as a sober companion and with groups as a resident counselor at addiction treatment centers and is certified by the California Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (CAADAC) to practice as a substance abuse counselor.

Through his professional experiences in crisis intervention, drug and alcohol detoxification, substance abuse counseling, and relapse prevention, Jose has developed a unique plan for case management that bridges the gap between a person’s painful past of substance abuse and a future of sobriety.

At Riviera Recovery, a sober living facility with multiple locations, clients continue their transition from the supportive environment of a treatment center to living well and happily in the “real” world. The program he designed at Riviera Recovery personalizes treatment plans that enable clients, including those with a single or dual-diagnosed mental health disorder, to embrace a satisfying life.

His greatest endeavor has been establishing LAUNCH, a Los Angeles-based life skills intensive outpatient program for young adults. LAUNCH works with recovering men and women to establish personal vocational and educational goals and develop the tools to successfully meet them. His mission is to ensure that no one stands alone in his or her recovery.

Meet Our Clinical Team

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Jess Beck, LCSW

Clinical Director

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Eric Chaghouri, MD


chloe kruskol los angeles rehab team

Chloe Kruskol, LCSW

Family Program Manager

Our Testimonials

Clients and Professionals Share Their Experience

  • HO

    Launch provided care on multiple levels. The highly skilled therapist coupled with the focus on purpose and long-term goals refocused my recovery from what previous treatment centers pushed onto me. I went from believing that I needed years of treatment to believing I needed years happiness and success. I began to focus on what I wanted to accomplish with my life. I came to realize all the things my addiction and mental illness had taken from me, and I used my future goals as a reason to never pick up again. Due to the passion that Launch instilled in me, I have pursued my future with excitement and dedication.

  • Nicole

    This place changed my life! I’ve had good laughs, good cries, shared a lot of heart to heart moments and grew a loving bond with everyone at Launch Centers. I will always be grateful!!! I really do miss it time to time. I highly recommend Launch Centers!

  • Joey

    The staff and clinicians are amazing and make you feel right at home from the second you walk in the door. I would absolutely recommend this place for a family member or close friend.

  • Ben

    This treatment facility has changed my life. I have always struggled with my mental health and this young adult program provided me with the necessary skills to launch to adulthood. I commend anyone who struggles with mental health or substance use (which was not me) to try this program out. It will change your life.

  • Conner

    Launch Centers Treatment was a major help to me. The therapists and staff genuinely cared about me and truly helped me to make a plan for my future. My personal therapists helped me to discover where some of my deeper issues came from. All of the staff worked tirelessly with me to talk through my issues, or just about life, and offered realistic solutions to my current problems and situation. All of the staff went above and beyond and advocated relentlessly for me. I am very grateful that I was able to have such a wonderful experience with Launch.

  • Adam

    In no uncertain terms Launch Centers changed my life. The staff at Launch are professional, knowledgable and relatable. They keep the format diverse and interesting which kept me engaged in the process. The greatest thing we can do in life is seek to improve ourselves. Launch gave me a skill set I consider to be invaluable in the journey of becoming the best version of myself. I would implore anybody considering Launch to step outside their comfort zone and go, you will not regret it.


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