Marijuana use has always been a topic of debate, even with the legalization of it in some states. It is estimated that 78 million people have used marijuana in their lifetime – 55 million of those in the past year.
Called a ‘gateway drug,’ the largest concern about marijuana use is the potential for addiction, the impact on health and mental health, and the side effects of use. Many don’t understand the different ways that weed can affect the body – making it crucial to determine if weed is a depressant and how it can impact overall mental health.
What is Weed?
Cannabis, called marijuana, weed, or a long assortment of slang names, is a psychoactive drug derived from the cannabis sativa plant, which contains over 100 different types of cannabinoids. The primary psychoactive component of weed is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is a hallucinogen and mind-altering cannabinoid. Most cannabis users smoke it, but some users enjoy edibles and drinks containing cannabis, cannabidiol (CBD), or THC.
Is Weed a Depressant?
Weed can have a multi-layered effect on the human body, acting as a depressant, stimulant, and hallucinogenic. So, to say that weed is a depressant is false – there are three ways that weed can impact the mind and body.
- Depressant Effects – Some individuals experience the depressant effects of weed, which include relaxation, decreased anxiety, and sedation. These effects are similar to those produced by substances like alcohol or benzodiazepines. Users often report feeling mellow and calm after consuming marijuana, which aligns with the characteristics of depressants.
- Stimulant Effects – Certain weed strains can create a sense of alertness, increased energy, and heightened creativity. These stimulating effects can be attributed to other cannabinoids and terpenes present in marijuana, not just THC. For instance, cannabidiol (CBD) can counteract some of the sedative effects of THC, promoting alertness.
- Hallucinogenic Effects –Users may experience altered perceptions, enhanced sensory experiences, and changes in thought patterns. While not as intense as classic hallucinogens like LSD, some liken the effects of marijuana to a mild form of hallucinogenic experience.
It’s important to note that individual responses to weed vary significantly. Factors such as the strain used, the method of consumption, dosage, and an individual’s tolerance level all contribute to the effects people experience when using marijuana.
Weed’s Impact on Mental Health
Since individual responses to weed can vary, the impact that it has on mental health can vary from person to person. Some individuals may report positive effects from using weed, while others may experience heightened levels of depression and anxiety. Some of the common mental health effects of weed include:
- Anxiety and Paranoia – Weed can induce or exacerbate anxiety and paranoia in some individuals. This effect is more likely to occur with high-THC strains or in users with a predisposition to anxiety disorders. The heightened perception and altered thought patterns associated with marijuana can intensify anxious feelings.
- Depression – While some users find relief from symptoms of depression when using marijuana, others may experience worsened depressive symptoms. The relationship between weed and depression is not straightforward, and it may depend on the individual’s unique biochemistry and the specific strains and dosages consumed.
- Psychosis – In rare cases, marijuana use has been associated with episodes of psychosis characterized by hallucinations, delusions, and impaired thinking. Individuals with a history of psychosis or a family history of psychotic disorders may be more susceptible to these effects.
- Addiction – Weed can be psychologically addictive for some users. Frequent and heavy use can lead to a dependence on marijuana, with users experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, insomnia, and cravings when attempting to quit.
Marijuana Addiction and Mental Health
Marijuana addiction, also known as cannabis use disorder, is a huge concern in relation to mental health. Individuals struggling with marijuana addiction often experience a range of mental health issues, including increased anxiety, depression, and mood swings.
Long-term use can impair cognitive functions, memory, and attention span, affecting one’s ability to perform daily tasks and make informed decisions. Withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, insomnia, and loss of appetite can impair mental health challenges.
Marijuana addiction can also contribute to a cycle of substance abuse, leading individuals to seek relief from their mental distress through continued marijuana use. This can increase dependency, addiction, and mental health problems.
Overcoming Marijuana Addiction and Improving Mental Health
Marijuana addiction can be hard to overcome, and without proper treatment and support, many individuals relapse – further impacting their mental health. Overcoming addiction requires acknowledging addiction and the negative impact it has on your life. Next, seeking professional help, like counseling or therapy, is essential for creating positive coping strategies and addressing underlying issues.
Through the help of an addiction treatment center, individuals who have a marijuana addiction can begin establishing healthy routines, engaging in physical activities, and adopting stress-reduction techniques like meditation or mindfulness to aid in their recovery. Many of the techniques used for overcoming addiction can also treat mental health conditions, which are often underlying cases of addiction.
Is Weed a Depressant in Your Life?
Marijuana use and mental health have a unique relationship – individuals may experience effects that exasperate feelings of depression, anxiety, and increase the effects of pre-existing mental health conditions. If marijuana addiction is present, it may make the symptoms experienced even worse and should not be tackled alone.
Riviera Recovery understands the challenges that young adults face when dealing with marijuana use, addiction, and mental health conditions. Our support staff understands that weed can be a depressant, stimulant, and hallucinogenic – creating challenges that make addiction recovery tough.
Riviera Recovery is dedicated to creating the safe space needed to overcome the effects of marijuana. If you or someone you love is struggling with the effects of marijuana use and the impact it has on mental health, reach out today to find out what options are available.