Understanding Marijuana Abuse

You may think of marijuana as a harmless drug. But marijuana can cause many health problems. And it may affect how well you learn, think, and remember. If you or a loved one has a problem with marijuana, tell someone you trust. That is the first step in getting help.

Someone preparing a cannabis cigarette.

What is marijuana?

Marijuana is a mixture of dried flowers and leaves from the hemp plant. Sinsemilla, hashish, and hash oil are stronger forms. Most users smoke marijuana. But sometimes, it’s made into tea or added to food. The most active part of marijuana is a chemical called THC. How strong the drug is depends on the amount of THC.

What are its effects?

How marijuana affects you depends on many factors. These include the strength of the drug, the setting, and your feelings about it. Some people may use marijuana and feel nothing. Others might feel relaxed and giggly. Time might seem to move slowly. And sights, sounds, and colors may appear more intense.

What are the risks?

Marijuana contains many of the same toxic chemicals as tobacco. But you may inhale even more of them. As a result, long-term use may cause breathing problems. It may also lead to chest colds and diseases such as pneumonia. Marijuana weakens your immune system so that you’re more likely to get sick. Heavy marijuana use may make it harder to focus your mind. You may not learn as quickly. And you may forget what you’ve learned. You may develop mental problems. Some users may also develop a strong physical and emotional need for the drug (dependency).

How is marijuana abuse treated?

Most often, treatment involves therapy and support systems. Newer programs may focus on helping you stick with treatment. Your health care provider can help you learn more. Check your phone book, or the Internet, for mental health clinics or drug treatment programs. It’s not always easy to stop using marijuana. Many of your friends may still use the drug. Even members of your own family may smoke marijuana. But if you want to quit, you can succeed.


Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Helpline  800-662-HELP (800-662-4357) 

National Institute on Drug Abuse www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse 

Marijuana Anonymous World Services  800-766-6799  www.marijuana-anonymous.org  


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