Taking the High Road with Marijuana
by Amy Boyington
No matter what the medication, whether antidepressant, anxiolytic, mood stabilizers and/or sleep aids, there are always some forms of side effects. There is also the chance you can have weak tolerance and even an allergic reaction.
Your tolerance can lead to higher doses. This can also cause habits to form. The same goes for marijuana.
The truth is, marijuana may have a higher risk of becoming habit forming due to less regulation and lack of education.
If you plan on using marijuana for any medical reasons, you need to consider creating healthy habits and staying informed. The most important thing to remember is; marijuana should only be used for positive reasons that exhibit positive reactions. Its use should also be carefully monitored to keep track of any changes, both good and bad, in dose, timing, and health.
Moreover, research is starting to stack up in favor of medical marijuana as a successful treatment for well over a dozen severe medical conditions. Those benefits, however, still come with a handful of risks and it’s important to be mindful of these risks.
The Risks and Side Effects of Marijuana
The research suggests that occasional use by adults is not particularly risky if used responsibly. The most significant health risks of marijuana come from making poor choices like operating machinery while under the influence, improper dosing, and smoking instead of gentler alternatives. Most of these risks can be minimized or avoided altogether.
The biggest risk for the occasional, adult marijuana user is the risk of substance abuse. While many think the drug is not “addictive,” the numbers say that as many as 1 in 10 users will develop a chronic use pattern.
In all but the most extreme cases, the recent research has shown that children, teenagers, and young adults should avoid marijuana. Smoking pot during these formative years as few as five times can double their chances of developing psychosis to a 1 in 5 chance. Young, chronic users may be six times more likely to suffer from similar conditions. And these aren’t the only groups at higher than average risk.
Could You Be at a Higher Risk for Substance Abuse?
Statistically, people diagnosed with a mental health issue are more likely to suffer from a substance abuse problem. That statistic could be for a number of reasons. It’s likely that the increased risk is due to self-medication practices.
Other groups at higher risk include those genetically predisposed to have a higher sensitivity to the active chemicals in marijuana. Those that are frequently exposed to recreational marijuana may be more likely to become habitual users as well. People with a history of addiction are also at higher risk.
Tips to Keep Your Usage Under Control
As it states above, anyone suffering from a mental health problem is at a higher risk of becoming a habitual marijuana user and experiencing some of the more severe side effects. That risk can become even more significant at stressful times of the year.
Whether it’s the height of holiday shopping and travel or just another day at the office, stress can get to anyone. Keeping the following tips in mind can help curb any physical or emotional cravings while helping you keep your marijuana use at the safest level possible.
- Create a Physical Barrier – Any and all prescription medications should be locked up if there are children in the house. The same goes for marijuana. If you ever feel like you need a break, having a safe place to store your medications, like a lockbox, can give you time to consider your actions carefully before you partake.
- Have Strong Rules – When are and aren’t you allowed to smoke or consume marijuana? Making your own rules, in addition to any your doctor has set, can help create healthy boundaries. It may help to write these down and post them nearby.
- Have Another Ritual or Coping Mechanism – If you are using marijuana to treat a condition, like anxiety, that you have alternative treatments for, it may not hurt to try those first. Adopting other coping mechanisms, or a number of techniques to try before you resort to marijuana may help develop your ability to thrive without it.
- Create a Schedule and Measure Your Doses – Know how much you can handle, gather as much information as you can about how potent the strain you are using is. Consider freshness and quality. If you happen to use oils or edibles, use caution when switching brands or batches. Each product can be substantially different. With all of this information, create a week-to-week schedule and ration your marijuana. By doing so, you decrease the likelihood of changing things up or doubling down.
- Leave Yourself a Note – If you’ve noticed your tolerance rising or felt that your marijuana habit might be getting a little out of hand, leave yourself a note. Then, next time you feel a craving, read the note. It should give you something to think about, at least.
There is Always Help for Those Who Need It
If you ever feel like your marijuana use is taking something away from your life, rather than adding to it, you have options. Recovery and treatment centers can help education further about marijuana addiction and when it’s time to get help. Habitual use and addiction can happen to anyone, and the safest, fastest way to get back to health is with help.