In recent years the use of psychedelics like Marijuana (AKA Weed, Cannabis) has increased in popularity. One of the reasons this may have occurred, is that the counterculture has promoted some of these substances as a safer alternative to mainstream pharmaceutical interventions. Some individuals seem to view psychedelics like marijuana as a viable tool to substitute conventional pharmaceutical treatments for mental health issues, physical pains, and even as a sleep aid. The belief that the side effects are going to be less detrimental than more processed drugs seems to be rationalized primarily from the fact that Marijuana is a plant present in nature. There are also, however, dangers that exist in nature.
As of 2023, 39 States have legalized high-THC medicinal marijuana/cannabis. A survey conducted by Gallup in 2021 showed that 45% of all American adults now have tried marijuana. Marijuana Statistics in the US: Cannabis Use & Abuse (2023 Data Update) - CFAH This is one of the most widely abused drugs both illicitly and legally in the US and worldwide. If trends continue as they have, the number of people who use cannabis in the US is projected to reach 71 million by 2030.
Despite the general opinion that weed is less harmful than other substances, there are various side-effects which impair the optimal functioning of our brain and bodily functions that can be linked to using Marijuana, regardless of the method of consumption. This has led many to search for a form of marijuana detox.
This article is for individuals who seek to make a more informed decision regarding whether marijuana is an appropriate tool to address the conditions people use it for, or if it has more effective and sustainable alternatives. To give you the best opportunity possible at making this informed decision, we will explore the perceived benefit people seek from using marijuana, discuss how the probability of long-term negative side effects is highly increased when people begin using weed before the brain has fully developed, then finally cover strategies for people seeking to identify and address signs of marijuana addiction.
Weed for Sleep-Aid
Marijuana users seem to be using weed most often as a sleep aid and/or to address mental health issues like anxiety. As it relates to sleep, the data seems to indicate that using weed may help some people fall asleep faster, but will ultimately reduce the amount of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep we
REM sleep is one of the 4 sleep stages and is associated with healthy brain development by playing an important role in dreaming, forming memories, and emotional processing. REM Sleep Revealed: Enhance Your Sleep Quality | Sleep Foundation Less REM will reduce the overall sleep quality and can leave you feeling lethargic and irritable. These detrimental effects to REM sleep may be part of the reason people who unsuccessfully address the signs of marijuana addiction develop memory problems from using cannabis in the long term. Cognitive outcomes associated with long-term, regular, recreational cannabis use in adults: A meta-analysis. (apa.org) Continual deprivation of REM sleep may also cause feelings of anxiety and moodiness. One can imagine how overlooking these signs of marijuana addiction might also begin to negatively impact relationships. When marijuana is used chronically, then the probability of developing insomnia doubles.
When effects like this are noted, which reduce the quality of life, and people continue to have urges to use weed; then these habitual behaviors which corrode our health, can be considered signs of marijuana addiction. It should also be noted that these effects on sleep can make the substance more addictive as there are withdrawal effects that occur from quitting use that drop the quality of sleep lower than the original baseline before using the drug. This can make it more difficult for people to successfully complete a marijuana detox.
Addressing anxiety by using marijuana produces a similar theme. While there may be some people who feel it can help symptoms, there are many who also develop a worsened state of anxiety. The role of cannabis in treating anxiety: an update - PubMed (nih.gov) The data is currently inconclusive as to whether or not using cannabis will have anti-anxiety effects on any given person. Although, the general consensus is that weed causes a sense of relaxation and euphoria, there seem to also be many people who develop a greater sense of paranoia and worry. Chronic use has even been correlated with an increased risk of developing psychosis and schizophrenia. Data and Statistics (cdc.gov)
Humans and most animals alike seem to have physical indications of anxious feelings. This deep connection to our posture and body language is described in more detail here in our article discussing slouching Solve Slouching: How to prevent a Kyphotic Posture – Functional Patterns. For now the main takeaway will be that the physical body represents the state of our brain, and in almost the same way, the physical body can play a role in framing our mental state.
Managing physical pain seems to be another symptom of a deeper problem that many people experience and turn to cannabis in an attempt to alleviate. This seems to be another misguided reactionary approach to a symptom, rather than a proactive systemic approach to address the underlying cause of pain. Painkillers or Opioids are in a similar category.
Although there are many people who would agree that using cannabis may help them reduce opioid use for chronic pain, Cannabis as a Substitute for Opioid-Based Pain Medication: Patient Self-Report - PubMed (nih.gov), deciding on the lesser of two evils is not an ideal way to select what is best for your body. There are other ways we can address these issues that will take into account how the body operates.
Pain in the body is fundamentally an electrical signal in the brain that creates the physical sensation. The body typically reacts to this signal and adapts to avoid any further damage. For example, touching a hot stove or pan causes stinging pain which usually causes an instant response in people to pull away from the heat. In a sense, joint pains are just like these signals for us to avoid the heat, except with our joints we need to avoid certain positions and tensions on our body which can lead to damage. The process of discovering how to create more optimal tension which supports our joints, promotes pain relief, and provides longevity will be longer than using a fast acting substance like cannabis to cause an immediate short term masking of the symptoms, but this will begin to address the underlying problem long-term.
Seeking instant gratification can also accelerate the development of signs of marijuana addiction. When associations are made to handle uncomfortable situations by using substances to regulate how we feel, it can be more challenging to delay gratification via a marijuana detox and work to figure out the source of the problems we are experiencing in the future. However, this link below showcases some of what is possible when we do just that and patiently address the source of joint pain using the system Functional Patterns to improve the big four, standing, walking, running, and throwing.
When we give the body more balance and adaptability to respond to the environment, we continually see improvements in physical pain symptoms, reduced levels of anxiety and improved quality of sleep.
Our brain uses electrical signals to manage the endogenous or internal production of neurochemicals we consider responsible for our mood. Some of these neurochemicals greatly affected by using cannabis are dopamine and serotonin. Using external substances to modify the brain’s chemical balance is working backwards from the root cause of the problem.
The problem in most of these scenarios seems to be that the brain is not signaling the body for the right amount of rest, tissue repair, or neurochemical production. Given this foundation, the most appropriate response seems to be optimizing the function and nourishment of our brain. For many people this may mean successfully completing a marijuana detox and operating sober will give their brain the best opportunity to thrive. Doing this in conjunction with addressing inefficiencies in our standing, walking, running, and throwing can make us feel more intrinsically rewarded and avoid seeking an escape.
As it relates to the medicinal qualities of marijuana, it appears there is no long term solution to be found for the problems most seek to address with the substance. If you are a regular user of cannabis that does sense there is a dependency, it may be in your best interest to undergo a marijuana detox and analyze what behaviors you may have associated with using the drug. It is possible to reach a more balanced mental and physical state using more comprehensive methods like Functional Patterns which address the root cause for feeling the need to self medicate. “Live intentionally, Not Habitually”