Marijuana Use

It is relatively common for college students to be exposed to and want to try marijuana in college. Students are often drawn to it because of its relaxing, sedative quality, which may seem to offset the stress and anxiety of academic demands. However, many do not know the full spectrum of effects of marijuana use. In addition, marijuana produced these days may be laced with other unknown substances.

Short-Term Effects

  • Increased heart rate
  • Red or conjunctivitis eye
  • Impairs ability to follow moving objects, which may make driving difficult
  • Can act as a stimulant as well as depressant depending on variety and amount of chemical absorbed in the brain
  • May become confused
  • Mentally separated from the environment; detachment
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Stronger varieties can produce giddiness
  • Paranoia
  • Some users have reported panic attacks

Long-Term Effects

  • Respiratory problems (increased coughing and chronic bronchitis)
  • Depressed immune system, increasing likelihood of catching cold, flu & other viral infections
  • Negatively impacts short-term memory, which interferes with learning
  • Changes in brain that are similar to those seen after long-term abuse of other major drugs
  • May be associated with anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and/or schizophrenia

Similar to alcohol use, moderate and occasional marijuana use does not tend to interfere with other areas of you life. However, when you smoke marijuana to escape or to deal with life's difficulties, you do not allow yourself to develop effective coping skills.

Addiction

Long-term marijuana use can lead to addiction; that is, you may use the drug compulsively even though it often interferes with family, school, work, and recreational activities (according to National Institute of Drug Abuse--http://www.nida.nih.gov/ResearchReports/Marijuana/Marijuana4.html#addictive).

Decreasing Your Marijuana Use

  • Write down your reasons for cutting down or stopping. Honestly assess whether you want to cut down your use.
  • Keep a journal/diary log of your marijuana use (e.g., what day of the week, time of day, what was going on that prompted you to want to smoke, place consumed, who you were with each time) & notice any patterns over time.
  • Make friends with those who do not revolve their life around alcohol or drugs.
  • Keep only small amount or no marijuana at home.
  • Take a break from smoking; pick a week or two that you will not smoke at all. You may want to start with fewer days, if you are smoking several times a week.
  • Learn how to say "NO." Practice ways to say "no" politely.
  • Get support. Tell your friends about your intention to decrease using and suggest alternate activities to do together.
  • Watch for situations, people, or places that prompt you to smoke, even if you do not want to.
  • Do not give up! If you do not reach your goal of decreasing the first time, try again.
  • Develop an active life style. Try new things to do instead of smoking or drinking, e.g., hiking, playing sports or a game, seeing a movie, etc.
  • Learn relaxation and meditation techniques so that you are not turning to marijuana in an effort to decrease your stress.
  • Talk to a professional counselor to learn more healthy coping skills.

Come to Counseling Services in Administration Building, Room 201, to further evaluate whether a problem actually exists, to learn more ways to cut down your marijuana use, and to learn more healthy coping skills. If your marijuana use is impacting your academics, we also have educational counselors who may help with your educational performance. Our personal counselors are available for walk-ins M-F, 10am-4pm, and for emergency/crisis walk-ins M-F, 8:30am-4:30pm. Please call 408-924-5910 for more information.