What Is The Most Commonly Abused Chemical Substance?

23. November 2015

There are varying opinions on what, exactly, constitutes a drug, and what would be considered abuse. All opinions and views aside, the most commonly abused illicit chemical substance abused today is marijuana. While there is a widely held belief that marijuana isn’t addictive, the fact is that any drug that alters brain chemistry has the potential to produce addiction. If you are struggling with marijuana addiction and are unable to stop, chemical dependency treatment can help.

But wait, isn’t marijuana a natural substance? Yes, it is. With exception of substances that are entirely man-made in a lab, most drugs and medications are natural, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t chemical. Opium is natural, but heroin is considered a chemical substance. Tobacco is natural, but it contains hundreds of chemicals. Alcohol is natural, so is cocaine. Like all of these other substances, marijuana is very much a chemical substance. And although it has been legalized in many states, and the stigma that was once attached to it is mostly gone, it is still considered an illicit substance.

Marijuana is derived from the Cannabis Sativa plant. It contains the chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. THC is a mind-altering chemical that produces the “high” associated with marijuana use. In addition to THC, there are additional chemicals in marijuana called cannabinoids.

Does Marijuana Have Medicinal Uses?


The FDA does not currently consider marijuana itself to be medicinal. It is acknowledged that some of the cannabinoids do have medicinal properties, and they have been isolated and used in medications.

Cannabidiol (CBD) in particular has been looked at as a possible treatment for childhood epileptic seizures and other illnesses. Cannabidiol itself does not have an intoxicating effect on the user.

THC also has therapeutic value due to its tendency to reduce nausea, decrease pain and increase appetite in some people. There are practitioners who prescribe medical marijuana for a variety of ailments, and in some cases the drug is medicinal. However, in many more cases, the prescription is given simply to allow legal use of the drug recreationally.

The fact that marijuana has therapeutic values does not take away from its potential negative effects as an illicit drug.

What Are The Negative Effects Of Marijuana

Regardless of its potential medicinal value, most people use marijuana for recreational purposes. While it may not pose the same level of threat as other illicit drugs, it does have side effects and risks, many that have been proven, some that are speculated and others that are simply unknown.

Smoking marijuana poses the obvious health risks associated with inhaling smoke. Respiratory distress and lung damage have been shown to occur with repeated smoke inhalation.

Marijuana produces the perception of well-being, reduced inhibitions and altered perception. Continuous use of the drug has been shown to increase levels of depression among users. This is ironic because many people claim that marijuana eases depression symptoms, however continuing to use it over time actually increases the symptoms.

Cognitive deficits have been shown to occur with marijuana use. Use of the drug impairs short-term memory and affects problem-solving skills and causes confusion. While these side effects may subside in time, repeated, long-term use may impair cognitive function permanently.

This is particularly feared to be the case among adolescent marijuana users, who may lose up to 9 IQ points over time. Research shows that this loss of intelligence is not restored later on, even after quitting marijuana. Parents should be aware of this last study because it specifically applies to teens, the research did not show these results for adults. This means that marijuana has a direct, harmful effect on the still-developing brain of the adolescent. The younger a teen starts using marijuana and the longer they use, the greater the cognitive damage can be.

If your teen has a marijuana addiction, they can benefit from chemical dependency treatment.

Signs Of Marijuana Addiction

So how do you know if you or someone you love has a marijuana addiction? A substance or activity has become an addiction when it interferes with normal life, and when you can’t quit, even if you want to. If using marijuana takes priority over other activities, it is a problem. Here are some signs to look for:

  • You have thought about or tried to quit smoking marijuana, but find that you keep going back to it.
  • You feel anxious, uncomfortable or depressed when you run out of marijuana.
  • You don’t enjoy activities that you used to enjoy.
  • You avoid social situations if you know that there won’t be marijuana or that you won’t be able to smoke it there.
  • You find yourself feeling depressed or anxious a good deal of the time.
  • You spend all of your money on marijuana or money that you intended to spend on other things.
  • You choose smoking marijuana over other activities, even things you feel like you would want to do.
  • Your lack of motivation is affecting your ability to get or keep a job, or go to school.

While you won’t develop a physical dependence on marijuana, you can develop a psychological dependence that you can’t seem to get away from. It can affect your enjoyment of life and your ability to be successful.

If you suspect someone you love has a problem with marijuana, and the above signs and symptoms seem familiar, it may be time to consider an intervention. Chemical dependency treatment can help them overcome their addiction and get their life back. Contact Intervention Services, Inc. at 877-478-4621 today.