The benefits of quitting cannabis
The benefits of quitting cannabis can be profound.
Though there are some positives to cannabis use, they are far outweighed by the negatives. Research has found links between long term use and a higher risk of multiple, serious health concerns. These include issues with long term and working memory, heart and lung disease, stroke, and mental health disorders like psychosis, paranoia, depression, and anxiety.
This is especially true today. Where cannabis used to be relatively mild, this is no longer the case. The risk factors involved in its use depend on its potency, which is the level of the active compound THC it contains. THC content has increased nearly fourfold in the last thirty years, from around 4% in the 1990’s to over 15% on average in 2018.
There has never been a more urgent need to turn your back on cannabis once and for all.
The main issues with cannabis
There are many potentially harmful effects that you might expect from cannabis use. These all underscore how important it is to quit it; they also underscore how profound the benefits of quitting cannabis can be.
Though there are many health concerns presented by cannabis use, we can see a few issues that recur, that can really damage your overall wellbeing.
The cognitive issues associated with cannabis use are the most alarming. Chronic, habitual users of any demographic or age may suffer with cognitive deficits. These can relate to things like working memory, attention span, long term memory, recall, decision making, and learning. These issues can usually be reversible in mild cases, or where cannabis use begins in adulthood.
There is a host of associated risks that can link to this cognitive impairment.
For example, balance and reactivity can be diminished. This can lead to a greater risk of accident and injury, especially in later life. It can also put a cannabis user and those around them at greater risk if they drive under the influence.
Cannabis can also impair decision making abilities. This can lead to negative or harmful life choices, including risky sexual and antisocial behaviour.
Those that abuse cannabis will also be far likelier to experience anxiety disorders, eating disorders, depression, psychosis, and substance use disorder, including illegal and prescription drug use and alcohol abuse.
Cannabis is an addictive drug. As with all addictive substances, the brain will quickly adapt to regular use. It will begin to need greater and greater doses to bring about the desired effects. As consumption increases, so too do all of the risk factors associated with the use of this drug.
The effects on children and adolescents
Cannabis is far more dangerous for adolescents. Their brains are still developing. In fact, the average brain does not reach full maturity until between the ages of 21 and 25.
Cannabis use, whilst the brain develops can cause these effects to be permanent and irreversible. In fact, it can rob users who began in adolescence to lose an average of 8 IQ points before they reach forty years old.
Cannabis can also be harmful to developing foetuses. If used during pregnancy, it can cause these cognitive concerns in the unborn child.
The upsides and benefits of quitting cannabis
With all this in mind, there are a great many benefits of quitting cannabis. They mostly revolve around undoing the damage caused in the first place. This isn’t always possible, of course – sometimes the damage is too severe to be entirely reparable. However, progress is always possible.
Some changes will happen more or less immediately. You should begin to feel them within a few days. Others may take months or even years. Some will unfold slowly, with small amounts of incremental progress.
Either way, you will be healthier and organically happier for quitting cannabis.
If you quit cannabis, you will more than likely experience some or all of the following benefits.
The benefits of quitting cannabis
Cannabis use makes you sluggish. It seems to literally slow the world down around you. This is part of its appeal. Many users experience lower stress levels when high. However, it will gradually eat away at your energy levels, making you lethargic and sleepy. Slowing down your world will mean slowing your thoughts, keeping you from your true potential.
You should experience improved energy levels near enough straight away. This is one of the main benefits of quitting cannabis – the lethargy will be undone and you’ll have your spark back.
This goes hand in hand with an increase in energy, marking another of the main benefits of quitting cannabis. Just as cannabis makes you sluggish and lethargic, it also robs you of get up and go. It stops you from feeling motivated about anything.
Over time, as you quit cannabis, you will likely find this motivation returning. Just as your energy levels begin to come back, so too will your motivation to do anything. This can present itself in many spheres.
You might find your motivation returning in your career; it might be in your love life, your private life, your friendships. You could find yourself motivated to get more involved with health and fitness. Or you could simply find the motivation you need to get off the sofa and go out for the day.
Either way, you will have the oomph you need to live your best life.
Improved mental clarity and focus
Again, this complements the idea of having more energy and motivation. Cannabis clouds your mind, your judgement, your thoughts. It can rob you of mindfulness. It can make your thoughts feel sluggish and slow, stopping you from being able to properly focus on anything.
Long term, chronic use can be akin to brain damage. Long term, chronic cannabis users may never fully regain their natural cognitive health. However, in quitting, anyone can make a decent amount of progress, even if it’s not complete. You will find your mind clearing quite quickly as one of the main benefits of quitting cannabis. You will be more able to properly focus on anything and everything, being fully present possibly for the first time in years.
I mentioned above that cannabis use can impair your memory. This includes your working memory and long term memory. As with focus and mental clarity, this may never fully go away after chronic, long term use. However, some improvement is always inevitable.
Your ability to perform tasks will improve as a result of your working memory improving when you quit cannabis. You will be able to retain information more easily. Think about things like remembering a shopping list, remembering to do a certain task – putting your washing on, taking the bins out, and so on – and to function well in a workplace or social environment. Your ability to simply follow the thread of a conversation will also improve greatly.
Long term memory improvements are their own reward. However, improved long term memory has been linked with a decreased risk of neurodegenerative diseases like dementia, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s.
Improved mental health and wellbeing
We have already seen that depression, anxiety, and paranoia are common when using cannabis. Reversing these symptoms can be one of the biggest benefits of quitting the weed. You will likely find yourself naturally adopting a more positive, balanced mindset. The paranoia that cannabis breeds should fall away. Sleep patterns will improve, giving you more energy. Anxiety should diminish, too.
Of course, this is a complex process. Many people begin taking cannabis in the first place because of underlying mental health concerns. You may have to face these more fully when quitting cannabis. However, you will have the brain space and clarity to be able to do so.
Improved breathing, respiratory and cardiovascular system
Not all of the benefits of quitting cannabis are related to the brain Though cannabis comes in many forms, it is most often smoked. Joints, shisha, bongs, pipes and so on are common. As with any smoking, this can be damaging to your physical health – especially if you’re mixing cannabis with tobacco.
Your breathing will clear up when you quit smoking and your heart health will improve. Your lung capacity will increase, as will the amount of oxygen in your blood. Clogged, restricted arteries will begin to clear, which means that this newly rich blood can get around your body more easily.
This will begin immediately, though the full effects will take five to ten years to fully manifest. This will be a decade of increasing health and fitness, of improvements large and small, of your body healing itself.
Additional benefits of quitting cannabis
We’ve looked at many of the physical and mental health benefits of quitting cannabis. However, there are plenty more benefits, most of which spiral out from these.
You will likely see an improvement in many of your relationships. Your school or work performance will improve. In turn, this will probably lead to your financial situation improving – alongside the newfound impulse control and working memory health that will allow you to better manage your money.
Sleep disorders are quite common when you take cannabis. Quitting cannabis can go a couple of ways. It can lead to initial insomnia or night terrors. However, it can also lead to better sleep in the long run, though this can take some time to manifest.
Overall, the long term benefits of quitting Cannabis are very substantial. You will feel more motivated, more energetic, clearer in your mind, more emotionally stable and so forth.
If you need help and support with giving up cannabis, join us at Recoverlution and connect with like-minded others through our addiction recovery community. Here, you will find access to meetings, support groups, message boards and more, all for free.
- The effects of marijuana on the brain: https://www.cdc.gov/marijuana/health-effects/brain-health.html
- Marijuana Dependence and Its Treatment - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2797098/