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Is Marijuana a Depressant?

A recent survey from Yahoo News and Marist University has shed new light on marijuana usage.

The data highlights that marijuana is one of the most widely used substances the world over.

In the United States alone, 55 million people identify as current marijuana users. That brings the number of marijuana smokers up to the level of cigarette smokers (59 million)! But, despite its rising popularity, some questions still linger.

What is marijuana exactly? Is marijuana a depressant? Is it a stimulant? Further, what are the risks of marijuana use? What are its effects when ingested?

Read on, and we’ll tell you what’s what when it comes to marijuana. 

Drug Classifications

First things first, all drugs fall into certain classifications. These classifications are based on the properties of the substance and the effects they have on the human body.

Generally speaking, all drugs, street and legal, fall into different categories. Some occupy more than one. The following categories are based on the drug’s effect on the human body. 

Depressants

Depressants, as the name suggests, depress the nervous system. In other words, they slow down brain function.

For those with anxiety disorders or PTSD, these actions can bring great relief. Depressants can swiftly relax tense muscles, and sooth frayed nerves, generally helping to calm the body down.

As such, many depressants have critical uses in medicine. Chief among those uses are managing pain, reducing anxiety, and assisting with sleep.

Examples of depressants include:

  • Alcohol
  • Xanax
  • Vicodin
  • Ambien

Stimulants

Almost the antithesis of depressants, stimulants speed up the messages between the brain and body. This includes increased heart rate and boosting blood pressure.

At their best, stimulants can make people feel alert, confident, and energetic. At their worst, they can cause anxiety, panic attacks, paranoia, even seizures.

Examples of stimulants include:

  • Nicotine
  • Cocaine
  • Caffeine
  • Methamphetamine

Hallucinogens

Hallucinogens are also frequently called ‘psychedelic drugs.‘ The effects can vary drastically from person to person. Generally, they alter the way people see, hear, taste, smell, and feel.

These types of drugs alter one’s perception of reality. You may have heard it referred to as ‘tripping’ or ‘going on a trip.’ The perception of reality changes so much that many users report feelings of going or being ‘somewhere else.’

Examples of hallucinogens include:

  • DMT
  • LSD
  • Psilocybin (magic mushrooms)
  • MDMA

Opiates 

Opiates are some of the most potent painkillers out there. They are highly addictive and have a lasting effect on the brain.

There is a fair amount of overlap between drugs in the depressants category and opiates. 

Examples include:

  • Oxycotin
  • Fentanyl
  • Heroin
  • Morphine

Is Marijuana a Depressant?

The answer to that is not cut and dry. Each person’s unique physiology has a different reaction to the marijuana plant.

Therefore the effects of marijuana vary from person to person, as well as from strain to strain. It’s generally accepted that Indica strains are more relaxing while Sativa’s are more stimulating. 

The method of ingestion can change the effect too. Someone who smokes marijuana will experience it differently than someone who eats it. Applying marijuana topically will give a different experience too.

And again, the experience varies drastically from person to person regardless of the method of ingestion.

Depending on who you ask, marijuana is a depressant, a stimulant, or a hallucinogen. Notably, it is never considered an opiate despite its pain-relieving properties. 

Effects of Marijuana 

Marijuana is a complex plant. Science is just starting to unravel all of its mysteries, and we aren’t even close. The effects of marijuana can be both stimulating and depressing, sometimes even hallucinogenic!

By stimulating dopamine production, marijuana acts as a stimulant. It can increase blood pressure and heart rate, which make you feel alert and energetic.

Conversely, marijuana can also have a relaxing effect. It calms the body’s muscles and nerves and has been found to help people suffering from chronic pain.

Marijuana can also enhance the experience of other substances. So it’s sort of a jack-of-all-trades in the drug world. 

Effects run the gambit and may include:

  • Tiredness
  • Alertness
  • Hunger
  • Irritability
  • Pain Relief
  • Insomnia

Risks of Marijuana

Like other mind-altering substances, there is a potential for abuse with marijuana.

Over time the body will build up a tolerance. This means that you will need more marijuana to achieve the same results.

For example, if you use marijuana to help you sleep over time it may become hard to sleep without it.

At the end of the day though, when compared to other habit-forming substances, the side effects of marijuana are not so bad.

They can include:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Mood irregularities
  • Cravings
  • Irritability 
  • Paranoia

Deeper problems arise when dependency forms. When someone can not stop using marijuana. Even if it is negatively impacting their lives.

As is the case with other substances, this is the stage where intervention and/or harm reduction may be advised.

Marijuana in the Long Term

Marijuana has a long history of human consumption. And among healthy, consenting adults, the negative effects are often minimal. Still, it’s worth noting that marijuana does have long-term effects.

The severity of the effects has a lot to do with age and brain development. The younger the person the more at risk they are for negative side effects.

Some studies point to altered brain development and cognitive impairment among the top risks.

People who already struggle with anxiety may find that marijuana amplifies their condition. Similarly, marijuana may induce depressive states for others.

There are many benefits to marijuana becoming more socially acceptable. We anticipate more, well-funded studies on its impacts. Additionally, we can expect a safer, more regulated product.

Get Help with Restore Detox Centers

So is marijuana a depressant? There is no clear-cut answer to that question. Yes, no, and it depends. 

In some instances, marijuana is just one of many substances people use to self-soothe. Often it may be the mildest substance of choice, but not without its risks.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse we would love to help. 

Please reach out. Our friendly, professional staff can help get you or your loved one on the road to recovery, today.