marijuana addiction and abuse

Modified: 22nd Jul 2019

Marijuana is now legal in some form in 33 different states along with Washington D.C. However, it is important to remember and understand that while marijuana is not necessarily the worst drug out there, it is possible to get addicted to it. 

Marijuana addiction is just as serious as any other addiction and should be treated appropriately.  

Keep reading to learn more about the signs of marijuana addiction and abuse and how you can find help for those that need it. 

Marijuana

Made from the dried leaves of the cannabis plant, marijuana is a psychoactive drug. This means it is a drug that alters the state of mind and brain function with regards mood, perception, and behavior. 

As a drug, marijuana is smoked like a cigarette. Most commonly for recreational use, the leaves are mixed with rolling tobacco into hand-rolled cigarettes referred to as joints. It can also be used in baking and to make a tea, all of which have the same effects as smoking a joint.

The core historical use for marijuana has been for the treatment of chronic pain and nausea. Studies have shown it to be an effective treatment method. 

The core problems with marijuana dependance derive from its increasing popularity as a recreational drug. 

Marijuana Effects on the Body

Depending on several factors from quantity to quality and the biology of the person smoking, there are many different impacts that repeated marijuana use can have on the body.

Prolonged and intensive use of the drug can cause a variety of problems both physiological and psychological including:

  • Memory damage
  • Heart conditions 
  • Damage to teeth and gums

Marijuana Addiction and Abuse

Statistics show that the group most likely to suffer from marijuana addiction and abuse is the 18-25 age range, with men being far more likely to take the drug than women. 

1 in 6 users start smoking in their teens, and of those that smoke daily, up to 50% become marijuana addicts. 

Signs of Marijuana Abuse

The signs of addiction are:

  • Problems with short-term memory
  • Problems learning new things
  • Inability to accurately problem solve
  • Decreased or altered perception
  • Coordination loss
  • Panic attacks
  • Anxiety 
  • Accelerated heart rate

Heavier use can have a harder impact on both the body and the mind. If you are worried that someone is heavily abusing marijuana, then you should look out for signs of:

  • Moodiness
  • Anger
  • Restlessness
  • Changes in appetite
  • Insomnia or trouble sleeping

Marijuana Symptoms and Warning Signs

There are ways to tell if a someone is suffering from marijuana addiction. They are subtler in most cases than you might expect from heavier drugs, but nonetheless, they are there.

Symptoms of Addiction to Marijuana

If you are regularly smoking marijuana then there is a strong case to be made that you are addicted. However, there are certain signs and warning indicators.

  • Increased tolerance to the high
  • Inability to stop smoking
  • Skipping other engagements just to get high
  • Getting high more frequently

Warning Signs a Love One May Be Abusing Marijuana

If you are concerned that a friend or loved one might be using marijuana then you can look for any of the signs or indicators listed above.

There is also one other way you can tell is a parent or a child has been using: Scent.

Marijuana has a very distinct aroma to it, and if somebody is smoking it regularly, then you are going to be able to smell it on their clothes, on their person.

Intervention for Marijuana Abuse 

If you are convinced that a friend or loved one is struggling with marijuana dependence, then you might want to hold an intervention. This is especially useful if they are not yet ready to admit to themselves that they have a problem. 

It can be harder to hide in denial when the stark reality is laid out before you. 

Majiuana Withdrawal and Detox

While marijuana does not come with a physical addiction like the more harmful drugs, there is a definite psychological addiction that can form. This, much like gambling, can be a hard thing to break without the right resources.

What Causes Marijuana Withdrawal?

Much like any drug, the body not only becomes accustomed to the high but starts to need it in order to believe it can function. This psychological impact is a big part of addiction and breaking it a bigger part of withdrawal. 

When your body is suddenly deprived of what it is used to, it responds in various ways. 

Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms

While the symptoms are less severe, you are likely to face some signs of withdrawal when going through the detox process. These include:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Random cravings
  • Irritability 
  • Anxiety

Duration of Marijuana Withdrawal

While withdrawal will vary from one person to another, the symptoms tend to peak at around 72 hours and can persist for anywhere up to three weeks, reducing in severity as time passes.

Detoxing from Marijuana on Your Own 

Much like any drug, detoxing from marijuana addiction is not something that should be undertaken alone or without a solid support structure in place. 

While possible, provided you have the willpower to see it through, it is never a recommended course of action, and you should at least make sure you have friends or loved ones close by to help you through it. 

Medical Detox for Marijuana

There are currently no drugs that are specifically designed for use in marijuana detox, however, it is possible that antidepressants can help deal with some of the symptoms of withdrawal. Sleeping aids can also help through periods of insomnia that may arise.

Marijuana Treatment and Rehab

There are multiple treatment and rehab solutions that are focused on treating those addicted to marijuana. 

Marijuana Inpatient

Many clinics offer a 30 or a 90-day program and are the perfect way to start the road to recovery right. 

This is a beneficial approach for heavy users as it offers a safe, trigger free and supportive environment to kick-start the detox process.

Marijuana Outpatient

Outpatient treatment is a good option for those with a more mild level of addiction and who want to continue their normal lives as best possible. Attending a facility for treatment sessions only 

Marijuana Sober Living

Addiction never ends. It is a battle that will always be fought. That means that full sober living is something that needs to be worked at.

Avoiding the triggers that treatment and therapy will help you identify, along with support groups and continued therapy will help ensure you stay on the right path. 

Ongoing Recovery

The long road that is recovery can be tough. Many people find behavioral therapy a useful component to their recovery. A twelve-week therapy course is an average length followed.

The use of behavioral therapy is as a means to better understand the mechanics of your addiction and how you respond to situations. 

Support Groups are Another Great Recovery Resource

Much like other addictions, group support is a common thing for recovering marijuana users. There are several different groups that have risen in recent years, and they work similarly to AA and other similar programs.

The twelve steps of recovery can be applied to marijuana abuse the same way they can to alcohol or narcotics. 

An alternative is the SMART recovery program which offers an alternative approach to the twelve steps.  

It Is Never Too Late to Get Help for Marijuana Addiction and Abuse

There are plenty of options out there for those looking to get help for their marijuana addiction and abuse problems. 

It is never too early or too late to look for assistance in stepping away from the dangerous fingers of addiction. It might not always seem like it, but marijuana is not the answer to life’s stresses.

Is it time to walk the road to recovery? Get in touch with us today.

Article Reviewed by Dr. Keerthy Sunder, MD, DFAPA

Dr. Keerthy Sunder, MD, DFAPADr. Keerthy Sunder, MD is an accomplished and internationally recognized expert in the field of addiction. He has earned diplomates from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, the American Board of Addiction Medicine, and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.