5 Warning Signs of Marijuana Addiction

It’s not surprising that marijuana is one of the most commonly used drugs in America. That is why there is a need for marijuana detox. The 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that there were 22.2 million Americans in the 12+ age group who used marijuana in the month before the survey. About 1 in 10 people who smoke marijuana will become addicted to it.

Cannabis has been consumed around the world for years. But these days, it’s more mainstream than ever and is legal in many areas. It can be ingested in various ways, from smoking to eating it in a chocolate bar or gummy form. There are also marijuana cookbooks that promote using the drug in different foods for its calming effects.

Medical marijuana is also known for its soothing benefits and pain-relieving properties. It has long been hailed as an effective treatment for anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. However, if overused by people who don’t need it, it can cause serious mental damage.

People often think marijuana isn’t addictive since it doesn’t produce the same effects as opiates or benzodiazepines, but that’s not entirely true. We’ll break down how marijuana affects the body, as well as five warning signs of marijuana addiction to look out for.

What Is Marijuana?

Also known as weed, pot, or grass, marijuana is a psychoactive stimulant harvested from the Cannabis plant. It’s made from the flowers, stems, and leaves of the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. Marijuana smoke has a distinctive and pungent usually sweet-and-sour odor. Due to its potentially euphoric and relaxing effects, the drug has been in circulation for many years. It’s been used for spiritual, medicinal, and recreational purposes.

However, marijuana has numerous negative effects, although they depend on the type of weed used and on the individual consuming it. Along with this, the effects will depend on the method of ingestion. The most common way to ingest marijuana is to smoke the dried out leaves after they’ve been ground down. But it also comes in an edible form and can be made into sweets and baked goods for consumption.

Often, eating marijuana in this way will produce a more delayed, longer-lasting and intense feeling of being “high.” Tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC, is the main psychoactive chemical in marijuana, hash oil, and hashish.

How Does Marijuana Affect the Body and Brain?

When someone ingests marijuana, THC sends messages to the brain’s reward center and releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that causes feelings of pleasure. Smoking or vaping marijuana could cause you to get high within seconds or minutes. The effects of marijuana typically last about 1 to 3 hours, and if you ingest it in edible form, it can take several hours for the effects to wear off. 

As the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, THC causes you to feel “high.” This does not only consist of feelings of euphoria; it can also result in a distorted perception of reality. Sounds might seem louder and colors may seem brighter. Your judgment might also be impaired. Marijuana can also lower your motor skills and lower your inhibitions, so you’ll be more likely to engage in risky behavior. 

Is Marijuana Addiction Real?

Studies show that marijuana use can lead to the development of problem use, known as a marijuana use disorder, which can take the form of addiction in severe cases.

For years, songs and films have portrayed marijuana usage and have showcased what it’s like to be high on the drug. However, there’s still little discussion of the signs and symptoms of marijuana addiction.

Clinically, it’s helpful to understand that the terms physical dependence and addiction have been replaced with substance use disorder. This new term comes directly from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5).

The DSM-5 has diagnostic categories for nine drugs of abuse, including cannabis use disorder.

Recent research suggests that around 30% of those who use marijuana will have a degree of marijuana use disorder. Importantly, people who start using the drug before the age of 18 are up to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder than adults.

Usually, marijuana use disorders are associated with dependence, when people feel withdrawal symptoms when not taking the drug. Frequent users report feeling restless and irritable. Some may have decreased appetite, mood changes, sleep difficulties, and various forms of physical discomfort within the first week after quitting.

The brain adapts to large quantities of the drug by reducing the production of and sensitivity to its endocannabinoid neurotransmitters. This is when marijuana dependence occurs and withdrawals can follow, lasting up to two weeks.

Warning Signs of Marijuana Addiction

The number of presenting symptoms will determine if the person is diagnosed with a mild, moderate, or severe cannabis use disorder.

The DSM-5 outlines 11 symptoms that point toward a marijuana use disorder or addiction. To be diagnosed with a cannabis use disorder, a person must manifest at least two of the 11 symptoms and they must occur in the same 12-month period.

There’s an idea that marijuana isn’t addictive because it’s “natural,” since it’s a plant. This is not true, and research shows that it can be abused. There are also various potential harmful, long-term consequences for prolonged use.

Keep reading to learn about five signs of marijuana addiction so that you can recognize them early and take action.

Interference with Daily Functioning

If a marijuana user fails to perform to their usual standard at work, home, or school, then they may have a problem. You should also take note of if they’re not engaging in social events or hobbies anymore.

This is one of the first signs of marijuana addiction you’ll notice in your loved one. Problems in their main spheres of life due to their marijuana use are a sure sign that they need help.

Strong Cravings

Experiencing an urge to use marijuana when not using it and getting frustrated when it’s not readily available are both signs that your weed use has started to become an issue.

If you or someone you know is experiencing cravings and loss of control when it comes to marijuana use, then it’s time to seek professional help.

Continued Use Despite Problems

If someone continues to use marijuana despite their knowledge of the serious risks involved, then action may be required.

When a user begins to disregard problems caused by their use, it means they’re becoming dependent on the drug. If they continue to use in large quantities despite the negative impact that marijuana use is having on relationships, or work, then loved ones and friends must pay attention to these situations.

Needing More and More: Building a Tolerance

Needing larger doses of marijuana or stronger strains of the drug to induce the same feelings over time is another clear sign that someone is building a tolerance to it.

Over time, with regular use, the person will need more marijuana to get the desired, familiar effect. They may even begin to seek out different drugs for a stronger effect.

Marijuana is the Main Priority

Lastly, if the person is displaying a disproportionate focus on weed, their use should be monitored and assessed. By dedicating too much time and resources to their marijuana use, they’re bound to be neglecting other important areas of their life.

This also shows their strong desire for the drug and the way the drug will continue to hold power over their decision making.

Physical and Psychological Signs of Marijuana Addiction

  • Anxiety
  • Lack of motivation
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Increased appetite
  • Dizziness
  • Distorted perception of reality
  • Weight gain
  • Impaired memory
  • Euphoria (feeling “high”)

Long-Term Effects of Marijuana Addiction

Some studies show that marijuana addiction might cause anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and motivational disorder, but the psychological consequences of use aren’t fully understood.

Behavioral Signs of Marijuana Addiction

People suffering from marijuana addiction can display specific behavioral patterns that will let a loved one know that there is a problem:

  • Frequent complaints of dry mouth, also known as “cotton mouth”
  • Clothes and room smells heavily of marijuana
  • House smells heavily of deodorizers or air fresheners to mask the smell of marijuana
  • Items associated with marijuana pipes like rubbing alcohol, cotton swabs, lighters, and matches start to go missing
  • Heavy eating outside of mealtimes

The sooner you start to notice the physical, psychological and behavioral signs of marijuana addiction, the sooner you can get your loved one help. If marijuana use disorder starts below the age of 18, there is a higher risk for mental problems as the person gets older.

Does Marijuana’s Legality Affect Addiction Rates?

Over the last 10 years, medical marijuana use has become legal in 33 states, and recreational use is legal or decriminalized in 24 states. Now that marijuana use has become more accepted as both a recreational drug and a form of medicinal relief, how do we approach the subject of marijuana addiction?

Since marijuana is more widely available today, the chances of developing marijuana use disorder are undoubtedly higher. Studies have shown this to be true, citing addiction has risen in states where marijuana use is legal. Although the overall rate of marijuana use disorder in the country hasn’t increased, these facts are still troubling.

Last year, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that marijuana use disorder in young adults aged 12 to 17 went up 25% in states where recreational marijuana use is legal. Marijuana use in adults 26 and older was 26% higher in these same states as opposed to states where it’s illegal. 

If you live in a state where recreational marijuana is legal, such as Alaska, California, Colorado or Washington, you may want to watch out for potential signs of marijuana addiction in your child, friend or loved one. More people do use it in states where it’s legal, and it can be hard to get this under control.

The Next Steps

You’ve made the right decision to get clued up on the marijuana symptoms of abuse. While many people believe cannabis isn’t addictive, it’s clear that it is. Therefore, being aware of the signs and symptoms is very important.

When you understand what to look out for, you can prevent someone you love from falling into the deep hole of addiction. It’s important to put a stop to it before their life spins out of control.

So, what are the next steps?

Marijuana Addiction Treatment

The main symptoms of marijuana withdrawal are psychological rather than physical, which differs greatly from people recovering from heroin or alcohol use disorder. The most important treatment program to pursue when getting rid of your marijuana use disorder is therapy. It will change the way you think about smoking weed and observe how it became a priority in your life.

What is Marijuana Detox?

Marijuana detox is a medical process in which a patient abstains from marijuana use for 30 days while under supervision from licensed clinicians. Once your body gets used to THC in your body, it will be hard for it to function without this psychoactive chemical.

Some common marijuana withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Irritability or anger
  • Night sweats
  • Tremors
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of concentration

There are plenty of things you can do to mitigate marijuana withdrawal symptoms, such as drinking plenty of water, exercising, and reducing your caffeine intake. Although THC only remains in the bloodstream for 36 hours after using marijuana, it can remain in the body for several weeks since it’s absorbed through fatty tissue. 

It can be hard to predict how long marijuana will stay in someone’s system. This depends on how much marijuana is being used and how often it’s used.

Therapy for Marijuana Use Disorder

Coastal Detox offers several types of marijuana addiction treatment that can help you recover safely from your usage. Therapy can put you in a better mindset and help change the way you think about using marijuana.

  • Individual therapy: Individual therapy is a good opportunity for you and your counselor to discuss your marijuana abuse.
  • Group therapy: In group therapy, you can speak with others who have abused marijuana and learn from their experience, with the assistance of a counselor.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT focuses on your emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in the present moment.
  • Family therapy: Family therapy can help you and your family repair relationships that might have been damaged by your marijuana use disorder.

Get Help Today for Marijuana Addiction at Coastal Detox

If you’re concerned that you or someone you care about might be addicted to marijuana, you should seek professional advice immediately. Please contact Coastal Detox for more information about seeking professional help and support in the treatment of marijuana addiction.

Connor Barton
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