Marijuana may be legal in many states, but that does not mean it cannot be addictive and cause major issues for people who abuse it.
Prolonged use of any illicit drug can cause dependence, creating an unhealthy relationship between the user and the substance. Excessive use of marijuana can create negative impacts on one’s career, school work or relationships.
Is marijuana addictive? Understanding how marijuana works helps to answer that question.
Marijuana has been known by many names over the years, from Mary Jane to doobie to weed to pot. Marijuana consists of the dried leaves, stems, flowers, and seeds from the cannabis sativa plant. Marijuana contains a mind-altering substance, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly known as THC.
Marijuana is a gateway drug and is among the most frequently used illicit substances among teens. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana use is very common. In 2017, 45 percent reported using marijuana at least once, with 37.1 percent having used it in the last year. Among 8th graders, 13.5 percent had used it during their lives, 10.1 percent of whom had used in the past year.
Many marijuana users report feeling calmed and sedated after using the drug. THC interacts with certain receptors in the brain and alter neural functions.
Pot is commonly smoked in different ways. Marijuana joints include rolled pot that is lit and inhaled, usually without the use of a filter, meaning more smoke and heat are directly sent to the lungs. Larger, cigar-sized rolls are called blunts.
Other users use pipes or bongs to inhale marijuana. Vaping marijuana is also common, in which a vaporizer heats the cannabis, producing vapors that can be inhaled.
Marijuana is also used as an ingredient in foods, referred to as edibles. Chocolate bars, brownies, and cakes are common substances that can be made with pot as an active ingredient.
Users can experience a number of sensations when using marijuana, including:
- Altered senses, including altered sense of time and place
- Impaired memory
- Poor coordination of motor skills
- Slowed thinking
Is Marijuana Addictive?
Marijuana is a psychologically addictive substance. Those suffering from can also be psychologically addictive. People who are addicted to pot may find themselves with a cannabis addiction continue to use the drug despite the negative impacts on their lives.
Those with a dependency on marijuana may find themselves skipping classes to get high, not doing homework, arriving at work high, or rearranging their schedules so they can use. Marijuana is often done in social circles but can also be a lonely, isolating addiction.
If you are unsure if someone close to you is addicted to weed, look for the following symptoms:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Elevated heart rate
- Impaired cognition
- Impaired coordination and motor skills
- Increased appetite
- Lack of motivation
- Nervous or paranoid behavior
- Slowed reaction time
- Weight gain
The psychological impacts of prolonged marijuana abuse are not fully known Some studies indicate that extended use of marijuana can lead to the development of mental disorders or the worsening of existing disorders, including anxiety, depression, motivational disorder and schizophrenia. Despite the general impressions that pot use has a mellowing effect, some users report enhanced anxiety and emotional discomfort when abusing.
Long-term abuse can lead to mental impairments, some of which, when abuse begins in the teen years, can endure for years if not lifetimes. These issues can include a reduced ability to learn, mood swings, inhibited mental development, memory loss, and panic attacks. Frequent inhalation can lead to acute and chronic lung infections.
Long-term marijuana use can cause users to become addicted to marijuana. Those who are physically dependent will undergo withdrawal symptoms that should be closely monitored in a safe, secure, and supportive environment
Symptoms of withdrawal in someone addicted to marijuana will include:
- Lack of appetite
- Low mood
- Stomach pain
Cannabis addiction requires close ,careful treatment that addresses the underlying causes and emotions that have prompted a dependency on marijuana. Our approach is holistic, treating the physical and emotional needs of our patients. We help to address the cravings to use marijuana and the skills necessary to prevent those addicted to pot from relapsing.
Our approach includes physical activity, group and individual therapy and skills development. Our 90-day program includes a 30-day detox program, twice as long as most other marijuana treatment centers. We also provide extensive aftercare services, including group therapy referrals and one-on-one follow-up sessions.
Our approach focuses on identifying and honing skills that allow patients to thrive manage stress, and avoid relapse.