It is important to be able to recognize a substance abuse problem, whether it is in yourself or in a loved one. Marijuana is a drug, taken medically or recreationally, and like most other drugs can have many negative effects on your mind and body. Know the signs of marijuana addiction so you can get help, particularly with the symptoms of marijuana withdrawal.
Marijuana Use Disorders
Although often thought of as a harmless recreational drug, marijuana use can actually lead to the development of a problem substance use disorder. Marijuana use disorder can take the form of a dependence or an addiction to the drug.
Research has shown that about 30% of individuals who use marijuana may have a substance use disorder related to the drug. Young people who begin using marijuana before they turn 18 have been found to be four to seven times more likely to develop a substance use disorder than adults.
Dependence and Addiction
When a person becomes dependent on a drug such as marijuana, they will feel the effects of withdrawal anytime they are not using the drug. Dependence occurs when the brain adapts to large amounts of marijuana by reducing its production of endocannabinoid neurotransmitters. The brain’s sensitivity to these neurotransmitters will also be reduced with continued use and an increased dependence level. It is possible to be dependent on a drug without being addicted.
Most experts define addiction as continued substance use despite the negative consequences that use causes in a person’s life. A person who is addicted to marijuana cannot stop using it even though the drug use is interfering with the functions of daily life. The individual may experience issues at work or in personal relationships because of their marijuana use but not be able to stop using the drug on their own.
Signs of Marijuana Addiction
When you are trying to determine whether you have a problem with your use of marijuana, look closely at the signs of addiction:
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed. Marijuana can affect your motivation and your decision-making processing. You might lose interest in recreational and social activities. You also might lose interest in setting and working toward goals at work or in life in general.
- Putting less effort into relationships. Your relationships can suffer when you are addicted to marijuana, including those with close friends, family members, and significant others. You may find that you are pulling away from the people in your life who disapprove of you using the drug and, in fact, will probably choose marijuana use over your relationship with them.
- Experiencing an increased tolerance level. You will find that you need to use more marijuana to get the same effect you did previously. Tolerance signals dependence on the drug and is one of the main criteria for determining whether you are addicted.
- Not being able to stop using the drug. You probably know that your addiction to marijuana has caused problems in your life, including not being able to fulfill your responsibilities at work or at home, but you are not able to stop using it on your own.
- Developing withdrawal symptoms when not using marijuana. When you do stop using it, even temporarily, you will experience significant marijuana withdrawal symptoms when you are addicted to the drug. You may become depressed, anxious, irritable, restless, or have physical symptoms such as tremors, chills, or sweating.
Although withdrawal from marijuana does not usually have the same dangerous effects as withdrawal from drugs such as cocaine or heroin, there are still physical and psychological symptoms that can cause issues and that can be difficult to manage alone. You will experience withdrawal symptoms when you are addicted and try to stop using the drug, but the severity of those symptoms will depend on the extent of your substance use.
When you smoke marijuana, your body gets a regular supply of a psychoactive ingredient known as THC. The more you smoke, the more your brain develops a tolerance for the substance. When you become addicted, your brain depends on a steady supply of the THC. When you stop using marijuana, your brain has to adjust to not having the substance fed to it.
You will experience withdrawal symptoms as your body tries to adjust to its new normal. The withdrawal process is best managed by a healthcare professional who can monitor you and ensure that you remain safe and healthy as you rid your brain and your body of the harmful substance.
Contact Recovery Without Walls for Help with Marijuana Addiction
At Recovery Without Walls, we understand that it can be difficult to stop using and abusing marijuana without help. We are here to guide you through safe and effective withdrawal from the drug so you can move forward with improving your physical and mental health. We personalize your treatment based on evidence-informed research, exceptional psychotherapy, nutritional support, and integrative healing methods designed to treat your whole body. Contact us today to learn how we can help you.