When Smoking Marijuana Becomes an Addiction: The Signs, Symptoms and Dangers

The majority of marijuana users are not addicted to the drug. For most, marijuana is a drug considered to be very similar to alcohol in which repeated, regular use is pleasurable and desired, but it’s not necessary to function. However, just like with alcohol, addiction is possible for marijuana users. Understanding the differences between marijuana use and addiction can help reinforce exactly how dangerous repeated drug use can be.

What Is Marijuana Addiction?

Marijuana addiction refers to a person’s dependency on smoking marijuana. Marijuana is sometimes called “weed,” “pot” or “maryjane,” but it is all the same cannabis substance. For marijuana use to classify as an addiction, there must be some negative consequences associated with not using marijuana. If a person can refrain from using marijuana with no consequences whatsoever, it is not likely they are addicted to smoking marijuana.

What Are the Symptoms of Marijuana Addiction?

The symptoms of marijuana addiction can vary between users, but there is an identifiable negative effect on the user from stopping the drug’s use when there’s an addiction. The negative effects experienced when stopping marijuana use can include:

  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Intense cravings
  • Anxiety
  • Nightmares or night terrors
  • Loss of appetite
  • Chills

All of these can be symptoms of withdrawal from marijuana. It is common for people to identify symptoms of withdrawal as the exact reason they used marijuana in the first place.

Some people smoke marijuana to “mellow out” feelings of irritability or to increase appetite, so stopping use marks a dramatic increase in irritability or a complete loss of appetite. The logical conclusion drawn by these individuals is to smoke marijuana to reduce these symptoms once again. It is in this cycle that we can observe how withdrawal symptoms can actually lead to even worse marijuana addiction.

What Are the Signs of Marijuana Addiction?

It is common for people experiencing marijuana addiction to begin using increasing amounts of the drug. This can look different for each individual. Some may use increasing amounts when they smoke, but they continue to smoke with the same frequency. For others, it can seem difficult to get through the day without using marijuana. Some of the first warnings signs of marijuana addiction include smoking before work, during work or to get through regular activities like family functions or dinners. Other signs may include increased spending or debt on drugs, weight change and withdrawal symptoms.

What Causes Marijuana Addiction?

It can be confusing to think about how some people become addicted to marijuana while others do not. For many, it comes down to genetics. For years, scientists have been working to uncover the mechanics of addiction and the genes. Sometimes referred to as “the addiction gene,” some of us do have a biological tendency to develop addiction more quickly or strongly than others. When this is the case, drug and alcohol use should be avoided because there is no known way to change these addiction genetic components.

Other causes of marijuana addiction can vary. It may be supported by an environment, brought on by a significant life event or used in place of other drugs. One of the most common causes of marijuana smoking addiction is tolerance. Once someone builds a tolerance to marijuana, they will use increasing amounts of the drug to feel its desired effects. Before long, a larger amount of marijuana may seem necessary for the person just to reach their “normal” baseline of feeling good. Once drug tolerance is achieved, addiction can set in.

How to Get Help

If you or a loved one is suffering from a marijuana addiction, it is most recommended to seek professional treatment. A treatment center, like ours, can help identify the social, emotional and physical triggers that may be contributing to your marijuana use. From there, we can work together to establish a personalized treatment approach to achieve long-term marijuana sobriety. Contact us today to learn more.


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