Marijuana Addiction Signs & Symptoms

Understanding Marijuana Addiction

Learn about marijuana abuse

Also referred to as pot or weed, marijuana is drug that comes from the cannabis plant. The active ingredient in this substance is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and causes mind-altering effects when smoked. Abusers of marijuana may also brew it and drink it as a tea or mix it with food and eat it, of which causes mood-altering effects as well. Those who abuse marijuana often experience feelings of relaxation, detachment from their surroundings, and other such dulled sensations when under the influence.

When marijuana is ingested, it infiltrates the user’s bloodstream and begins to affect more than just how a person perceives the world. Vital organs are impacted when a person uses marijuana. People who regularly use this substance are known to experience a number of adverse health concerns that could prove deadly. Additionally, because THC interacts with the chemicals in a person’s brain, the functioning of an individual’s brain can be significantly hindered. With regards to other areas of an individual’s life, prolonged marijuana abuse can render several negative consequences if treatment is not sought and received to end this type of chemical dependency concern. A person may have frequent interactions with the legal system, have a hard time acquiring and maintaining employment, and sustaining healthy relationships with others.

Luckily, there are marijuana abuse treatment options available that can help those who wish to overcome an addiction problem and avoid the aforementioned adversities.


Marijuana abuse statistics

It is estimated that nearly 52% of men and women between the ages of 18 and 25 and approximately 46% of adults aged 26 and older have used marijuana at some point in life. Additionally, it has been found that over 19% of 18 to 25 year olds and almost 6% of adults over the age of 26 have used this substance in the past month. Among those who abuse marijuana, there is a significantly higher risk for mental health concerns and physical ailments to occur as a result of this type of substance abuse. In fact, some research has found that emergency room visits for concerns related to marijuana abuse have risen 176% since 1994.

Causes & Risks

Causes and risk factors for marijuana abuse

Addiction specialists and mental health professionals agree that there are a few contributing factors that can elevate a person’s risk for abusing marijuana. Since there has yet to be a single, identifiable cause for this type of substance abuse, the following explanations are now widely accepted among professionals who treat individuals who abuse marijuana:

Genetic: A great deal of research supports the notion that there exists a gene that increases a person’s chances for engaging in substance abuse behaviors. This finding was discovered when it became apparent through family studies that chemical dependency concerns can be found among individuals who share similar genes. In lieu of this discovery, it can be said that substance abuse, including the abuse of marijuana, does, in fact, possess a genetic influence.

Environmental: There are several environmental contributors that could influence whether or not an individual will come to abuse marijuana. Early exposure to marijuana use and being able to acquire this substance easily from others can cause a person to ultimately use marijuana. Furthermore, those with a history of mental illness and/or chemical dependency concerns or those with a history of being victimized are at an increased risk for eventually abusing marijuana as well. Lastly, the chances a person will turn to marijuana in times of crisis will increase exponentially should that individual lack the necessary and appropriate skills for coping with turmoil in a healthy manner.

Risk Factors:

  • Preexisting mental health condition
  • Family history of mental illness
  • Peer pressure
  • Having easy access to marijuana
  • Being the victim of abuse, neglect, or crime
  • Experiencing a traumatic event
  • Lacking coping skills
  • Exposure to marijuana use or the use of other substances
  • Family history of chemical dependency concerns

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of marijuana abuse

The signs and symptoms of marijuana abuse can vary. Depending on the length of time a person has been abusing this drug, the amount he or she is using, and the frequency of a person’s use can impact the obviousness of a marijuana abuse problem. If you suspect that a loved one is abusing marijuana, the presence of the following symptoms could suggest that the person you care about is in need of treatment:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Binge-eating
  • Declined motivation
  • Possessing drug paraphernalia
  • Frequent absences from work
  • No longer performing at the expected level occupationally
  • Delayed reaction time
  • Increase in procrastination
  • Decreased inhibition
  • Lying
  • Stealing
  • Conflict within interpersonal relationships
  • Periods of seemingly uncontrolled laughter

Physical symptoms:

  • Dry mouth
  • Impaired coordination
  • Weight gain
  • Increased appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Chronic coughing
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Glassy eyes
  • Disheveled appearance
  • Delayed reflexes

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Detachment from reality
  • Impaired learning capabilities
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Hindered decision-making abilities
  • Irreversible cognitive damage
  • Memory impairment
  • Altered states of perception
  • Disorganized thoughts
  • Hallucinations

Psycho-social symptoms:

  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of fear and/or panic
  • Feelings of anxiety
  • Feelings of depression
  • Declined interest in things that were once enjoyed


Effects of marijuana abuse

When a person abuses marijuana for a long period of time, it is likely that a number of adverse effects will occur as a result. The listed adversities are those that can arise if an individual does not seek treatment to end his or her abuse of marijuana:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Reduced intellectual functioning
  • Beginning to use and/or abuse other substances
  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Weakened immune system
  • Lung infections
  • Lung damage
  • Irreversible cognitive impairment
  • Development of certain types of cancers
  • Tachycardia
  • Development of mental health condition(s)
  • Hindered learning capabilities
  • Poor occupational performance
  • Losing one’s job
  • Interaction with the legal system

Co-Occurring Disorders

Marijuana abuse & co-occurring disorders

It is common for abusers of marijuana to struggle with mental health concerns. Whether a mental health condition is present prior to abusing marijuana or if symptoms of a mental health condition emerge after abusing this drug, ongoing use of marijuana can exacerbate or worsen symptoms of a mental illness or illnesses. The following mental health conditions are those that are frequently diagnosed in individuals who are struggling with a marijuana abuse problem:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Personality disorders
  • Other substance use disorders
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Depressive disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bipolar disorder

Withdrawal & Overdose

Effects of marijuana withdrawal & overdose

Long-term abuse of marijuana can cause a person to experience symptoms of withdrawal if the chronic use of this substance suddenly stops. The following effects are those that are known to occur when an individual is experiencing withdrawal from marijuana:

  • Restlessness
  • Increased irritability
  • Increased agitation
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Excessive anger
  • Intense cravings for continued use of marijuana
  • Depressed mood

My counselor at Galax helped me realize I didn't need marijuana in my life. I'm so grateful for my time there.

– Jasmine
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