Marijuana Abuse: Effects, Signs & Symptoms

Marijuana Addiction: Effects, Signs & Symptoms
Marijuana, also known as cannabis, is one of the least addictive illicit drugs. Unfortunately, extended and heavy use can lead to a type of addiction, or cannabis use disorder. Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 24 million Americans aged 12 or older were marijuana users in 2016.1 Nine percent of people who use marijuana will develop a use disorder, and these are often mild.2

If marijuana is starting to interfere with areas of your life, such as relationships or work reach out for help. If the drug use of someone you care about is troubling you, addiction professionals can help. Professional treatment can help you cut back or stop using the drug. Even if you don’t qualify for a moderate or severe substance use disorder.

Symptoms and Side Effects of Marijuana Abuse

Although true addiction to marijuana is not that common among users of this drug, it can happen. The more you use cannabis and the higher the potency of what you use. Altogether, the bigger the risk of developing a physical dependence.

More likely, you may start to feel psychologically dependent on marijuana, as if you need it to relax or unwind at the end of the day or to manage unpleasant feelings like depression. Either situation is unhealthy and can benefit from treatment. A mental health professional can evaluate you using these criteria to determine if you have a use disorder or if you need some support moderating your use:3

  • Your use of marijuana use has started to feel out of control, and you try to cut back but keep using more or use it more often than you intended.
  • Your time has started to be taken over by marijuana use or getting more of the drug.
  • You have found that you are starting to fall behind on responsibilities because of using marijuana and lack of motivation.
  • Cravings for marijuana begin bothering you when you’re not using.
  • You’re getting into more arguments with your partner or seeing less of your friends because of your drug use.
  • More of your time is taken up by drug use, and you have stopped doing other activities as a result.
  • You have used marijuana in risky situations or when you know it is harming your physical or mental health.
  • You may find that you need more of the drug, or a more potent version of it, to get high.
  • When you stop using marijuana you feel withdrawal symptoms.

Signs of Marijuana Abuse

Signs of physical dependence on marijuana, tolerance and withdrawal, are not that common when compared to other drugs. Using these physical signs as criteria for a use disorder has been controversial; the evidence that they occur with marijuana use is limited.3 If you have an issue with marijuana use it is more likely to take the form of changes in behaviors, activity levels and relationships.

If you are concerned that someone you care about is struggling with marijuana use, know the signs of being under the influence. Being intoxicated frequently, especially if it interferes with activities and responsibilities, can indicate he or she could use some help moderating intake or stopping use. Signs of marijuana intoxication include:4

  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Changes in senses and perceptions
  • Poor coordination
  • Difficulty remembering things or concentrating
  • Craving certain foods and eating a lot
  • Anxiety and paranoia
  • Cannabis odor on the fingers or in clothing
  • Red eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • Slow reaction times

Reach Out For Help

We provide holistic care and treatment using an individualized approach specifically tailored to your needs. Our goal is to help you lead a healthy, substance-free life with adaptive coping and problem-solving skills. Contact us today for more information on our certified staff of professionals and first-rate facilities.

  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
    https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-FFR1-2016/NSDUH-FFR1-2016.htm#illicit2
  2. Psychological Medicine. Cannabis Use Disorders in the USA: Prevalence, Correlates and Co-Morbidity. https://reference.medscape.com/medline/abstract/16854249
  3. Medscape. Cannabis-Related Disorders Clinical Presentation.
    https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/286661-clinical
  4. Mayo Clinic. Drug Addiction (Substance Use Disorder).
    https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/drug-addiction/symptoms-causes/syc-20365112
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