Can Marijuana Be Addictive?

Medical-use marijuana is now allowed in more than three dozen states, and a growing number of states have enacted legislation to de-criminalize recreational marijuana use among adults. With this trend towards acceptance of medical and recreational marijuana use, many people are asking, “Can marijuana be addictive?”

The simple answer is yes.

Nearly One in Three Marijuana Users Develop Marijuana Use Disorder

The use of marijuana, also known as cannabis, can trigger a wide range of physiological effects, leading to a condition called marijuana use disorder.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a branch of the National Institutes of Health, an estimated 30% of marijuana users may be suffering from marijuana use disorder. This number skyrockets among youth under the age of 18 who use marijuana, as the risk of developing marijuana use disorder is between four and seven times greater for teens than adults.

What Is Marijuana Use Disorder?

Just like with any other substance such as alcohol, illegal drugs or prescription medications, marijuana use can lead to dependence and addiction. Dependence on marijuana is characterized by physical, emotional and cognitive issues that occur when a regular marijuana user isn’t consuming the drug, or when they consume less than they normally do.

Common symptoms of marijuana withdrawal among those with marijuana dependence include:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness and trouble focusing
  • Mood swings
  • Reduced appetite
  • Headaches
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Constipation and/or loose stool
  • Trouble concentrating

These symptoms are believed to be caused by the changes that occur in the brain when an individual uses large amounts of marijuana. Over time, marijuana use can suppress the natural production of endocannabinoids in the body, so when a heavy marijuana users reduces their intake of the drug, they can experience a number of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms for anywhere from one to two weeks. While withdrawal, also known as detoxing, from marijuana can be difficult, it does not involve the same health risks that are associated with detoxing from alcohol and many other prescription and street drugs.

Signs and Symptoms of Marijuana Addiction

The signs and symptoms of marijuana addiction are similar to what individuals who have other addictions experience. These include:

  • Increased tolerance. Individuals who are addicted to marijuana often need to use larger and larger doses in order to get ‘high’.
  • Drug-seeking behaviors. Marijuana addicts may spend a great deal of time sourcing their drugs rather than engaging in healthy day-to-day activities.
  • Isolation from family and friends. As with all forms of addiction, marijuana addiction can lead to social isolation.
  • Difficulty with activities of daily living. Addiction to marijuana may make it difficult to hold down a job, attend school or maintain healthy social relationships.

Concerned About Your Marijuana Use?

If you or someone you love is struggling with marijuana abuse or addiction, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. Here at East Point Recovery Services, we have the intervention specialty you need to help. Give us a call today!