Marijuana is the dried flowers, seeds, stems, and leaves of Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica.1 The greenish-gray mixture is also known as weed, pot, grass, bud, Mary Jane, and other slang terms. Marijuana users can smoke hand-rolled cigarettes (joints), cigar wraps (blunts) or concentrates (dabs), inhale the drug from a pipe or water pipe (bongs), use a vape, or consume edibles.1 Marijuana use is on the rise among adults of all ages, but people between the ages of 18 to 25 use the most marijuana.2 In total, half of all Americans admit to using marijuana at least once.2
Cannabis plants contain dozens of chemical compounds or cannabinoids. Two main cannabinoids include tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).3 THC is a psychoactive compound that creates a high or state of euphoria that many users seek. CBD is non-psychoactive and can reduce pain, ease migraines and prevent seizures.
Smoking produces almost immediate results that last up to three hours.4 Consuming edibles delays THC’s effects for 30 to 60 minutes and generally produces less effective results, but users can experience the high for many hours.4 THC can remain detectable in the body for days or weeks, long after the effects wear off.4
On the surface, marijuana appears beneficial in many ways, but the product causes numerous negative physical, emotional and psychological effects. Users can become dependent on the drug and have trouble functioning in daily life. In these cases, marijuana addiction treatment can help people avoid marijuana use and cope with triggers. Therapy and other resources produce behavior changes, improve life skills and reduce relapse that can occur when recovering users face a temptation to smoke, inhale, vape, or consume marijuana.
Can Marijuana Become Addictive?
Users may turn to marijuana to relax, unwind or relieve pain. The THC in the drug can create immediate euphoria and relaxation. Some people also report an increase in laughter and a heightened sensory experience that brightens colors, amplifies sounds and enhances images.4
Pleasant experiences are not always the result of marijuana use, though. Sometimes, users experience anxiety, distrust, fear, panic, nausea, delusions, or hallucinations.4 These temporary effects eventually dissipate, but they’re serious nonetheless and can happen to users of all marijuana types and experience levels.
Marijuana users and advocates commonly share the physical and emotional benefits of pot as they support their use. They also claim that marijuana is socially acceptable,2 safe, harmless, and benign and will not cause any addiction problems. In fact, nearly three in four Americans believe that alcohol and tobacco cause more of a health risk than marijuana.2 However, science proves otherwise.
As many as one in 10 marijuana users will develop an addiction.5 The risk increases to 17% (one in six) among habitual users who started using weed as teens.5
In addition to these statistics, science shows that marijuana is addictive because the drug changes the user’s brain. THC connects to brain receptors and triggers chemical reactions and manipulations that feel relaxing, blissful and rewarding.4 The brain doesn’t shut down the receptors, and the altered brain eventually functions only at an optimal level when it’s under the influence of marijuana.
The altered brain may cause a person to experience an intense pleasure for a few hours. But marijuana can also create problems in almost every area of life and reduce a user’s overall quality of life. Some of these problems may last a short while, and other challenges last long-term.
- Brain health: Marijuana use can affect decision making and emotions,6 lower IQ permanently,7 and negatively affect memory, concentration, and learning for days or weeks.8
- Mental health: Marijuana use is linked to anxiety, depression, paranoia, suicidal thoughts, and psychotic episodes.4
- Physical health: Marijuana use may cause increased heart rate, lowered immunity, chronic bronchitis, respiratory infections, and pneumonia.9
- Physical capabilities: Marijuana use affects movement, coordination and balance, along with athletic performance.7
- Driving ability: Marijuana use slows reaction time, decreases coordination and increases sensory perception, which may cause drivers to weave across lanes or misread road signs and sounds.2
- Daily life: Marijuana use can affect educational outcomes, career achievements, social relationships, hobby involvement, and overall satisfaction with life.7
Because marijuana can be a dangerous and addictive drug, users benefit from marijuana addiction treatment. It helps users break their habit, find new ways of coping with their daily life challenges, and stay clean and healthy.
What are the Signs of Marijuana Addiction?
Someone who’s consumed with marijuana may think, “How long has it been since my last hit? When and where can I get more? What are the chances that I’ll get caught? What happens if I get caught? Why do I need more pot now to experience the same high as when I first started this stuff?”
These and other thoughts occupy every waking minute for people who have a marijuana addiction issue. All other thoughts, activities and even obligations take a back seat to marijuana. Someone with a marijuana addiction is unable to focus on the good things of life and instead thinks only of getting that next high and gaining the benefits of the drug.
A person with a marijuana addiction also has trouble stopping their drug use.5 When they try to stop, they may experience an intense and deep craving, along with irritability, restlessness, decreased appetite, physical discomfort, and an interruption to sleep, work, relationships, and hobbies.5 These symptoms of withdrawal generally peak within a week of quitting and may last up to two weeks.5
Living like this is hard for the person with an addiction and everyone around him or her. Marijuana addiction treatment can change everything, though. Someone who agrees to get help can see positive changes in every aspect of their life.
When Does Marijuana Use Require Intervention?
People with a marijuana addiction are not bad, weak or wrong. They simply need help to recover from a medical condition that will respond to marijuana addiction treatment. When the individual and family members address marijuana addiction as an illness, treatment becomes easier.
Getting a marijuana user to want treatment is a challenge sometimes. Users may point to the drug’s harmlessness, safety and legal status in many states as a reason to continue using.
Review the following signs to determine if you or someone you love needs an intervention.10
- Craving marijuana
- Hoarding drugs
- Losing interest in hobbies, social activities and work
- Failing to fulfill everyday tasks at home or work
- Tolerating higher doses of week
- Using the drug daily or multiple times a day
- Spending household money on marijuana
- Stealing or engaging in reckless behavior to get pot money
- Taking risks while under the influence
- Trying to quit but failing once or multiple times
How Does Legalization Affect Addiction and Rehab?
The legalization of pot in many states creates a stumbling block for some people who need marijuana addiction treatment. They may argue that if marijuana is legal, it can’t also be addictive.
Proponents of marijuana also argue that it’s safe and harmless. Plus, the physical, emotional and psychological benefits are important for users. The legal marijuana business also made $10 billion in 2017, an increase of 30% from the previous year,2 and a powerful reason to continue advocating for marijuana use.
Legalization doesn’t change the chemical effects of marijuana, though, or the everyday life challenges it creates for users. Legalization also doesn’t stop the cycle of addiction.
Consider the fact that people who enroll in marijuana addiction treatment programs tend to have used the drug daily for at least 10 years.11 Many treatment program participants have already tried to quit more than six times.11
Also, minors cannot use marijuana under legalization laws, yet, that law doesn’t stop minors from using marijuana. And teens are more likely to develop an addiction when they start using weed at a young age. The effects of marijuana on a child’s developing body and brain5 may also cause long-term challenges that hinder youth from enjoying the full life they deserve.
Marijuana may be a gateway drug, too, and cause a user to develop addictions to other substances.12 For example, marijuana use is linked to nicotine and other addictions.12 And a study of data from the National Epidemiological Study of Alcohol Use and Related Disorders found that adults who used marijuana were more likely to develop a new or worsening alcohol addiction.12
Today’s marijuana is also more potent than in previous decades. The average THC content in marijuana samples from the 1980s tested at 4%.13 By 2018, the THC content rose to an average of 15%.13 The increase in potency could mean that marijuana users today get a higher dose of the drug and may face even greater chances of developing an addiction.
The legalization of marijuana is one argument people give for using the drug, but pot’s legal status does not erase its negative impact on a user’s life. Addiction treatment and recovery remain vital resources that help a user overcome addiction and learn how to live successfully without the drug.
What Happens During Marijuana Addiction Treatment?
Marijuana addiction treatment includes resources that aid in drug withdrawal, lifestyle management and successful long-term recovery.
Therapy is the cornerstone of the program. A study conducted by the Addiction Science and Clinical Practice found that therapy gives treatment participants the ability to cope with and avoid drug use triggers that can cause a relapse.14 Participants may complete individual and group therapy sessions in different modalities, including: :
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Participants learn to identify problematic behaviors and make corrections as they improve self-control, address co-occurring challenges and stop using drugs.11
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): Participants manage painful emotions and decrease relational conflicts as they learn and practice mindfulness, emotional tolerance, emotion regulation, and effective communication.
- Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET): Participants gain rapid, internally motivated change through this systematic intervention that mobilizes the individual’s internal engagement and resources.11
In addition to therapy, other aspects of a successful recovery program equip participants to manage withdrawal symptoms, identify why they used marijuana, and learn lifestyle management and problem-solving skills that support life without drugs. These resources can include detox, exercise and meditation sessions, nutrition consultations, art therapy, journaling sessions, massage, recreation, and after-care support.
Marijuana addiction treatment also includes medical care that helps participants handle withdrawal symptoms and the other physical challenges of recovery. There are no FDA-approved medications that treat marijuana addiction.11 Participants may receive pain relievers, sleep aids and anti-anxiety medications, though, that support detox and a drug-free lifestyle.
Another beneficial aspect of a treatment program will include a regimented schedule that adds stability and security to each day. Staying busy reduces a participant’s time to think about, get or use drugs. A full schedule shows program participants how to fill their days with productive activities and helps a recovering pot user learn a new way of life that’s unlike the dysfunction that so often characterizes the addiction lifestyle.
In a holistic marijuana addiction treatment program, a user gets the help he or she needs to recover. The program supports the entire person, physically, emotionally and psychologically, and it creates a solid foundation that supports long-term recovery.
Start Marijuana Addiction Treatment Now
Marijuana is a powerful drug that can cause addiction and a variety of life challenges. When someone’s ready to address their addiction, the holistic treatment program at Harmony Place is available.
Now’s an excellent time to begin treatment. But even if someone is unable or unwilling to get help now, we stand ready to offer support.
Rest assured that you are not alone. You deserve help and a new life. We are here to help you start your new adventure.
Harmony Place is a leader in addiction treatment. Our team of experts specializes in marijuana addiction treatment, and we are committed to treating every program participant an individual who is worthy and capable of change. Call us today to talk about our holistic program. We’re available 24/7 at (855) 652-9048.
1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). What is marijuana?
2. National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics. Marijuana Addiction: Rates & Usage Statistics.
3. Healthline.com. (2019). Sativa vs. Indica: What to Expect Across Cannabis Types and Strains.
4. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). What are marijuana’s effects?
5. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Is marijuana addictive?
6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2018. Health effects.
7. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2020). Learn about marijuana risks.
8. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). How does marijuana affect school, work, and social life?
10. Mayo Clinic. (2017). Drug addiction (substance use disorder).
11. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Available treatments for marijuana use disorders.
12. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Is marijuana a gateway drug?
13. Marijuana Fact Check. Potency.
14. Budney, A. J., Roffman, R., Stephens, R. S., & Walker, D. (2007). Marijuana dependence and its treatment. Addiction science & clinical practice, 4(1), 4–16.