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Is Marijuana Addictive?

Mental and physical addiction can occur with marijuana. The longer marijuana is used the greater the risk of developing dependence or addiction. Despite the positive medicinal benefits some may get from smoking marijuana, addiction can affect a person’s work, social, and home life.

Marijuana Ingredients

Marijuana is made of plant matter consisting of: stems, seeds, shredded leaves and flowers which come from the cannabis plant. All or some of the parts are dried and rolled into joints or packed into pipes and even cooked into food. Other times marijuana may be brewed like a tea. The main psychoactive substance is called THC, which reacts on the body and brain to create a feeling of euphoria.

How Addictive is Marijuana?

Marijuana is fairly addictive and can trigger euphoric effects. When people smoke the drug, THC travels directly to cannabinoid receptors in the nerve endings in the brain which regulate memory, coordination, higher cognitive function and pleasure receptors. Cannabis also disrupts the brain’s processes which include overstimulation of CBR receptors that lead to dependence on the drug. While the addiction is not a physical dependence like an opiate addiction, marijuana use is habit forming and should be approached with caution.

Dependence vs. Addiction

When the presence of a substance is in the body, it naturally alters and changes to accommodate the interactions in the body. THC is the same way in that when a person is dependent on THC, withdrawal symptoms occur when it is stopped. Withdrawal is the way a body re-regulates normal body function without the presence of the drug. Addiction to weed is characterized by compulsive needs to use weed and drug use is rationalized when people feel the need to use it just to function on a daily basis.

How it Happens

Abuse of marijuana and addiction can happen for several reasons:

  • Binge smoking
  • Experimenting with weed and other drugs at the same time
  • Using different types of weed for different things
  • Increased use over time

Weed can take longer than other drugs to develop tolerance and addiction in the body and mind but the potency of THC has increased over the years and increases the potential for weed to become addictive. Adolescents are much more susceptible to weed addiction without fully developed rains. The neural pathways can become permanently altered and never regain normal function which impacts memory and cognition.


If you suspect a loved one is struggling with marijuana addiction, there is hope. Harmony Place is a state licensed treatment facility and leader in evidence-based treatment for co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders. Contact us at 1-888-789-4330 to find out how we can help support you or your loved one in seeking treatment.