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Is Marijuana Really Addictive?

Jun 18, 2020

If you were to rank the perceived risk of using marijuana, in any form, it would likely end up somewhere lower than heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamines. The perception that marijuana is “safer” leads many users to believe there’s no real harmful effects from it, including any possibility of becoming addicted. Today, let’s look closer at whether or not marijuana is really addictive and how to tell if your use of it can be considered a substance use disorder.

Although considered among the “safer” substances, marijuana can be addictive, especially when use begins before age 18. Higher potency in marijuana through increased levels of THC can add to the risk of addiction in regular users. Symptoms, such as cravings, restlessness, and irritability, can accompany withdrawal periods from marijuana, and options for treatment include residential programs as well as Intensive Outpatient Programs when a patient is already detoxed and remains medically stable.

How often do you smoke marijuana or consume it in other forms?

Daily marijuana use does not automatically indicate a substance use disorder. For some people, it may be strictly used for medicinal purposes, including appetite loss, cancer, epilepsy, nausea, eating disorders, pain, and numerous other diagnosable conditions.

Are you finding you need to increase the amount to achieve the same results?

As your tolerance builds, you may feel compelled to use marijuana more frequently or in increasingly higher amounts at one time. This may lead to more money spent on buying marijuana and more risk involved with obtaining it if you’re living in a state where it’s considered illegal.

Is it interfering with your work, relationships, or responsibilities?  

This is a warning sign that marijuana use has negatively impacted your life. Your use has reached a point where it’s affected your job, your relationships with family members or friends, and your ability to take care of your responsibilities. At this stage, you continue marijuana use despite some of the negative consequences, including losing a job.

At what age did you start using marijuana?

People who started using before age 18 are at an increased risk of developing a substance use disorder associated with marijuana. One study puts it at four to seven times more likely to develop an SUD compared to someone who started using marijuana as an adult.

Do you notice withdrawal symptoms when you stop using?

After your brain has adapted to an amount of marijuana smoked or consumed through edibles, quitting abruptly or going days without using can lead to a variety of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. They can include restlessness, irritability, loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, moodiness, and cravings. If you switched from a strain with a lower level of THC to one with a higher level, you may also begin experiencing side effects, including an increased heart rate, a drop in blood pressure, coordination problems, slower reaction times, and even panic, paranoia, and hallucinations.

Is it safe to begin withdrawal from marijuana use at home?

If you feel your marijuana use has reached a point of dependence and you want to stop using, it’s recommended you contact a physician as a first step to discuss your options. Although it’s considered safer than heroin, cocaine, or benzos (which require a medically-supervised detox), a detox from marijuana can be accompanied by physical symptoms and mental symptoms that create discomfort.

What kind of treatment is available for substance use disorders involving marijuana?

Inpatient and outpatient programs are available for marijuana users who want to begin recovering from the effects of smoking or consuming the drug. For patients with a co-occurring mental health disorder, dual diagnosis treatment is offered at multidisciplinary facilities experienced in treating people with both a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder.

Origins Recovery Center is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 866-875-1558.

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