Marijuana Addiction | Abuse, Effects, & Treatment

Between 10 to 30 percent of people who smoke marijuana develop a marijuana use disorder at some point in their life.

Marijuana addiction is a mental health condition where you are unable to stop smoking marijuana, despite negative consequences on your health and lifestyle. It is also known as marijuana use disorder or cannabis use disorder.

Marijuana is a popular drug throughout the United States. Advocates of the drug may argue that marijuana is less addictive than other illicit drugs, but uncontrolled use of marijuana can alter your brain chemistry and lead to dependence, two signs of addiction.

Some states, such as Colorado and California, have legalized both medical and recreational marijuana use, but use of the drug still has a potential for abuse, addiction, and dependency.

How Marijuana Abuse Can Lead To Addiction

Between 10 to 30 percent of people who smoke marijuana develop a marijuana use disorder at some point in their life.

Marijuana’s main ingredient, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), binds to cannabinoid receptors in parts of the brain associated with pleasure, memory, concentration, and movement. Marijuana also releases dopamine in the brain, a neurotransmitter that encourages repeated drug use when released.

Repeated use can lead to marijuana dependence, where your body physically needs the drug to release dopamine in the brain.

Marijuana Addiction Among Young Adults

Smoking marijuana as a young adult increases the risk of developing a marijuana use disorder later on in life. Marijuana use before the age of 18 can make you 4 to 7 times more likely to have a marijuana use disorder compared to adults who start smoking marijuana.

Effects Of Marijuana Addiction

The effects of marijuana on your body and brain can extend into the long-term. Negative health effects may not be reason enough for some people to quit, especially those suffering from a substance use disorder.

Medical marijuana use can have positive health effects, but recreational, unregulated marijuana use may increase your health risk in the long-term.

Physical Effects

Marijuana causes many short-term effects, such as red eyes, increased appetite, trouble with concentration and coordination, changes in perception, impairment, and sluggishness. A person showing these symptoms frequently may be constantly smoking marijuana.

Marijuana also has long-term health effects. Respiratory problems have been observed due to long-term marijuana use.

Mental Health Effects

Marijuana can alter your brain chemistry in the long-term, leading to mental health effects such as:

  • an increased risk of depression
  • smoking marijuana despite problems in your personal or professional life
  • continued use despite ongoing health problems
  • trying and failing to quit smoking marijuana
  • experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you try to quit, such as cravings or sleep problems

Some studies suggest marijuana use in adolescents can affect their brain development, leading to permanent changes in memory, cognition, and IQ. More research may be needed to determine whether marijuana is a definite cause of memory loss.

​Treatment For Marijuana Addiction

Treatment options for marijuana addiction are similar to treatments for opioids, stimulants, and other forms of drug addiction. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, contingency management, and motivational interviewing can be effective in treating marijuana use disorder.

There are no approved medications that can treat marijuana addiction in the U.S. However, studies have been conducted on sleep aids, anti-anxiety medications, and drugs that interact with cannabinoid receptors. More research may be needed on all of these medications.

If you or a loved one live with marijuana use disorder, call Northeast Addictions Treatment Center for a treatment program that puts your needs first.

Keep Reading:


Can You Get Addicted To Marijuana?

Yes. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), about 30% of people who use marijuana develop some level of marijuana use disorder.

That means they become physically dependent on the drug. When they stop using it, they may experience withdrawal symptoms like mood swings, loss of appetite, and trouble sleeping.

When left untreated, marijuana use disorder can turn into marijuana addiction. This disease makes you feel unable to stop using marijuana despite negative consequences.

You face a higher risk of marijuana use disorder and marijuana addiction if you use the drug every day or are a teenager.

To learn more, read Is Marijuana Really Addictive?

How Long Can Marijuana Be Detected In A Urine Test?

Cannabis consumption can be detected in urine longer than many other drugs, though this timeframe varies significantly between chronic users/heavy users (10-30 days), moderate or occasional users (7-21 days), and infrequent users (1-3) days.

To learn more, read How Long Can Marijuana Be Detected In Your Urine?

Where Is Marijuana Legal In The U.S.?

Medical marijuana is legal in 36 states and Washington, D.C., and recreational marijuana is legal in 18 states. Marijuana possession is decriminalized in 27 states, meaning a person caught with marijuana may no longer serve prison time.

Learn more about Marijuana Legalization By State

Can You Overdose On Marijuana?

It is possible to overdose on marijuana but it is very unlikely. There have not been any overdose cases due to only marijuana. However, mixing marijuana with other substances like alcohol and opioids can lead to an overdose and serious health issues.

Learn more about Marijuana Overdose

What Is Rick Simpson Oil?

Rick Simpson Oil is a cannabis oil product that contains a high level of THC compared to other products. RSO can be used in a variety of ways, with some even stating that it can help with cancerous skin cells.

RSO cannabinoid oil can be replicated at home, but is likely dangerous due to the ingredients and steps that must take place before use.

Learn more about Rick Simpson Oil

What Is Shatter?

Shatter is a form of processed hash oil that is extremely potent. By using a solvent to extract terpenes, trichomes, and cannabidiol (CBD) from the marijuana, THC remains as a potent psychedelic part of the drug.

This causes one to feel euphoria and sedation. Shatter is likely used with a water pipe or vape pen and gives you a much stronger high than that exhibited from smoking cannabis.

Learn more about Shatter

What Does Marijuana Smell Like?

While marijuana can have different scents depending on the strain, it generally has a woodsy, earthy, or skunky odor. Different strains can add fruity, citrusy, and spicy notes.

To learn more, read What Does Marijuana Smell Like?

Written by
Northeast Addition Editorial Team

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This page does not provide medical advice.

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