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Marijuana Addiction | Abuse, Withdrawal, & Treatment Options

young man holding a small bag of marijuana bud nuggets

Marijuana is one of the most popular recreational drugs. Although it has been illegal across the United States for decades, it has recently attained legal status in many states. 

Nonetheless, even though it may be a legal drug in many locations, marijuana can still be dangerous when abused. If you or a loved one is addicted to marijuana, seeking treatment is recommended. 

What Is Marijuana?

Marijuana is a substance made from the leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant. It contains active compounds like cannabidiol that are not mind-altering, as well as a mind-altering compound known as tetrahydrocannabinol or “THC.” 

The greater the concentration of THC, the more potent the marijuana will be. 

Marijuana is available in a variety of forms, including: 

  • flower that is smoked in a pipe, joint, or bong
  • edible food or candy that’s consumed
  • waxy or oil concentrates that are vaporized 

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), marijuana is the most widely used psychotropic drug in the country. 

Is Marijuana Really Addictive?

Throughout the years, it has been argued that marijuana is not addictive and is therefore not a dangerous drug. However, this theory is not backed by research. 

In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that as many as 30 percent of marijuana users will become addicted or suffer from what’s known as marijuana use disorder. 

In addition, marijuana abuse can lead to the use of other drugs. Although not everyone who uses marijuana will move onto a more dangerous drug, some people will. 

Marijuana may be considered less dangerous than other drugs, but it can still have a negative impact on your life. Marijuana use is associated with poorer physical and mental health, as well as lower life satisfaction overall. 

Can You Overdose On Marijuana?

A fatal marijuana overdose is highly unlikely. However, it’s still possible to use too much marijuana at one time and suffer accidental injury or other negative consequences. 

Some of the signs of using too much marijuana at one time include:

  • hallucinations or delusions
  • nausea and vomiting
  • increased blood pressure
  • fast heart rate
  • panic or paranoia
  • anxiety
  • confusion

Someone who has used too much marijuana may become a danger to themselves or others and should be monitored carefully until the symptoms have passed. 

Symptoms Of Marijuana Use Disorder

The potential for addiction is lower for marijuana than for some other drugs. Nonetheless, many people still become addicted to this substance. 

Some of the signs of marijuana use disorder may include:

  • regular use of marijuana, especially if it interferes with important responsibilities 
  • unsuccessful attempts to stop using marijuana 
  • talking about marijuana frequently 
  • spending a lot of time or money obtaining marijuana 
  • continuing to use marijuana despite problems at work, school or home 
  • choosing to use marijuana instead of fulfilling responsibilities, spending time with family, or engaging in other positive activities

In some cases, you may not be sure whether your loved one’s use of marijuana qualifies as an addiction. If you have concerns, try to talk to the individual about their drug use and encourage them to make an appointment with a professional for an evaluation. 

Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms & Detox

Someone preparing to enter a marijuana addiction treatment program will first need to stop using marijuana, which can lead to withdrawal symptoms. 

While someone is going through marijuana withdrawal, the following symptoms are common:

  • insomnia
  • low-quality of sleep
  • low appetite
  • intense cravings for marijuana
  • anxiety
  • irritability

When these symptoms are severe or bothersome, the individual may be less likely to maintain sobriety. For this reason, professional detox programs are generally recommended. 

These programs offer much-needed services during the withdrawal process, including supervision to prevent relapse, medical care, and psychological support. 

Marijuana Addiction Treatment Options

Marijuana addiction is best treated in a professional rehab program. The exact type of program required depends on the individual’s background, preferences, and resources. 

However, some of the options typically available to patients with marijuana addiction include:

  • Inpatient treatment—For patients who need continuous support and supervision during treatment, inpatient care may be recommended. These programs offer 24/7 services to ensure that patients have the best chance of making a full recovery. 
  • Outpatient treatment—Outpatient treatment programs require patients to come to a specific number of treatment sessions each week. These programs are most appropriate for people with less severe addictions and a good support system at home. 
  • Group therapy—Group therapy may be used in either inpatient or outpatient treatment programs. The goal of this therapy is to allow patients to support one another as they work toward recovery. 
  • Behavioral therapy—Behavioral therapy is another treatment approach that may be offered on an inpatient or outpatient basis. This therapy helps marijuana users to recognize and change negative thought and behavior patterns. 

For more information on our treatment programs, please contact us today.

Marijuana FAQ

Does Cannabis Lower Dopamine Levels In The Brain?

THC, an active ingredient in cannabis, is known to block activity of the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain. This leads to a short-term increase in dopamine activity, resulting in a high.

However, frequent or long-term cannabis use can cause the body to shut down dopamine receptors, lowering active dopamine levels for extended periods of time. 

Low dopamine levels are associated with serious mental and physical disorders, and can leave you feeling depressed and unable to take pleasure in your daily life.

Learn more about Marijuana & Dopamine Levels

How Long Does Marijuana Stay In Your System?

The length of time that marijuana stays in your system can vary considerably. However, it generally lasts about 2-28 days. The length of time is greater in people who use marijuana frequently.

Read How Long Does Marijuana Stay In Your System to learn more

Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
This page does not provide medical advice.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Marijuana and Public Health
National Institute on Drug Abuse - Marijuana DrugFacts
National Library of Medicine - The marijuana withdrawal syndrome: diagnosis and treatment

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