Understanding Marijuana Addiction

In recent years, the public perception of marijuana has changed significantly. Many people now view it as fairly harmless, even helpful—and it is true that marijuana can, in some cases, have positive, medicinal qualities. It is just as true that marijuana can be powerfully addicting. It can create a physical and emotional dependence that requires greater and greater amounts of marijuana in order to satisfy. When that happens, it can take an enormous toll on personal health, finances, and relationships.

Addiction is a problem that persists and deepens over time—and as such, recovery itself is an ongoing, lifelong process. There is freedom from addiction’s hold. The first step is to admit to the problem and seek clinical treatment.

Can people become addicted to Marijuana?

Not everyone who uses marijuana becomes an addict, but the risk for addiction is always there. Marijuana use can quickly descend into problem use, a form of addiction. According to some research, about a third of all marijuana users are problem users, and therefore would benefit from an addiction recovery program.

Some people are more susceptible to marijuana addiction than others. Those who start marijuana use before they turn 18 are in a high risk category. In fact, these individuals are four to seven times more likely to develop problem marijuana use as adults.

Marijuana addiction is characterized by a form of dependence. That is, when you cease use of the drug, you can experience withdrawal symptoms. It feels as though the only way you can make those pains go away is with more marijuana. This is what makes marijuana addiction so tough to shake without the aid of clinical treatment.

What comes first, drug addiction or mental illness?

Often, marijuana use occurs at the same time as another, related mental health disorder—depression, anxiety, a personality disorder, or another mental illness. People often want to know which comes first, the addiction or the mental illness. The relationship between the two can be complicated. Sometimes, marijuana is sought as a kind of self-medication, a way to cope with the symptoms of the illness. In other instances, the addiction and the mental health disorder may be rooted in the same issue of brain chemistry or physiology. Seeking dual diagnosis care can help you get to the bottom of the issue.

What are the signs and symptoms of marijuana addiction?

There are several common signs and symptoms of marijuana addiction. A few of them to watch out for, in your own life and in the life of a loved one, include:

  • Feelings of intense anxiety or depression
  • Slowed speech or “cotton mouth”
  • A diminished memory or cognitive ability

Other Signs of Marijuana Addiction

  • Psychosis, distrust, paranoia or fear
  • A sense of pleasure that you can only achieve with marijuana, and that leaves you feeling melancholy when the effects of the drug wear off.

The presence of any of these symptoms points to the need for clinical intervention.

How do you know if there is a co-occurring disorder?

Another common question about marijuana use: How can you tell if there is a co-occurring condition? Often, it is quite hard to tell. The symptoms of the addiction can mask the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other underlying disorders; after all, anxiety and depression can themselves be symptoms of marijuana addiction. The best way to find the underlying cause of things is to seek dual diagnosis care, which will provide insight not just into the addiction but also to other, co-occurring disorders—ensuring that you are treating each issue, rather than leaving one illness neglected.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment for marijuana addiction and mental health disorders

Dual diagnosis care will ensure that you are treating each underlying mental health condition—not just the outward symptoms. That is why 1st Step is proud to provide dual diagnosis care. We believe in treating the individual—not the addiction—and as such we customize our approach to each client’s needs. Group and individual therapies are both used, as well as support groups and experiential/activity-based treatments. We also provide the framework for ongoing, lifelong sobriety and life skills.

Learn more about how to get help

For those living with addiction, it might seem hopeless or bleak—but there is always a chance for recovery. The first step is to treat dual diagnosis care through a facility like 1st Step. Don’t delay in getting free from addiction, as well as other co-occurring conditions. Contact our team today to begin the process.