Marijuana is a safe drug because it isn’t ever addictive, right?

Wrong. This is a commonly held belief about marijuana, totally unsupported by research. As many as 30% of marijuana usershave a marijuana use disorder.

If you think someone you love might be addicted to marijuana, it’s important they seek help. To learn why the answer to “is marijuana addictive?” is yes, and the options for recovering, read on.

Is Marijuana Addictive?

Using marijuana can lead to a marijuana use disorder. In severe cases, that can result in addiction. If you know someone who started using before the age of 18, they’re up to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder.

What Is a Marijuana Use Disorder?

Think of marijuana use disorder as a dependence on the drug.

If you have a marijuana use disorder and stop taking the drug, you’re likely to experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can include irritability, sleep difficulties, mood alteration, low appetite and a general sense of restlessness.

These symptoms are at their strongest in the first week after stopping marijuana use. They’ll continue for up to 2 weeks.

What Causes Marijuana Dependence?

The withdrawal symptoms of marijuana dependence are a result of the ways taking the drug has reduced the production of your body’s own endocannabinoid neurotransmitters. Marijuana not only introduces cannabinoids into the system, but it also triggers your body’s increased production of them.

When you stop using, your body has to reset its endocannabinoid system.

What Are the Signs?

Like with other addictions, marijuana use disorder becomes an addiction when you see someone choosing to take marijuana even when they are aware of the negative consequences it will have.

Users will seek out the marijuana high even if they know it will cause problems at work, in their friendships, their relationships, or to their financial health.

Some of the signs of marijuana addiction include:

1. Tolerance

This means that each time you’re needing to take more and more of the drug to get the same ‘high’ you used to with a relatively small quantity. Tolerance and withdrawal are both signs of your body’s increasing dependence on the drug.

2. No Limits

Ever find that you take way more pot than you meant to? Perhaps you start out thinking you’ll just have a puff or two, and before you know it you’ve smoked the whole joint.

Now you can’t concentrate at work or study and miss the party your friends are waiting for you at.

3. It’s Hard to Cut Down

You’ve already seen your drug use is a problem. You decide to cut down. But when the moment comes to actually do it, you lose your determination and keep taking as much as you were before.

4. No Other Activities

You used to go to the gym a few times a week. Your partner used to love Sunday evenings at the cinema. These just don’t seem to happen anymore.

It even seems your dog has given up on the idea of a daily walk. He used to run for his leash and wait by the door in the mornings, but he’s learning you’re not leaving the house anytime soon.

This is another indicator of addiction. Increasingly, you’re choosing marijuana over daily activities, and it’s impacting on your life and your relationships.

5. Using It as an Escape

If you’ve had a tough day at work or an argument with your partner, is marijuana your first thought? Many addicts start to use marijuana as their escape from the world.

This is a key way that the problem gets worse quickly. Marijuana use has negative consequences, which you dull by using more. This leads to a downward spiral of marijuana abuse.

Why It’s Not Taken Seriously

Many don’t take marijuana use as seriously as other drugs as they’re not aware that the marijuana people use today is very different from what was around in the previous decades.

Marijuana potency is steadily increasing. Marijuana confiscated in the 1990s had a THC potency of 3.7%. Five years ago, it was 12.2 percent, and can now be between 50 and 80 percent. 

This is particularly concerning in adolescents since their brains are still developing.

Not much is known about how much more of an effect ‘new’ marijuana might have. High concentrations of THC affect the body much more strongly in the short-term, but we need more research on the long-term consequences of its use.

What Help Is Available?

If you’re hearing your own experience in some of these examples, or that of a loved one, the good news is that you’re not alone. Help for marijuana addiction exists and is easier to connect with than you think.

Detoxing from marijuana can be unpleasant at first. With the right support, you’ll transition from detox to rehab and onto recovery, smoothly.

The power of the rehabilitation process is it equips you with insights into why you developed a marijuana use disorder. Armed with the knowledge of why it happened, you’ll have a recovery toolkit to employ healthier coping mechanisms in the future.

It’s Time to Get Help

Now you know if someone asks “is marijuana addictive?” the answer is yes.

With the right support, you can get clean and on the path to recovery. By stopping marijuana abuse, you can get your life, health, and your relationships back on track. Or that of your loved one.

The good news is you don’t need to do it alone, you can connect to experienced professionals for support. For advice on the next steps toward recovery, get in contact with 1st Step Behavioral Health today.

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