Marijuana is a commonly abused substance, and it can also be highly addictive. Fortunately, professional marijuana addiction treatment is available.

Marijuana is one of the most commonly abused substances in the United States. Although many people are under the impression that marijuana is not addictive, the drug is a Schedule I controlled substance that carries a high risk of abuse, addiction and dependence. If you or someone you love uses marijuana, it is important to understand the drug’s addictive potential and learn where to turn for help.

Growing, possessing or smoking marijuana remains illegal in Georgia at this time. However, people with certain medical conditions can register with the Georgia Department of Public Health and obtain a Low-THC Oil Registry Card. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main psychoactive component in weed. With this card, a person may possess 20 ounces or less of low-THC oil.

Can You Get Addicted to Marijuana?

It is possible to become addicted to marijuana. In fact, after alcohol and tobacco, marijuana is the third most common addictive substance in America. Overall, about 30% of people who use marijuana have a marijuana use disorder, and about 10% of marijuana users will become addicted. 

Similar to other substance use disorders, people with a marijuana use disorder continue to use the drug even if they know they are experiencing negative consequences. A marijuana addiction can be hard to recover from without help.

Signs of Marijuana Abuse

When a person begins to struggle with marijuana, they often show certain signs or symptoms. These symptoms may be the first sign that you or someone you love is becoming addicted to the drug. Signs and symptoms of marijuana abuse and addiction can include:

  • Using more marijuana than intended, or using it for longer than intended 
  • Previous unsuccessful efforts to cut back or stop marijuana use
  • Spending a lot of time obtaining, using or recovering from marijuana 
  • Cravings for marijuana
  • Problems meeting commitments at work, school or home due to marijuana use
  • Using marijuana even though it causes or worsens life problems 
  • Giving up or cutting back on other activities because of marijuana 
  • Using marijuana even when it is hazardous to do so
  • Needing increasingly larger amounts of marijuana to achieve the same effects as before
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms if marijuana is stopped

Short-Term Effects of Marijuana

Marijuana causes side effects that can vary widely from person to person. Further, due to variation in marijuana potency, side effects can be hard to predict — even if a person regularly uses marijuana. Side effects of marijuana use include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Fast heartbeat 
  • Blood pressure changes
  • Facial flushing
  • Dry mouth
  • Tremor
  • Coordination problems 
  • Increased appetite 
  • Sedation
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Euphoria
  • Disinhibition
  • Relaxation
  • Enhanced sensory perception
  • Increased imagination
  • Time distortion 
  • Impaired judgment
  • Emotional changes
  • Short-term memory loss

Long-Term Effects of Marijuana

Over the long term, chronic marijuana use can cause a variety of health problems. These include chronic lung conditions like emphysema and asthma. Neurological and psychological problems are also possible. Specifically, reduced cognition and the worsening of mental health problems like schizophrenia have been linked to long-term marijuana use.

Is Marijuana a Gateway Drug? 

For some people, marijuana is a gateway drug. Although most people who use marijuana do not develop an addiction or use other substances, those who do often begin with either marijuana, alcohol or tobacco. In addition, exposure to marijuana early in life may lead to substance use disorders in adulthood. Research suggests that using marijuana while young may predispose you to addiction to other substances as you get older.

Is Rehab Necessary for Marijuana Addiction?

Some people may benefit from rehab while struggling with marijuana addiction. By definition, addiction results in negative consequences in your life. If a person struggles to stop using marijuana despite these negative consequences, they may need help or support to quit the drug. This type of assistance is provided in rehab, which is tailored specifically to help people overcome their substance use.

Marijuana Withdrawal and Detox

Over time, it is possible to become physically dependent on marijuana. With physical dependence, your body and brain have been conditioned to expect the presence of the drug. The drug becomes required for you to function normally, meaning that if you suddenly stop the drug, you may experience withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms are common and impact about a third of regular marijuana users.

Although specifics can vary based on the person, marijuana withdrawal symptoms typically follow a general timeline. Symptoms often start one to three days after the last time marijuana was used. They then peak within the first week and may last as long as two weeks. However, some symptoms may last longer. For example, sleep disturbances can last for up to a month.

Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms

There are many different marijuana withdrawal symptoms, but these symptoms can vary depending on the person. Symptoms include:

  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Aggression
  • Anxiety 
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Disturbing dreams
  • Decreased appetite 
  • Weight loss 
  • Restlessness 
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Shakiness 
  • Tremors 
  • Sweating 
  • Fever 
  • Chills 
  • Headache

At-Home Detox

Some people may try to quit marijuana on their own at home. Unfortunately, there is little information available on how to manage an at-home marijuana detox. As a result, people who try to detox at home are often left with inadequate support as they struggle with withdrawal symptoms. If you want to quit marijuana on your own at home, it is best to involve your doctor in your plans. Your doctor will be able to tell you if an at-home detox is appropriate for your situation.

Medical Detox

Medical detox is different from at-home detox in many ways. While in medical detox, you stay in an residential detox unit with round-the-clock medical care. Doctors and nurses are immediately able to treat withdrawal symptoms as they arise, which helps promote a safer and more comfortable detox process. 

Marijuana Addiction Treatment

Medical detox helps cleanse your body of cannabis and prepares you for rehab, which is a key component in staying off marijuana long-term. Effective rehab treatment strategies to help you stay marijuana-free include both therapy and motivational counseling. Therapy helps you explore why you began to rely on marijuana, while motivational counseling helps you make positive changes in your behavior.

Get Help Today

If you or someone you love struggles with marijuana abuse and addiction, our experts at The Recovery Village Atlanta are here to help. We offer a full continuum of care, ranging from medical detox and residential treatment to partial hospitalization services and long-term aftercare. Contact us today to learn more about marijuana addiction treatment programs, and take the first step toward a healthier, substance-free life in recovery.

The Recovery Village - Atlanta
By – The Recovery Village Atlanta
The Recovery Village Atlanta builds tailored treatment plans with an understanding that addiction is a mental health disorder and a chronic disease. Read more
Jonathan-Strum
Editor – Jonathan Strum
Jonathan Strum graduated from the University of Nebraska Omaha with a Bachelor's in Communication in 2017 and has been writing professionally ever since. Read more
Jessica-Pyhtila
Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD
Dr. Jessica Pyhtila is a Clinical Pharmacy Specialist based in Baltimore, Maryland with practice sites in inpatient palliative care and outpatient primary care at the Department of Veteran Affairs. Read more
Sources

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village Atlanta aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.