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Marijuana Overdose Symptoms and Treatment

  1. Article SummaryPrint
  2. Effects of Marijuana
  3. Overdose Symptoms
  4. Overdose Treatment

Marijuana -- also known as cannabis -- is a dry mix of brown and green leaves, stems, and flowers of the cannabis sativa plant. There are a variety of different street names for marijuana, including:

  • Ganja
  • Reefer
  • Dope
  • Grass
  • Weed

projectknow-shutter265318232-marijuana-leafMarijuana is usually smoked in special cigarettes known as joints, although it can also be smoked using pipes or bongs. Some individuals even mix it into drinks or food. The main active compound in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. It is this chemical that causes the marijuana "high."

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), marijuana is the most-abused drug in the United States and most popular among young people. Although marijuana overdose symptoms are rare, it is not impossible for people to overdose on the drug. If you believe you have problems with marijuana addiction, please call our confidential helpline at 1-888-287-0471.


Marijuana first appeared in the United States in the 1920s, where it was popular with Mexican immigrants. After suffering many popularity dips and highs, marijuana was finally listed as a Schedule I drug in 1970. Despite calls for legalization on medical grounds, marijuana still remains an illicit drug.

Effects of Marijuana

When individuals smoke marijuana, the chemical THC travels from the lungs into the bloodstream. It then goes quickly to the brain and other major organs. When the THC connects with certain nerve cells in the brain, it can affect a person's memory, coordination, and sensory and pleasure perception. It is this chemical reaction that causes the marijuana high. Short-term effects caused by marijuana use include:

  • Distorted perception
  • Feelings of relaxation
  • Problems with memory
  • Loss of coordination
  • Increased appetite
  • Incessant talking and laughter

While marijuana overdose symptoms are rare, they can happen and usually occur because of an individual's lack of awareness. There are also long-term effects associated with marijuana use, in particular in people who use large amounts of the drug on a regular basis. The marijuana effects include:

  • Fertility implications
  • Blood pressure problems
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Mental health issues
  • Breathing problems

In addition to possible long-term effects, marijuana use has also been linked to the eventual use of harder drugs. According to the Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR), individuals who have used marijuana at least six times are 14 times more likely to use heroin.


Marijuana is the main ingredient in a highly potent tea known as bhang, which is especially popular in India.

Overdose Symptoms

While marijuana overdose symptoms are not common, incidents of cannabis overdose have risen in the past decade. According to CESAR, this is due to the increased levels of THC in modern marijuana, which is believed to be around 10 times higher than it was in the 1960s. Individuals who are suffering from a marijuana overdose will usually display the following symptoms:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Problems breathing
  • Extreme feelings of paranoia

Signs of an overdose on marijuana may also include the individual becoming completely unresponsive and falling into a state of unconsciousness. According to Drug War Facts, cases of marijuana overdose deaths in the United States have usually involved another substance in addition to marijuana. Marijuana by itself has never caused an overdose death in the United States to date. If you believe you have a problem with marijuana, please feel free to call our confidential helpline at 1-888-287-0471.


While individuals will rarely become physically addicted to marijuana, intensive use of the drug can lead to a loss of self-control and psychological symptoms of addiction. This means the drug goes from being something the individual does for fun to being something that is necessary for the individual to function. Severe marijuana use can lead to problems in a person's personal relationships and employment.

Overdose Treatment

Marijuana overdose treatment is usually symptomatic, with medical professionals treating any physical symptoms to ensure the individual is safe. Relaxation techniques and medication will be used to reduce a person's heart rate and curb any panic attacks. If the overdose involves another substance -- such as alcohol or another illicit drug -- individuals will need to be given emergency treatment. Because other substances can increase the effects of marijuana, an overdose can result in serious and even fatal consequences. Medical professionals will supervise an individual until they are sure that all effects of the drug have worn off.

Once the physical symptoms have been dealt with, the individual will be referred to supportive therapy. This helps the person deal with the marijuana addiction and resist the temptation to use the drug again. Therapy usually consists of addressing the individual's triggers to use marijuana, as well as teaching the person various coping and problem-solving strategies. Individuals who are able to solve problems and deal with stressful situations in their lives are less likely to turn to marijuana to relax and feel better.


Water pipes are becoming increasingly popular among marijuana users, as they allow them to heat the drug until it vaporizes.

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  1. Question: What is a physical addiction?Submitted By: Arlene B.

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      A physical addiction is where the body becomes tolerant to a drug and requires more to function normally. The body stops producing certain chemicals because the drug is creating them. Once the drug is withdrawn, the body will take a while to restart production of these chemicals.

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      A psychological addiction is where person feels as though he or she cannot function without the drug, particularly in stressful or social situations.

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      A number of cough medicines contain dextromethorphan, also known as DMX, or codeine, which are addictive substances.

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