Marijuana is a mind-altering drug that is made from the plant cannabis saliva; it is the most widely used illegal substance in America. Its use has been associated with educational and workplace underachievement, motor vehicle accidents, and the increased risk of addiction to other substances.
When it is smoked, marijuana is used in a dried, shredded mix of greenish brown flowers, stems and leaves. In oil form, it is known as hashish, or hash, which is produced in brown or black cakes or balls. Common street names for marijuana include:
Marijuana is usually smoked but is also sometimes brewed into teas and mixed into food. Marijuana addiction symptoms and signs come from this drug’s primary active chemical, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which induces relaxation and heightens the senses.
Did You Know?The United States Drug Enforcement Administration reports that 37 percent of Americans over the age of 12 have used marijuana at least once in their lifetimes.
How Addiction Develops
Often a marijuana addiction starts by using the drug socially or out of curiosity. Even at low doses, marijuana can impair coordination and limit your ability to focus or pay attention. This is because it affects the way your brain processes information. High doses of marijuana can cause image distortion, confusion, loss of personal identity, and hallucinations.
As with most mind-altering substances, your body will require more marijuana to achieve the same effects over time. Once you begin to build a tolerance, you may find that when you don’t use marijuana, you experience withdrawal symptoms and may use more marijuana to relieve these symptoms. This is when marijuana addiction is likely to take hold.
Signs of Addiction
It can be difficult for marijuana users to know whether or not they have an addiction to marijuana, but there are some marijuana addiction symptoms that serve as reliable indicators of a dependency or addiction. These include:
- Compulsion to use marijuana regularly; this might be weekly, daily or several times each day
- Failed attempts to stop using marijuana
- Preoccupation with making sure you have enough marijuana
- Spending money you can’t afford or stealing to obtain marijuana
- Feeling you need marijuana to cope with your problems
- Feeling of intense visual, auditory and taste perception
- Impaired memory
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Decreased coordination
- Inability to concentrate
- Increased appetite
- Slowed reaction time
Did You Know?You can become psychologically addicted to cannabis compounds such as tetrahydrocannabinol. One of the most common psychological marijuana addiction symptoms is the need or compulsion to use marijuana on a daily basis. While you may not have formed a chemical dependence on the drug, you can still feel helpless to avoid using it regularly.
The first step in marijuana addiction treatment is to stop using marijuana entirely. This is done using a process called detox, during which you stop all use in order to remove the toxins that have accumulated in your body during the time you used marijuana. When you suddenly stop using marijuana, you may experience several side effects. These marijuana withdrawal symptoms may vary in severity, and typically begin to fade in time. Marijuana withdrawal symptoms may include the following:
- Vivid dreams
- Loss of concentration
- Body odor
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Digestive problems
- Impaired immunity
- Kidney pain
- Sexual dysfunction
- Eye or vision problems
“Marijuana addiction symptoms are not limited to physical withdrawal.”Marijuana addiction symptoms are not limited to physical withdrawal. Once you have successfully completed detox, you will need to address the psychological and behavioral marijuana addiction symptoms.
Many marijuana addiction treatment facilities combine therapies such as counseling, addiction treatment programs, and support group meetings to assist you in overcoming your marijuana addiction. Treatment programs focus on getting sober and preventing you from returning to marijuana use. Therapy may take many forms but usually includes:
- Individual counseling
- Family counseling
- Group therapy
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Self-help groups
Treatment and marijuana addiction recovery may take place in a residential or inpatient setting or on an outpatient basis. Inpatient marijuana addiction treatment is often the most successful, because patients are given constant care and support through the most difficult phases of marijuana addiction symptoms and recovery.