Marijuana Addiction

Understand the signs, symptoms, and treatment for marijuana addiction

Origins Behavioral Healthcare: Marijuana Addiction
Origins Behavioral Healthcare: Marijuana Addiction


Marijuana is derived from the cannabis plant. It can be smoked or consumed in an edible form. Marijuana is one of the hardest substances to give up due to the increasing social acceptance of it, much like the acceptance of alcohol. People who regularly use marijuana may claim that the substance is harmless. While this may be the case for some, this substance is still a drug, and addiction is still possible.

Due to the newly elevated societal perception of marijuana, users not only think they are fine, but their friends and family members may not view their usage as an addictive problem either. These factors make it difficult to know when to intervene in the face of a loved one’s marijuana use. Although people addicted to marijuana may function at a higher level than someone addicted to heroin or meth, it doesn’t mean they don’t have a dependence.

Risk Factors

The earlier in life a person begins using marijuana, the greater the likelihood they will develop an addiction later in life. With continued use, the desired effects of marijuana decrease and the individual needs to use more to get the same experience. Heavy users report lower life satisfaction, poorer mental and physical health, more relationship problems and less academic success — including the likelihood of dropping out of school — when compared with non-using peers. In addition, marijuana use can negatively impact a person’s career success. Several workplace studies have identified increased absences, tardiness, accidents, workers’ compensation claims, and job turnover associated with marijuana use.

Signs of Use

According to Mayo Clinic, these symptoms indicate that drug addiction is in play:

  • An obsession or preoccupation with the drug, despite consequences
  • Tolerance for the drug, which leads to higher doses of drugs
  • Hoarding the drug
  • Spending money that should go to household expenses on drugs
  • Cutting back on work, hobbies, or social activities in order to use
  • Taking risks while under the influence
  • Failed attempts to stop use
  • A need to use the drug regularly, either daily or several times per day

It’s important to note that people with marijuana addictions aren’t weak or bad. They have a medical disease that responds to professional treatment. Recovery is possible.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Symptoms of marijuana withdrawal include:

  • Increased irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty sleeping/insomnia
  • Physical craving for more of the drug
  • Depression
  • Restlessness
  • Agitation
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Reduced appetite or weight loss
  • Mood swings
  • Inability to experience pleasure

Because sleep problems feature prominently in marijuana withdrawal, restoring healthy sleep is critical to recovery. Developing a consistent sleep pattern can help end the fragmented sleep cycle and reset the body’s natural circadian rhythm.

Sleep Hygiene

Because many people in recovery experience sleep disturbances following cessation of marijuana use, we offer guidance on healthy sleep to all of Origins’ patients. Our sleep specialists coach patients in ways to develop healthy sleep patterns through brain restructuring efforts during the day as well as meditation to retrain the brain for healthy sleep at night. Our doctors and psychiatrists are also trained to help people in need of a good night’s sleep find their way to rest without mind-altering substances. Patients are empowered to develop their own unique sleep hygiene rituals to help to achieve this goal.

Treatment Modalities

Some people may be using marijuana as a way to treat undiagnosed mental disorders. A comprehensive treatment plan for people recovering from a marijuana substance use disorder accompanied by co-occurring disorders should include:

  • Evidence-based therapies
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Medical care (including medication, when appropriate)
  • Psychiatric services
  • Case management services
  • Family education and programming
  • Life skills training
  • Spiritual care support

Origins team of multidisciplinary professionals includes physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, master’s level clinicians, and more. To learn more about our programs, visit us here.

Effects on the Brain

There are currently 85 known cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, the most prominent of which are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). These two cannabinoids have the exact same chemical makeup, differing only with the placement on a single atom. The brain cell’s natural cannabinoid receptors are part of the endocannabinoid system, which plays an important role in normal brain development and function.

The chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects as well as its “high” is THC. The chemical attaches directly to a certain cannabinoid receptor in the brain. At that point, THC is recognized as a compound similar to the naturally-occurring chemical produced in the brain. THC affects short-term memory, pleasure sensations, attention span, motor coordination, thought processes, and the ability to accurately perceive time.

Research indicates that as the amounts of THC in marijuana increase in the individual’s body, so does the likelihood of addiction. Marijuana over-activates the endocannabinoid system, causing the THC-high and other effects that users experience, such as:

  • Altered perceptions and mood
  • Impaired coordination
  • Difficulty thinking and solving problems
  • Disrupted learning
  • Difficulty recollecting memories
  • Decreased appetite

In some people, marijuana can cause intense paranoia and delusions. For individuals like this and for others with co-occurring disorders, increased use may exacerbate psychotic behaviors.

Contact Origins Behavioral HealthCare

Origins Behavioral HealthCare is dedicated to helping our patients achieve lifelong, sustainable and complete recovery. We believe that sobriety is possible for everyone. Our team provides cutting-edge care that enacts real, lasting change for our patients by helping them lead healthier, more confident, and more purposeful lives.

Today is the day you break the cycle of addiction for good – start your journey to freedom and fulfillment by calling Origins Behavioral HealthCare at 561-841-1296.

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If you or someone you love has a substance use or mental health disorder, Origins Behavioral HealthCare can help. We will work alongside you to provide the most comprehensive treatment available.