What Is Marijuana Addiction?

Marijuana Addiction: Signs, Dangers and Recovery

Marijuana Addiction

There are many casual marijuana users around the world and some people rely on it for medical treatment. However, addiction to Marijuana is also a reality.

Marijuana is legal in some states of the United States and in some European countries. There are different degrees of legalization from legalized recreation use through to legalization for medical purposes prescribed by a doctor only. In other states of the US and in other countries, marijuana is illegal for all purposes.

Medically, marijuana is used for stress and pain relief and to increase appetite. Recreationally, marijuana is used for its calming effects and to achieve a “high.”

Marijuana is a psychoactive drug that alters perception. Marijuana contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the chemical compound that causes the drug’s effects. The effects of marijuana may be different for everyone and depend on how it is consumed. Smoking marijuana produces a faster, shorter-lived high than taking it orally.

What are “dabs?” Dabs are concentrated doses of cannabis that are made by extracting THC and other cannabinoids using a solvent like butane or carbon dioxide, which results in a sticky oil substance. Depending on their consistency, these marijuana concentrates are also commonly referred to as wax, shatter, budder, and butane hash oil (BHO). Marijuana wax and other dabs are typically heated on a hot surface, usually a nail, and then inhaled through a dab rig. Smoking dabs as a method of consumption has been around for at least a decade, but the advent of more advanced extraction methods have led to a flood of cannabis concentrates that have boosted dabbing’s popularity. The effects of dabs can be immediate and last for hours due to their concentrated amounts of THC.

Marijuana Effects and Addiction

The effects of marijuana vary according to whether the drug was ingested or smoked, and in what form. Common effects of marijuana include: feelings of happiness, mild hallucinations, increased appetite and reduced stress and anxiety.

While there is virtually no risk of overdosing, marijuana comprises the second highest rates (after cocaine) of emergency room visits caused by abusing an illicit substance. These hospital visits are mostly attributed to accidents that occurred when individuals were under the influence of the marijuana.

When an individual uses marijuana, cannabinoid receptors in the brain are activated by a neurotransmitter called Anandamide. THC mimics and blocks the natural neurotransmitters like Anandamide, to the point where the body no longer produces sufficient Anandamide on its own. The user’s brain gets reprogrammed to need marijuana just to feel normal. When the user stops bringing more THC into the body, they often experience withdrawal symptoms because of the resulting lack of Anandamide. Wanting to quit using marijuana, but being unable to do so, is a strong indication of an addiction.

Recognizing the Signs of Marijuana Abuse and Addiction

There are a number of common signs and symptoms that may indicate that someone is abusing, or has an addiction to marijuana, including:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Increased appetite
  • Lack of motivation
  • Weight gain
  • Nervous or paranoid behaviour
  • Impaired coordination
  • Slowed reaction time
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Memory impairment
  • Lack of motivation
  • Anxiety
  • Impaired judgment
  • Distorted perception
  • Relaxed state, sleepiness
  • Feeling “high” or euphoria
  • Slowed or poor coordination
  • Chronic cough

The psychological consequences of prolonged marijuana abuse aren’t completely understood. Some studies suggest that marijuana addiction may increase the chances of developing mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, motivational disorder and schizophrenia. Some other possible side effects of long-term use may include:

  • Mood swings
  • Reduced ability to learn
  • Lung infections
  • Chronic Coughing
  • Inhibited mental development
  • Panic attacks
  • Memory loss

There are also risks of using marijuana that can affect someone’s personal life. These risks can manifest into more immediate consequences when a person has developed an addiction to marijuana, such as:

  • Legal complications
  • Falling behind in school
  • Having problems at work
  • Relationship (romantic, friends and family) issues
  • Financial problems


One of the biggest signs of a marijuana addiction is an insatiable urge to use marijuana no matter what the negative outcome. This could mean getting high at work or spending more on the drug than is affordable. Generally, most people addicted to marijuana don’t feel normal unless they can get high.

Some clinical warning signs of marijuana addiction include needing larger amounts of marijuana to get high and prioritizing marijuana use over family, social or occupational responsibilities.

Withdrawal from Marijuana

Some people who have used marijuana for years have reported symptoms of withdrawal when they attempted to quit. Unlike those quitting heroin or alcohol, the primary symptoms of marijuana withdrawal are primarily psychological rather than physical.

Chronic marijuana users who quit cold-turkey may experience irritability, insomnia, cravings, depression, restlessness, changes in sleep patterns, changes in eating patterns, and anxiety.

Most marijuana withdrawal symptoms develop within the first 24–72 hours after the last use, peak within the first week, and last approximately 1–2 weeks. Sleep difficulties may last more than 30 days. In some cases, Post-Acute Withdrawal symptoms (PAWS) are reported and may last anywhere from a few months up to a year or more in rare cases. Some PAWS include restlessness, irritability, agitation, diminished appetite, poor concentration, increased anxiety, difficulty with decision-making skills and more.

Inpatient Care and Rehab

The Lighthouse Bali’s 28 day Primary Inpatient Program has helped countless marijuana addicts to get their lives back on track over the years. Through professional, expert care and therapy, individuals are given the tools they need to ensure the best possible chances of long term recovery.

If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, we urge you to reach out and contact us. Our private programs are tailormade to suit individual needs in complete confidence and our doctorate level clinical staff have extensive experience in the field of addiction. If you are not currently in Bali but would like to begin a recovery program immediately, we also have online recovery options available which can be taken in this interim period before Bali reopens international borders.

To talk to one of our team members, contact us today. We understand that making the first call is never easy, but it’s the first step to getting back on track.

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