Everlast Recovery Centers

Is Marijuana an Addictive Substance?

In today’s recreational marijuana world, the drug’s dangers are often overlooked, including its addictive qualities and consequences. Many people that smoke marijuana want to believe that the plant does not have any addictive qualities, and therefore they do not need to be worried. However, marijuana is addictive and has very real withdrawal symptoms. By learning about the specifics of marijuana and how it can affect your body over time, you can protect yourself from the consequences of smoking it. 

What is Marijuana?

Marijuana is a psychoactive drug that comes from the cannabis plant, often in dried leaves or edibles. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main active ingredient in marijuana that causes the “high” many people describe. Marijuana often causes feelings of pleasure and happiness, increased appetite, less anxiety, and mild hallucinations. It is not possible to overdose on the marijuana itself, but it does have addictive qualities that can negatively affect your life. 

Effects of Long Term Marijuana Use

Those who smoke marijuana regularly typically do so because it helps with feelings of anxiety and stress symptoms. When the plant is smoked, the THC within it goes directly into the lungs and then into the bloodstream. From there, THC is brought to the brain and other organs, causing the “high” many describe. In the brain, marijuana affects the endocannabinoid system. Often resulting in overactivation of this system that results in getting “high.” Long term use and activation of this system will result in adverse effects, such as:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Problems with thinking and problem solving
  • Altered sense of perception
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty retaining memories
  • Poor learning skills

Health Consequences

Marijuana is most often smoked, meaning damage done to your body is inflicted on your lungs and heart. If you smoke marijuana daily for an extended period, you run the risk of developing the same respiratory issues that tobacco smokers deal with. Health consequences of long term marijuana abuse include:

  • Increased risk of lung infections
  • Chronic cough
  • Increased phlegm production
  • Damaged immune system
  • High heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Acute chest illnesses
  • Death of brain cells
  • Damage to your central nervous system
  • Problems with fertility

However, marijuana abuse does not only lead to physical health problems. Over time, you can experience symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as possible suicidal ideation. You may also feel a lack of motivation and be unable to feel pleasure in activities that once made you feel good. There may also be changes to your personality over time. 

Busting the Myth: Marijuana is Addictive

Many individuals believe that marijuana is not addictive because it is legal in multiple states across the US. However, marijuana is addictive and causes unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when users attempt to stop smoking it. These symptoms include mood swings, irritability, insomnia, reduced appetite, depression, anxiety, and cravings. The symptoms often make recovery without professional help difficult because many people return to the drug to alleviate the discomfort. 

Symptoms of Addiction

The most common cases of marijuana addiction often come from young people, either adolescents or young adults. With the increase in marijuana legalization over the recent years, the numbers in older populations have risen. The signs of addiction, just as with most drugs, can be spotted in marijuana abuse, including physical and behavioral symptoms. 

Behavioral Signs

  • Problems with rational thinking
  • Decreased ability to problem solve
  • Distorted perceptions
  • Learning and memory issues
  • Impaired coordination

Physical/Mental Signs

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Increased hunger
  • Slow reaction time
  • Red, bloodshot eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • Impaired coordination
  • Memory problems
  • Mucus-filled cough
  • Feelings of anxiety
  • Loss of control

Symptoms of Withdrawal

The most common sign of addiction is when a person tries to stop using a particular substance and experiences withdrawal symptoms. This is the same with marijuana addiction, which can cause a person to have uncomfortable and frustrating withdrawal symptoms. It is best to go through withdrawal under a medical professional’s supervision to ensure medical intervention if necessary. Common symptoms of marijuana withdrawal include:

  • Insomnia
  • Chills
  • Depression
  • Fever 
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Restlessness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Tremors
  • Aggression
  • Nervousness 

Treatment for Marijuana Addiction

Treating marijuana addiction is similar to treating other forms of drug and alcohol addiction, often involving a combination of traditional and experiential therapies. Most commonly used are cognitive-behavioral therapy, twelve-step programs, and other forms of alternative therapies such as art therapy, yoga, and more. Over time, an individual struggling with marijuana addiction can heal the physical and mental effects of addiction on their lives and find their happiness in sobriety. 

In the United States, many states have passed laws making recreation and medicinal marijuana use legal. Because of the normalized use of the drug, many people believe that it is not addictive, and therefore, they can smoke it without consequences. This is false, however, and long term marijuana use can evolve into an addiction. The negative consequences of marijuana addiction can wreak havoc on a person’s life, causing them to have withdrawal symptoms, health problems, social issues, and perhaps even legal trouble. For these reasons, it is essential to educate the public on marijuana abuse to help people understand the dangers of marijuana addiction. At Everlast Recovery Centers, we want to help anyone struggling to reach a clean, healthy, happy life. We have seen firsthand the problems that marijuana addiction can cause in a person’s life, and for this reason, we want to keep other people from falling down the same rabbit hole. If you or someone you know is struggling with marijuana addiction, reach out. Give us a call today at 866-DETOX-25.