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Medically Reviewed

Treatment For Marijuana Addiction

- 8 sections

Medically Verified: January 25, 2024

Medical Reviewer:

Sahil Talwar, PA-C, MBA


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Marijuana Addiction Treatment

Marijuana, also known as weed or pot, is dried leaves, stems, flowers, and seeds of the Cannabis sativa plant. This plant contains a psychoactive chemical known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), that provides users with a “high”. In order to create this high, the THC attaches to cannabinoid receptors in the brain, producing a relaxed and euphoric state of mind. Additionally, marijuana produces an enhanced sensory perception when used. On the other hand, some people experience feelings of anxiety or paranoia after using weed, sometimes causing panic attacks.

Excluding alcohol, marijuana is the most commonly used psychotropic drug in America. In fact, over 11.8 million Americans reported using marijuana in 2018.[1] Many people view this drug as harmless, and it is increasingly being used for medicinal purposes. However, using marijuana, like any substance, can lead to dependence and addiction. In addition, long-term marijuana use often produces adverse side effects, including physical and psychological dependence. As a result, many people seek help for marijuana addiction from an addiction treatment program.

Effects of Marijuana Abuse

When an individual smokes marijuana, THC passes through the lungs and goes directly into the bloodstream. As a result, this substance is carried to the brain and other organs in the body. While most people smoke marijuana, THC is absorbed more slowly when ingested through food or drink. However this substance is ingested, THC attaches directly onto cannabinoid receptors in the brain. These receptors are a major part of the neural communication network, commonly referred to as the endocannabinoid system. In addition, this system plays an important role in brain function and development.

Additionally, most of the cannabinoid receptors are found in parts of the brain that control pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, time perception, sensory, and coordinated movement. When someone uses marijuana, the endocannabinoid system goes into overdrive, causing feelings of intoxication.

The marijuana “high” causes users to experience effects such as:[2]

  • Altered perceptions and mood
  • Impaired coordination
  • Difficulty thinking or problem solving
  • Disrupted learning and memory issues
  • Increased or decreased appetite

While there are many benefits of marijuana when used by recommendation by a doctor, this substance may cause an array of issues. In fact, marijuana abuse can cause or worsen issues in an individual’s daily life. For example, heavy users may experience poor mental or physical health, less academic or career success, and even relationship problems. Additionally, marijuana use is associated with a higher likelihood of dropping out of school.[3] Therefore, if you frequently use marijuana and are experiencing adverse effects, you may need help for marijuana addiction.

Health Risks of Marijuana Abuse

Marijuana abuse is linked to a range of health issues, mainly related to heart, lung, and mental health conditions. Since marijuana is typically smoked, individuals using this substance are likely to experience respiratory issues similar to those of tobacco smokers.

Respiratory issues and other related issues associated with marijuana abuse include:[4]

  • Daily cough and phlegm production
  • Frequent acute chest illness
  • Heightened risk of lung infections
  • Damage to the immune system
  • Killing brain cells and damaging the central nervous system
  • Fertility issues
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure

While it remains unknown whether marijuana abuse contributes to lung cancer, an increase in the likeliness of respiratory illness has been proven. Smoking marijuana may cause scarring and damage to small blood vessels in the lungs. Additionally, marijuana use affects brain development when smoked as an adolescent or young adult.[4] If you frequently use marijuana, it is likely that you have, or will, experience adverse health effects or the development of a substance use disorder.

Effects on Mental Health

In addition to affecting certain organs and systems in the body, marijuana use can impact an individual’s mental health. In fact, a number of studies link chronic marijuana abuse to mental illness. In high doses, some users even experience temporary psychosis. The usage of this drug also worsens symptoms of pre-existing schizophrenia.

Chronic marijuana abuse can negatively impact one’s health, and is associated with other mental health issues including, but not limited to:[5]

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Personality disturbances
  • Suicidal thoughts (among adolescents)
  • Developing bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or social anxiety
  • Lack of motivation to engage in otherwise rewarding activities

More research is needed in order to fully understand the full ramifications of marijuana abuse on an individual’s mental health. However, many negative mental health effects have been proved in relation to long-term and frequent marijuana abuse. If you have experienced a worsening in your mental health due to marijuana use, you may need treatment for marijuana addiction.

Is Marijuana Addictive?

Many people have been debating for a long time about whether marijuana is truly addictive. Contrary to popular belief, marijuana is an addictive substance. Marijuana use becomes an addiction once a person can not stop using the substance, despite experiencing negative consequences. Those who began using marijuana at a young age or smoke on a daily basis are more likely to become addicted than others. In fact, people who began their marijuana use before the age of 18 are four to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder than their adult counterparts. Additionally, in 2015, about 4 million people in America met the criteria for marijuana use disorder.[6]

Since marijuana is an addictive substance, individuals may experience withdrawal symptoms when they halt their marijuana use. The presence of withdrawal symptoms only further proves that marijuana is, in fact, addictive. In addition, withdrawal symptoms are synonymous with having a dependence on a substance. In other words, if you experience symptoms of withdrawal when you stop using marijuana- it is likely you are either addicted, dependent, or both.

Symptoms of Marijuana Addiction

While addiction to marijuana is most commonly found in adolescents or young adults, with the legalization of this substance, adult cases of marijuana addiction may become more prevalent. As with any addiction, there are behavioral and physical symptoms associated. These symptoms show signs of a marijuana addiction, known medically as cannabis use disorder.

Behavioral signs of marijuana addiction include:

  • Distorted perceptions
  • Impaired coordination
  • Difficulty in thinking and problem solving
  • Ongoing problems with learning and memory

Other signs of marijuana abuse, misuse, and addiction include:

  • Red, bloodshot eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Constant, mucus-filled coughing
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Hunger
  • Dry mouth
  • Anxiety, paranoia, or fear
  • Poor memory
  • Poor coordination
  • Slow reaction time
  • Labored breathing
  • Loss of control

If you or a loved one displays several of the previous symptoms, you may be addicted to marijuana. As a result, attending a drug detox and substance abuse treatment center is recommended when attempting to get sober.

Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms

Long-term abuse of any substance results in withdrawal symptoms once an individual ceases their use. Marijuana is no exception. There are a variety of withdrawal symptoms associated with marijuana, which typically develop within a week of discontinuing use.

The most common symptoms of marijuana withdrawal include:

  • Irritability, anger, or aggression
  • Anxiety and nervousness
  • Difficulty sleeping or insomnia
  • Decreased appetite resulting in weight loss
  • Restlessness
  • Depressed mood
  • Abdominal pain
  • Shakiness or tremors
  • Sweating and fever
  • Chills
  • Headache

In comparison to other addictive substances, marijuana withdrawal symptoms are not as severe. However, withdrawal symptoms of marijuana are uncomfortable, oftentimes resulting in relapse and continued use in order to soothe symptoms. As a result, attending marijuana detox and residential addiction treatment is vital in developing life-long sobriety.

Marijuana Detox and Addiction Treatment

Attending addiction treatment for marijuana abuse is heavily recommended for those attempting to quit. Many individuals addicted to marijuana benefit from attending a professional detox program like Charlotte Detox Center. During detox, doctors and staff will monitor a patient’s physical and mental withdrawal symptoms, treating them as necessary. This allows patients to remove marijuana from their system, creating the opportunity for them to tackle the root causes of their addiction.

After detox, those recovering from marijuana addiction should attend additional addiction treatment programs. Whether you choose inpatient or outpatient treatment, you will receive individual and group therapy targeting the mental symptoms of your addiction. In doing so, a strong foundation of recovery is built – allowing you to live a full and happy life. If you are suffering from marijuana addiction and need help, contact us today. We can help you begin a new, sober way of life.