Symptoms of Marijuana Addiction
Medical marijuana is now legal in 23 states plus the District of Columbia, and a handful of states have even legalized this drug for recreational use. It’s easy to understand why some marijuana users so desperately cling to the notion that marijuana is a harmless recreational aid—not a powerfully addictive drug. After all, if it’s legal and even has medical uses, it must be relatively safe.
But research suggests that marijuana is as addictive as ever. Not only are readily available strains of marijuana becoming more potent, making it easier to develop a dependence on this drug; studies consistently show that nearly 10% of marijuana users become addicts. Among users who smoke pot daily, the figure rises to between 25% and 50%.
Knowing how to spot marijuana addiction symptoms can help you get the help you need for your marijuana addiction before it spirals out of control. Denial is a powerful drug in its own right, but knowing the symptoms of an addiction to marijuana can help you break free of denial and begin moving toward the marijuana addiction treatment you deserve.
Physiological Marijuana Addiction Symptoms
The physiological symptoms of marijuana addiction are often the first to emerge, since addiction is a physical process that slowly changes how your body reacts to marijuana. Some of those symptoms include:
- Unexplained aches and pains, especially when you can’t use.
- Changes in sleeping habits; many marijuana addicts struggle to fall asleep at night. Others sleep too much, or at odd times.
- Weight gain; marijuana addiction often increases appetite.
- Feeling like your brain is in a fog.
- Shaky hands or muscles, particularly when you can’t use.
- Intense cravings when you attempt to stop using. These cravings may lead to intense pain, shakiness, and other physical symptoms.
- Difficulty managing health symptoms without marijuana.
- Frequent gastrointestinal distress, such as nausea, vomiting, gas, or diarrhea.
Psychological Marijuana Addiction Symptoms
Unlike some other drugs, marijuana is unlikely to cause radical changes in your personality while you’re under the influence. Instead, marijuana’s psychological effects steadily accrue over time. The problem lies with the way marijuana changes brain chemistry. Prolonged marijuana use can alter neurotransmitter function and even change brain chemistry, leading to significant changes in mood and psychology. Those include:
- Anxiety when you can’t use marijuana.
- Depression, sadness, or feelings of hopelessness.
- Trouble with motivation.
- Easily distractable.
- Prioritizing marijuana over your relationships or other important hobbies or goals.
- Changes in mood or personality since you started smoking marijuana.
- Difficulty reacting appropriately to stress.
- Being unable to manage changes in your life without marijuana.
- Feeling chronically bored.
- Being unable to control your emotions.
- Sudden bursts of anger; while rare, some marijuana users find that the drug, rather than relaxing them, leads to paradoxical feelings of anger.
There’s some evidence that, particularly in those with a history of psychosis, marijuana can induce a psychotic episode. If you have a history of severe mental illness, delusions run in your family, you have schizophrenia, or you use other drugs, avoid marijuana, since psychosis can endanger your family and your life.
Social, Career, and Academic Effects of Marijuana Addiction
Many marijuana addicts find that the biggest hit is to their future. It’s relatively easy to maintain your relationships when you’re a marijuana user, but maintaining the motivation to keep going to school, working on a challenging work project, or deepening your knowledge of your spouse can be much more difficult. Some of the ways in which marijuana addiction affects your daily life includes:
- Decreased ability to focus on conversations with others; this may interfere with your ability to form new relationships or deepen your current connections.
- Difficulty concentrating at work or at school.
- Trouble being inspired or motivated to take on new projects.
- Complaints from professors, teachers, or co-workers about the quality of your work.
- Consistently believing you’re producing brilliant work, but getting feedback that the work is only mediocre.
- Spending significantly more time than you should on projects.
- Destruction of your executive function, with regulates your ability to plan, maintain attention, prioritize tasks, and set clear and healthy goals.
- Lowering your expectations for your future.
Legal and Financial Issues from Marijuana Addiction
When you contemplate drug addiction, you probably think of “hard” drugs like heroin and meth. And you probably don’t consider the possibility that marijuana can destroy your finances just as much as these other substances. Some of the ways marijuana can affect your legal or financial wellness include:
- Loss of your ability to receive federal student aid, since drug offenses remove access to student loans and other important programs.
- Arrest, which can range from a short-term embarrassment to something that you have to put on every job application for the rest of your life.
- A criminal record, and all of the stigma and challenges that come with it.
- Struggling to pay the legal bills or fines associated with being arrested for marijuana.
- Spending a significant portion of your income on marijuana.
- Suffering financial losses because of marijuana-related medical bills, paying bond to get out of jail, or paying for marijuana supplies.
- Exposure to violence because of your use of marijuana; marijuana makes you more likely to be harmed by both police and criminals.
When is it Time to Seek Help?
Marijuana, unlike some other drugs, does not produce intense chemical dependency, and therefore marijuana withdrawal tends to be less severe than withdrawing from some other drugs. If you’re able to quit using marijuana on your own, by all means try to do so. But if you’re unsure whether you need help for a marijuana addiction, consider trying to quit marijuana. If you find that doing so is too difficult or yields physiological or psychological withdrawal symptoms, you may need marijuana rehab to kick the habit. Toronto Addiction Centre helps addicts just like you. We know that marijuana addiction is a serious disease, and we’re thrilled by the opportunity to help you chart a course to lasting and healthy sobriety.