Marijuana Addiction: Definition, Common Signs & Options For Help


Are you or a friend struggling with marijuana addiction? You are not alone! Although addiction may feel like an isolating disease, thousands of people are trying to find a way to relieve their dependence on this substance.

Through careful research, we have compiled a helpful guide for addicts and loved ones to figure out how to spot the most common signs of addiction, find help options, and get clean.

What Is a Marijuana Addiction?

Marijuana addiction is the abuse or misuse of marijuana that can lead to dependence. A person will become dependent on this substance if they experience withdrawal symptoms while not taking it.

One can identify when the recreational use of marijuana turns into a marijuana addiction when the person cannot cease using the substance. That is if marijuana use affects a person’s daily life, such as their schedule, job, school, and relationships. In that case, this is a glaring warning sign of marijuana use disorder.

Some additional signs of marijuana addiction include:

  • Cravings
  • Using more than needed for medicinal benefits
  • Using marijuana in high-risk situations or during inappropriate times
  • Consistent use of this drug despite negative implications
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms after stopping use

Those who frequently use marijuana may feel a sense of irritability, anxiousness, mood swings, reduced appetite, discomfort, and cravings within the first week of withdrawal.

Do Marijuana Addiction Urges Go Away?

Yes, marijuana cravings typically subside after two weeks of not using the substance. The withdrawal carvings are the strongest within the first week of abstinence. However, they usually decline once the THC is out of the user’s system.

Forms of Marijuana Addiction

There are different types of addiction that can help a loved one identify any warning signs.

  • Functional: If a person consumes marijuana but can still function and maintain their lifestyle, they could be considered a functional addict. A ‘high functioning’ addict may be mentally consumed by marijuana, consume excess marijuana, or makes excuses for consuming marijuana. They may also find time to consume marijuana and experience intense cravings. Despite these adverse side effects, a functioning marijuana user may still be able to maintain a job, social life, and positive relationships and ‘appear’ together.
  • Closet user: This is a person who uses marijuana by themselves due to pressure, shame, or stigma. In this case, a person typically consumes excess marijuana beyond what is considered ‘normal’ or social use.
  • Physical: When marijuana use leads to physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms, it’s finally a warning sign the addiction is more than just a mental or psychological ‘need.’

Marijuana Addiction Statistics

There are a few marijuana addiction statistics that can help individuals identify warning signs and prevent further use.

Firstly, the prevalence of people who begin to use marijuana and experience use disorder or addiction is higher than many may think. 30% of people who try marijuana experience some use disorder after the initial event.

In 2015 alone, 138,000 people voluntarily sought treatment for marijuana use and addiction. This shows that it is a widespread addiction, and you are not alone in your journey to get healthy and sober.

Furthermore, the one-week mark for marijuana withdrawal is deemed the most challenging. During the second week, the noticeable symptoms, such as cravings, irritability, mood swings, and loss of appetite, begin to subside.

Despite the increased number of people who are consuming marijuana and those who may experience use disorder, the complete physical consequences of excessive use of THC and high concentrations of marijuana are still unknown.

Lastly, the prevalence of marijuana addiction amongst teenagers is higher than that of adults. 17% of teenagers who start using marijuana will become addicted, compared to 9% of adults.

What Are the Signs of a Marijuana Addiction?

There are a few telltale signs of marijuana addiction that can help a loved one spot red flags. Some of the most common ones include;


This is one of the most common signs of marijuana addiction. The user may experience intense cravings that can take over their psychological well-being and daily schedule. If you find that you or your loved one is changing their schedule, canceling plans, missing obligations, or formulating their life around marijuana consumption, this is a cause for concern.

Lack of Interest

If a person used to be interested in going to class, playing sports, or hanging out with friends and has suddenly lost all interest in his favorite activities, this is a red flag.

Marijuana use can affect the motivation centers in the brain, leading to a reduced desire to participate in everyday activities. While not all users will experience this symptom, it is essential to recognize it as a potential indicator of regular cannabis use.


Withdrawal refers to the physical and psychological symptoms when an individual stops using marijuana after prolonged use. A person who is addicted to using marijuana will experience psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms once they stop doing this drug.

If a person experiences a lack of appetite, trouble sleeping and sticking to a sleep schedule, restless behavior, anxiety, irritability, and depression, these are classic withdrawal symptoms of marijuana.

Higher Tolerance Level

The need to consume more marijuana is a warning sign of addiction. Those who do not take marijuana will need a lower level of THC to get the same effects. If you continuously use marijuana, your tolerance will continue to rise. Eventually, this will lead to desensitivity and increased usage.

Negative Life Consequences

Those addicted to marijuana will continue to use this drug, despite its negative effects on their life. Addicts may experience negative social consequences, such as dropping out of school or being fired from work. They may also suffer from physical effects, such as memory loss, slower cognitive ability, and paranoia.

Ignoring Situations

Marijuana addicts may put their addiction before safe and smart decisions. Finding that you or a loved one is making risky decisions and choosing unsafe behavior to feed an addiction is a warning sign of dangerous habits.

Social Problems

Lastly, people who suffer from a marijuana addiction may have trouble behaving in social situations without smoking marijuana or smoking beforehand. Not being able to take part in work, spend time with friends, or spend time with family without smoking marijuana shows an unhealthy dependence.

Types of Unhealthy Marijuana Behavior

In addition to the warning signs of marijuana addiction, identifying unhealthy marijuana behavior is crucial in preventing these signs and symptoms from worsening. Some of the most common unhealthy marijuana behaviors are:

  • Canceling plans and avoiding social or work obligations due to marijuana addiction. You or a loved one may find that they cannot spend time with others due to their addiction.
  • Feeling so anxious and restless that you cannot sleep or stick to a regular sleep/wake schedule.
  • Lack of appetite leads to dramatic physical and/or psychological issues.
  • Choosing obtaining marijuana or smoking marijuana over previously-enjoyable hobbies. For example, if you previously liked spending time with friends, playing board games, partaking in sports, or hanging out with your family, a lack of interest in these activities is a red flag.

What Is the Main Cause of Marijuana Addiction?

The main cause of marijuana addiction is psychological changes in the brain and social boredom. Those unsatisfied in their life, lack a creative outlet, lack ambition, or have an addictive personality may suffer from marijuana addiction more quickly than others.

For example, teenagers are more susceptible to marijuana addiction than adults. This is due to the psychological changes in the brain, social pressure, social boredom, and rebellious personality.

Other common causes of marijuana addiction include:

  • Environmental reasons for addiction (family beliefs and home environment)
  • Social reasons (peer pressure and encouraged drug use)

Genetics may also play a role in addiction, as individuals with a family history of addiction or a genetic predisposition may be more likely to develop an addiction. Studies have shown that changes in the brain’s reward system and neurotransmitter activity can also contribute to addiction.

How Marijuana Addiction Affects the Brain

Marijuana contains THC, which regulates the body’s mood, pain receptors, and appetite. Smoking weed can lead to a lack of appetite, irritability, anxiousness, and decreased pain sensation over time. Marijuana addiction at a young age can severely change the brain, leading to an increased chance of addiction later in life.

What Is the Personality of a Marijuana Addict?

A recent study by the University of New England found that the top four personality traits of a cannabis addict include conscientiousness, neuroticism, openness, and agreeableness. Other common personality traits of a marijuana addict are:

  • Self-centeredness
  • Passiveness
  • Anxiety-ridden
  • Low agreeableness
  • Lack of self-regulation
  • Compulsiveness
  • Obsessiveness
  • Disconnected personality
  • Willingness to try new things

Is Marijuana Addiction a Mental Health Issue?

Marijuana addiction is a mental health problem. Reliance or dependence on anything is an issue when finding balance in life. Continuing marijuana use that spirals into marijuana use disorder or addiction can lead to further mental health issues if left untreated.

What Mental Illnesses Go Hand-in-Hand With Marijuana Addiction?

Marijuana use can increase the risk of developing certain mental health disorders. It is also possible for pre-existing mental health conditions to worsen with the use of marijuana.


  • Depression: Marijuana use can cause feelings of euphoria, but it can also lead to depression, particularly when the effects wear off. Chronic marijuana use may lead to changes in brain chemistry that can cause or worsen depression.
  • Anxiety disorders: Marijuana can cause feelings of anxiety and paranoia, particularly in individuals who are prone to these feelings. It can also exacerbate symptoms of pre-existing anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder.
  • Psychosis: Marijuana use has been linked to the development of psychosis, which is characterized by delusions, hallucinations, and disordered thinking. People with a history of psychosis or a family history of psychosis may be particularly vulnerable.
  • Bipolar disorder: Marijuana use has been linked to worsening symptoms in people with bipolar disorder. Marijuana use can trigger manic or hypomanic episodes, interfere with mood stabilizers, and exacerbate symptoms of depression.

How Do I Stop My Marijuana Addiction?

Although it may seem like an uphill battle to cure a marijuana addiction, it can be done. By using the right tools, seeking help, and possibly taking medication, you or a loved one can conquer a marijuana addiction and regain your life.

Can Marijuana Addiction Ever Be Cured?

Yes! Despite addiction and marijuana use having a long-term effect on a person, the addiction can be treated by changing brain chemistry and altering thought patterns. People with significant dependence or reliance on marijuana will experience withdrawal symptoms during detoxification. Still, these will subside over time as they continue to get clean.

What Is the Most Common Treatment for Marijuana Addiction?

The most common treatments for marijuana addiction are:

  • Contingency management: This therapeutic management monitors and records the desired behavior and rewards positive behavior with rewards.
  • Motivation therapy: Intervention therapy helps reward internal stages of change in addiction by providing resources to use outside treatment times.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: Psychotherapy helps individuals identify problem behaviors, potential problem-solving cures, and other problems that can coexist with marijuana addiction.
  • Sleep medication: Since marijuana use disorder often results in a lack of sleep or over-sleeping, prescribing sleep medication is common for addicts.

What Can I Replace Marijuana With?

For those who want to quit smoking marijuana but need an oral fixation, the best things to replace marijuana with are the following:

  • Hemp: This is a type of cannabis that has less than 0.3% THC, making it legal in every state. This alternative is suitable for those who want the taste and oral fixation of smoking weed without the psychoactive properties found in THC.
  • Ginger: Ginger helps with nausea and stomach problems that can often occur during withdrawal.
  • Valerian root: Valerian root is a herbal remedy that can help with insomnia or tiredness.
  • Herbal cigarettes: Herbal cigarettes are a smart choice for those who want to feel like they are smoking but without any adverse effects. Herbal cigarettes use natural ingredients like lotus leaves. That said, they should be used in moderation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s check out commonly asked questions about marijuana use disorder for some more information.

What is considered heavy marijuana use?

Heavy marijuana use is smoking every day or multiple times per day. ‘Heavy’ use can also be categorized as needing to smoke excessively to receive the same euphoric effects.

Does marijuana change your personality?

Marijuana addiction can make people more irritable, anxious, depressed, moody, or lethargic. People often find that marijuana addiction can lead to negative personality changes.

Additional Addictions To Be Aware Of

In addition to marijuana use disorder, there are other types of drug addiction to be aware of when it comes to overuse or first-time use.

  • Cocaine addiction: Cocaine addiction is a form of cocaine dependence that provides short-term euphoria.
  • Meth addiction: Meth addiction is the dependence on this highly-addictive drug that produces an immediate dopamine rush and is psychostimulatory.
  • Heroin addiction: Heroin is a depressant drug that releases endorphins, leading to neurotransmitter reliance and dependence. Addiction occurs when a person has developed a tolerance or relies on this substance to function.


Understanding how a marijuana addiction occurs, who is susceptible to this disease, and how to spot marijuana use disorder is crucial to keeping you and your loved ones healthy. You can fight against succumbing to dependence and reliance on this drug by identifying warning signs, trigger behaviors, and helpful therapies.

Knowing the telltale signs of a person with marijuana addiction or marijuana use disorder can be the difference maker in saving your loved one’s life.


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