Speak to an Addiction Specialist

(888) 663-7106

  Call 24/7 For Help

Opening April 2019

Is Marijuana Addiction Real? Get the Facts Here

Marijuana is one of the most commonly used substances in the United States. People have debated for years over whether or not it’s addictive. Some say it is, whereas most people believe that it’s impossible to form an addiction to it, and even believe it’s beneficial in many ways. The question is, is this substance good or evil?

It’s important to understand the truth. Some people are more prone to addiction, even if the drug they’re using isn’t considered to be highly addictive. You’re in a great place to get some answers, and to find out what you should do if you learn you are addicted.

The fact is that any drug can have a hold on your life. That’s probably not a situation you thought you would end up being in. Let’s dig a little deeper and find out more about the addictive nature of marijuana, and how this can impact you.

Is Marijuana Addictive?

Many states in the U.S. have legalized marijuana, but not before considering the answer to this question. Colorado, Washington, and California are just a few, and many more are considering legalization. Now more than ever, people need to know the risk they’re taking when they start using it.

The problem is that people still remain on both sides of the fence. People who are considered to be experts in addiction treatment believe that it is addictive. People who use it, and even other medical professionals disagree. It really comes down to how you define the word, “addiction.”

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fifth Edition), or DSM-V is considered the APA’s gold standard for identifying mental illnesses. This includes identifying addictions. In this manual, you’ll see that they are referred to as substance use disorders, primarily.

The DSM-V defines addiction based on years of research and clinical information. In order for a condition to qualify as an addiction, it must meet some basic criteria, including:

  • Feeling the need to take a substance in larger amounts for longer than you mean to.
  • Having a desire to cut down or stop using a substance, but not being able to.
  • Spending a lot of time obtaining, using or recovering from the use of a substance.
  • Experiencing cravings and urges to use.
  • Being unable to manage your personal responsibilities as a direct result of the substance use.
  • Continuing to use even though it is resulting in relationship difficulties.
  • Giving up important events or activities because of substance use.
  • Continuing to use even when it puts you in dangerous situations.
  • Continuing to use even though doing so is making a psychical or psychological problem worse.
  • Forming a tolerance to a substance, and as a result, feeling the need to use more to get the desired results.
  • Going through withdrawal when the substance is stopped, and using can relieve these symptoms.

Some would argue that many – if not all – of these criteria can apply to marijuana. Others would argue that none of them apply. Let’s take a closer look at how this drug affects people physically and psychologically.

Most people believe that marijuana is not a drug that leads to physical dependence. But, there is evidence that suggests that it can cause physical withdrawal symptoms when it’s stopped. For instance, people who use it frequently feel restless. They may have strong, physical cravings for it, and not much of an appetite when they quit using it.

This suggests that there is a degree of physical dependence that takes place when someone uses marijuana long-term. It may not be as physically addictive as other drugs, and this may not be the case for everyone, but it can happen.

Most people agree that marijuana is psychologically addictive, even if it’s not physically addictive. The research is there to back this up too. Dr. Nora Volkow, who is the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse states that, “Psychological addiction occurs in your brain and it’s a physical change.”

The psychological urge to use marijuana is a powerful one. In an article on the Vice website, one woman tells her story about her mental addiction to weed. She talks about how she would drag herself out of bed every morning, promising that she wasn’t going to use. By the time she made it to the shelf where she kept her stash, she had already given in. The draw to use was just too strong.

To further support the psychologically addictive nature of marijuana, it can cause severe mental withdrawal symptoms when it’s stopped. People commonly suffer from:

  • Symptoms of anxiety
  • Problems with feeling motivated
  • Symptoms of depression
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia

There are even more signs of psychological addiction people should be concerned about as well. In the case of the woman depicted in the Vice article, she had several complaints. She states:

“You may have heard the claim that weed makes you a wee bit stupider? Well, my memory has started to fail me. I have endless amazing story ideas when I’m high. The ideas, of course, evaporate as quickly as they materialize. My once-robust vocabulary has dwindled, and with it, my self-confidence. I can’t spell anymore. I’m not as quick-witted as I seem to remember having been once upon a time. I’m paranoid and nervous. My attention span is nonexistent. My coordination is terrible. It terrifies me to speak to shopkeepers. (What if they know I’m high?)”

To learn more, check out this video that explains why it’s so hard to quit using marijuana:

Marijuana Use Statistics in the United States

The legality of this drug has given it the position of most abused substance in the world. Statistics from the United Nations tell us that:

  • More than 94 million people in the United States report having used marijuana at least one time.
  • More than 2 million people will abuse marijuana for the first time each year.
  • Among teenagers, close to 10% of them admit to being current users.
  • Over the last 25 years, domestic marijuana production has increased tenfold.
  • There are hundreds of thousands of ER visits involving this drug every year.
  • The DEA states that a large percentage of people arrested for crimes test positive for pot.
  • Across the country, 40% of men will test positive when they are arrested.
  • Marijuana is the second most frequently found drug in the bodies of drives involved in fatal car accidents.
  • For people age 26 or older who use used this drug before the age of 15, many will go on to use another drug later in their lives.
  • 62% will go on to use cocaine.
  • 9% will go on to use heroin.
  • 54% will go on to use a mind-altering prescription medication.

All across the world, there are close to 160 million people who admit to using marijuana. That’s almost 4% of the world’s population. It makes sense to be concerned. This is a clearly a problem that has spiraled out of control.

What is a Marijuana Addiction?

marijuana addiction occurs when your use of this drug moves from recreational to necessary. By this point, you believe that you need it, and without it, you won’t be yourself. You may experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop using it. Many people put themselves on a regular schedule for the times they’ll get high during the day. If they happen to miss one of these “appointments,” it’s hard for them to cope.

Marijuana Addiction Information

Any type of addiction is dangerous; even one when the drug is one that is widely known to be harmless. Marijuana is certainly not harmless, and once you get addicted to it, it’s very hard to stop.

This is a great video done by a young woman who explains how she overcame her addiction to marijuana:

Cannabis use disorder is a diagnosis found in the DSM-V. It’s described as a condition that indicates problematic marijuana use. The use of this diagnosis indicates the possibility that using this drug can negatively impact people. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re addicted.

The truth is that not everyone who uses this drug will become addicted to it. The use of this new term allows for that. There are varying levels of severity that can be indicated when someone is given this diagnosis. People who use cannabis regularly all have different experiences, which means they require more specific diagnoses.

This video is very informative and it gives an excellent explanation about cannabis use disorder:

How Does Using Marijuana Affect the Brain?

Using this drug for a short period of time is unlikely to have any long-lasting effects on the brain. But when people use it long-term, research shows that it can cause significant changes. Some of these may even be permanent and irreversible.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that rats that were exposed to THC experienced serious brain changes. Those who were exposed to it before birth, soon after birth, or during adolescence showed problems with learning and memory. Additional studies demonstrated how the rats required an alternate reward system. More specifically, they were much more likely to self-administer other drugs when they had the chance to.

The studies that have been done on humans who use marijuana show differing results. Some of them suggest that for teens who use marijuana, they’re likely to experience memory, learning and impulse control issues. Others fail to find any significant differences between the brains of those who use and those who don’t.

The conclusion can be drawn that people respond differently because addiction is very personal. What might impact you negatively might not do anything to someone else. The key is, you have no way of knowing what continued marijuana use could result in. You could end up being one of the people who experienced the adverse effects and changes to your brain.

For more information on how marijuana affects the brain, watch this informative video:

When most people hear the word addiction, they conjure up specific images in their minds. They envision people on street corners, selling their bodies for drugs. They may think of people pushing shopping carts down on the streets of their city’s worst neighborhoods. At most, they see people who aren’t able to keep jobs, and whose lives are in shambles.

The reality is that this not at all an accurate portrait of what addiction truly is. The vast majority of addicts are those whom you would never suspect. They have jobs – many of them have excellent jobs – they make money, they own homes, and they appear to have their lives together. They’re known as functioning addicts, or high-functioning addicts.

The problem with functioning addicts is that they often never see what’s wrong with their drug use. They use their own personal success to justify it for as long as they can. They assume that because they’re successful in most areas of their lives, using marijuana shouldn’t be that big a deal. Many will hide it from their loved ones for as long as they can, and a lot of them will succeed.

It’s hard to say how many functioning marijuana addicts there are in our country. However, it’s probably safe to say that more than half could be considered high functioning. You may know many of them yourself. All you need to do is scan the Internet from some of the world’s most well known celebrities.

Over the last ten years or so, marijuana has lost its taboo status. Not only is it legal in more states now than ever before, but it’s also become more socially acceptable as well. This alone has caused a lot of celebrities to stop hiding their love for pot and embracing it within the public eye. Take these individuals for example:

  • Barack Obama – As the 44th President of the United States, he was no stranger to marijuana. When he was in college, he frequently stole hits from friends while he was playing basketball.
  • Matthew McConaughey – This well loved actor has starred in multiple films, and won many awards for his acting. When he’s not on screen, he frequently smokes marijuana. He was once even arrested on suspected marijuana possession.
  • Lady Gaga – During her documentary, Gaga: Five Foot Two, she goes into detail about her battles with fibromyalgia and the role that weed has played in helping her pain. She most likely also smokes it recreationally.
  • Kloe Kardashian – She’s known as one of the Kardashian sisters, and she has had a hit show on television for several years. Recently, Kloe was called out for using marijuana in Costa Rica during the filming of an episode. There were no legal ramifications as a result, and it’s safe to say that she also uses the drug stateside.
  • Brad Pitt – His is a household name, and Brad has starred in many movies over the years. Sources indicate that his marriage to Angelina Jolie ended because of his love of marijuana. She called it quits because she was worried about his drug use having a negative impact on their children.

Of course, these are just a few examples. There are many more celebrities who have come clean about their love of marijuana. Among them are Megan Fox, Madonna, Sarah Silverman and Queen Latifah.

Signs You May be Addicted to Marijuana

How do you know if you’re addicted to marijuana? You may want to begin by looking for some of the more common signs of addiction. They include:

  • Frequently losing control over how much or how often they use.
  • Spending less time on activities they used to enjoy in favor of using instead.
  • Taking risks in order to obtain the drug.
  • Struggling with relationship issues.
  • Getting various complaints on the job because of questionable behaviors.
  • Hiding drugs or money and maintaining secrecy about the drug use.
  • Significant changes in appearance.
  • Feeling the need to use larger amounts of the drug than you previously did.
  • Experiencing withdrawal when you attempt to quit.
  • Continuing to use even though doing so has negative consequences.

More specifically, people who are addicted to marijuana rely on it for nearly everything. When they’re stressed out or they need to relax, they want to smoke. It’s a way for them to escape from their problems. You may even believe that you can’t function without it. Once you reach the point where you don’t want to get out of bed if you can’t smoke, it indicates an addiction.

Sometimes people still aren’t sure if they’re addicted to marijuana, even after seeing a list of symptoms. This is because your brain has convinced you that you’re not an addict. It could mean that you’re in denial, in which case, it’s best to find other ways to determine if you have an addiction.

You could start by taking a marijuana addiction quiz like the one we’ve linked to here. This quiz is very in depth, and it will ask you a lot of different questions to determine your relationship with marijuana. At the end of the quiz, you will be able to see your results right away.

You could also benefit from talking with a professional about your situation. Many drug rehabs offer free phone assessments for this purpose. This will allow you to get a professional opinion on what you should do without having to pay for it.

Why do People Use Marijuana to Get High?

People use marijuana to get high for a lot of different reasons. For many of them, it starts with peer pressure. It’s something their friends are doing and they want to feel included in the group. People use it as a way to relax and de-stress after a long day. Others may use it to escape their problems.

For many individuals who regularly use marijuana, they’re doing it because they have an underlying mental health condition. This issue may be diagnosed, but in the case of most people, it’s not. All they know is that they don’t feel right, and pot makes them feel better.

When people use marijuana for this purpose, it’s called having a co-occurring disorder. The drugs are a way to alleviate some of their symptoms so they feel more like themselves.

There are many different types of co-occurring disorders, and marijuana can help to reduce the severity of many of their symptoms. Some examples include:

Eventually, using marijuana won’t work as well as it did in the beginning. This is because of tolerance. People may find that they need to use more, or they may be tempted to use additional drugs or alcohol at the same time. Both situations are dangerous and can cause the root of addiction to grow even deeper.

Can You Stop Smoking Pot Cold Turkey?

It is possible to stop smoking weed cold turkey, and many people believe in this approach completely. They’re motivated to stop, they’ve spent time thinking about it, and they’re ready to quit. However, for most people, it’s not going to be very easy.

If you do choose to quit on your own, it’s best to be prepared. You should follow the following guidelines:

  • Remove all marijuana and drug use paraphernalia from your home. This will make it harder for you to relapse.
  • Stay hydrated. Water will help to flush toxins out of your system faster, and it could shorten the duration of your withdrawal.
  • Get exercise. This is going to naturally boost your body’s dopamine levels and other feel-good chemicals. It will also help your body process toxins out through your pores.
  • Use an over the counter option like melatonin to help you with sleep.
  • Talk with your friends and family about your decision so that you can gain their support.

Even though you can quit cold turkey, not everyone should attempt it. You may want to consider getting treatment to help you through this challenging time.

Is it Possible to Find Marijuana Addiction Treatment?

Most people think that when they’re ready to stop using pot, it’s best to just stop. The problem is that it’s not always that simple. There could be underlying issues that are driving the addiction. It’s best to go to a drug rehab that offers marijuana treatment. That will give you the best chance of recovering successfully.

You won’t find marijuana on the list of drugs that requires detox. However, that doesn’t mean that it might not be necessary for some people.

Detoxing a way to get professional help for the physical part of the addiction. If you’re concerned about having physical withdrawal symptoms, this is something you may want to consider asking about.

Common Ways that People Get Help for Marijuana Addiction

There are a lot of different ways that you can get help if you’re suffering from a marijuana addiction. It’s important to find the method that will work the best for you.

Sometimes people think it’s silly to go to an inpatient rehab program to get help for their weed addictions. They figure that the drug is relatively minor, as far as being addictive. To them, an inpatient stay simply doesn’t feel warranted.

The reality is that an inpatient rehab might be your best option. If you’re serious about recovering, it will help to remove yourself from the temptation to use. You’ll also get all kinds of therapy that can help identify a possible co-occurring disorder that needs to be treated.

An outpatient rehab can be a great option, but most experts agree that an intensive outpatient program is probably best. Attending this form of treatment will give you a higher level of care with the flexibility you’re looking for.

A high quality IOP can be just as effective as an inpatient program, according to research. It’s a great choice for someone who is committed to recovery, but who need to continue to live at home.

Group therapy is known to be very effective at aiding in the recovery process. If this option sounds appealing to you, then you may want to consider attending a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. You will find a lot of support when you attend one of these meetings.

NA is known to be very laid back and accepting of everyone who walks through the doors. You’ll meet a lot of people who share in your struggles, and this can help you by giving you the necessary accountability.

A growing number of individuals are finding the help they need through online support groups. This might be an option for you if you’re not interested in any other form of treatment just yet. You can find NA meetings online, and many websites offer a chat feature that lets you converse with other members outside of meeting times.

There are also groups that don’t follow the 12 Step method of recovery, if that’s what you’re looking for. Even if you’re talking to people online, getting the support you need will be very important. This is also an option you can utilize for further assistance to supplement another form of help.

Should Marijuana be Considered a Gateway Drug?

There is some speculation that marijuana is actually a gateway drug. If that’s the case, it places some urgency on the need for people to quit using it.

NIDA reports that there is some research that suggests that marijuana is a gateway drug. This means that its use is very likely to precede the use of other substances. They also state that becoming addicted to it puts one in danger of forming easier addictions to other drugs.

Some of the studies that have been done indicate that:

  • Adults who use marijuana are more likely to develop an alcohol use disorder than those who don’t.
  • People who use marijuana and have an alcohol use disorder are at risk for their AUD becoming worse.
  • Marijuana use has been linked to nicotine addiction.
  • People who use pot are more likely to abuse heroin later in life.
  • The same is true for cocaine and prescription opioids.

Reports indicate that most people who use this drug do not go on to use harder drugs in the future. But, the risk is still there. Most people who misuse drugs like heroin or cocaine state that their first drug of choice (other than alcohol) was marijuana.

Where Can You Turn for Help if You Have a Marijuana Addiction?

If you have a marijuana addiction, getting help is the best gift you could give yourself. You may not know how to quit, or where to begin, and we can help you with that, here at Northpoint Washington.

Many of our staff members are actually former addicts themselves. They understand what you’re going through because they’ve been there. That fact alone gives them a unique empathy that’s not easy to find from other treatment providers. If you’re battling an undiagnosed co-occurring disorder, it’s important for that to be treated. You’ll also benefit from getting to know other patients and gaining their support.

Do you have questions about whether or not marijuana is addictive? We’d like to help you find some answers and get the help you need to recover. Please contact us today.

Talk to a Rehab Specialist Today

Our admissions coordinators are here to help you get started with treatment the right way. They'll verify your health insurance, help set up travel arrangements, and make sure your transition into treatment is smooth and hassle-free.

(888) 663-7106    Contact Us
Northpoint Washington: Opening April 2019

Our facilities currently open for services:

Ashwood Recovery at Northpoint

Outpatient drug and alcohol rehab and addiction counseling located in Boise, Idaho.

Northpoint Recovery

Our National Medical Detox and Inpatient Addiction Facility.

The Evergreen at Northpoint

Outpatient drug and alcohol rehab and addiction counseling located in Washington State.