Understanding Marijuana Use, Abuse, Addiction & Recovery

Woman during a drug counseling session

Marijuana Has Exploded in Popularity and Some Need Help to Stop Using

Facts About Marijuana

  • Marijuana is a term used to refer to the dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from the hemp plant
  • Marijuana is the most commonly used drug in the United States
  • 23 states and the District of Columbia now have laws legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana
  • Teens are the largest group to abuse marijuana
  • Marijuana is used in three ways:
    • People smoke the marijuana plant in hand-rolled “joints” in pipes (and water pipes, or “bongs”)
    • People smoke extracts (concentrates or hash), often vaporizing the extracts using specialized paraphernalia
    • Some users consume marijuana as an edible food (or drink)

Marijuana is Also Called

  • Weed
  • Pot
  • Dope
  • Mary Jane
  • Reefer
  • Skunk
  • Kush
  • Doja

Signs/Symptoms of Marijuana Use

If you’re looking for telltale signs of marijuana use, paraphernalia is commonly the most visible evidence. Keep your eyes open for small baggies or “film canister” like containers (possibly containing the pungent marijuana itself – which might appear to be herbs to the untrained eye). Also keep a look out for hash (chalky and crumbly solid) or the many permutations of “concentrates” which are available. “Oils” are usually sold in small bottles of brown liquid, and “shatter” is a crystallized solid that may look like (unappetizing) hard rock candy (or honey).

A marijuana user may have cigarette papers,  pipes, or water pipes (“bongs”) around. In recent years, many users have gravitated to  “e-cigarette” looking “vape pens” and similar smoking contraptions.  Lighters may be ever present as well.

When a person is high on marijuana, they often have bloodshot eyes. They may seem tired or lethargic and act uncoordinated and clumsy. They may get “munchies” after using marijuana. This is where a user may binge-eat due to increased hunger caused by the drug. A person high on marijuana may have poor reaction times and this can cause trouble if they’re behind the wheel.

If you’re talking to somebody who is high on marijuana, they may exhibit confusion or forgetfulness during conversations. They may have short-term memory loss and impaired learning.

Dangers of Long-Term Marijuana Use

Chronic marijuana use has been linked to many problems. Many users experience poor memory. Others experience lung cancer and, at higher dosages, there is evidence that marijuana use is linked to psychosis and schizophrenia. Smoking marijuana can cause more frequent bouts of illness, such as upper respiratory infections and bronchitis.

Sometimes a marijuana user will become dependent on marijuana, using it more and more as they appear to “drop out” of other aspects of life. Like other drugs, marijuana addiction is linked to withdrawal symptoms. Most of them are mild. Although none of these are dangerous, they can be unpleasant for the user when they are trying to quit.

Signs and Symptoms of Marijuana Dependency/Addiction

 Marijuana is a drug that some users become dependent on to function. Marijuana is commonly considered to be only “mentally addictive” (as opposed to “physically addictive”), but the anxiety triggered by the mental addiction can most certainly have physical repercussions. Many people who smoke marijuana excessively and become dependent experience a decreased quality of life. A person who is dependent on marijuana may drive while under the influence or get high throughout their day. People who are addicted to marijuana will exhibit drug-seeking behavior. They may avoid being around people who don’t use the drug. They may experience problems in relationships, at work or at school. Many long-term marijuana users continue to get high despite legal, personal, or financial consequences. Some users will lose their jobs and relationships as the drug consumes more of their life.

Because marijuana is frequently abused by teens, it’s important that parents know how to detect the signs of drug use. Be prepared to talk with your child about the dangers and side effects of marijuana use.

Marijuana can be addictive, and up to 9% percent of people who use marijuana will become dependent on it. Frequent marijuana users often report mild withdrawal symptoms when they cease using after a long period of time. These symptoms include irritability, mood changes, and sleeping problems such as insomnia. Some people who quit marijuana may experience a decreased appetite, cravings for the drug, and restlessness or anxiety.

These symptoms are usually short-term effects of quitting marijuana. They will usually peak within the first week after quitting.


Getting Help for a Marijuana Problem

Truthfully, marijuana is a drug that is not as destructive or addictive as most of the habit forming drugs that counselors and treatment centers treat people for.  However, a large amount of people who are addicted to more dangerous substances also abuse marijuana. Many addiction experts consider marijuana a “gateway” drug, and truthfully, drug users (particularly young people) have inevitably used marijuana on their way to experimenting with more severe substances.

But certainly, marijuana can be addictive and destructive outright for any individual, and certainly warrants treatment if it is compromising the user’s quality of life. If you or somebody you love may have a problem with marijuana, you may be wondering what the options are. Most addiction experts will recommend that people dependent on marijuana seek help from an inpatient or outpatient program where they learn new coping skills. Many people who have been addicted to marijuana have found a new lease on life through quitting the drug and participating in a program of recovery. Learn more about what options are available for you by giving us a 100% confidential phone call today. We’ll be happy to walk you through your options.