The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that 17 percent of teenagers who use marijuana- also known as weed or cannabis- will become addicted to it. After the teen years, marijuana addiction may lost through adulthood. Statistics for those who use it daily range from 25 to 50 percent, depending on the amount that they use. Mental illness, stress, or genetic predisposition can also affect whether a person will become addicted to marijuana after use.
Marijuana is considered to be an illicit drug, and of the 6.9 million illicit drug abusers in the United States, 4.2 are marijuana users, making it the most widely abused illicit drug in the United States and one of the largest drug issues in the country. Interestingly, reports show that the potency of marketed forms of the drug are rising, leading to a higher risk in the use of the drug than was understood to be present in the past. 1
Especially dangerous is marijuana use among adolescents and young adults, whose brains are still growing and developing every day. A young person who abuses the drug might cause irreversible brain damage. The hippocampus, an area of the brain associated with memory, learning, and impulse control is not able to mature as normal.
Marijuana use is not always addictive. Using marijuana recreationally, however, often leads to the abuse of other illicit drugs that generally do result in addiction. It is important to detect any present signs of possible marijuana abuse.
Signs and Symptoms of Marijuana Abuse
As marijuana can be abused in leaf or liquid form, finding packages of crumbled dry brownish-green leaves, powder, or small bottles of brownish colored liquid can indicate use of marijuana. In addition, finding the following items, which are associated with the use of marijuana, can indicate illicit drug abuse:
- Small metal clips
- Papers small in size (for rolling cigarettes)
- Smoking pipes
Physical evidence of marijuana is shown by a change in physical appearance and behavior. A person who is using marijuana might have the following physical and behavioral characteristics:
- Having trouble keeping time
- Losing interest in studies or work
- Talking excessively
- Showing an inability to focus
- Becoming secretive
- Having an increased heart rate
- Getting hungry often, frequently wanting to snack
- Feeling lethargic and sleepy
- Eyes looking bloodshot
Consuming especially potent forms of marijuana can result in hallucinations, causing a person to see and hear things that do not really exist. Paranoia and delusional expressions are also common. If a person is new to marijuana abuse, he or she may show increased anxiety. Usually this is because he or she is fearful about being discovered.
Integrated Treatment for Marijuana Abuse and Addiction
Marijuana affects an individual’s ability to reason and solve problems effectively. A person who continues to use marijuana will have a diminished ability to reason on how to handle responsibilities. Talk therapy is useful in restoring thinking ability after detoxification has been pursued. The detoxification process of marijuana is not usually harsh. Most people can stop using the drug without many physical discomforts. The most difficult block to get past is often a psychological or social dependence on the drug.
Most people can stop using the drug without many physical discomforts. The most difficult block to get past is often a psychological or social dependence on the drug.
Marijuana addiction causes a person to compulsively seek the drug for use even despite causing damage to his or her life through the drug use. Hence, he or she might put family members in danger in order to acquire what is needed to satisfy the cravings. Family tension can develop, especially if secrecy develops around the drug use, leading to trust issues that erode the natural loving atmosphere that a family needs to emotionally thrive. Treatment should include family therapy that will show the marijuana user how to cope with potential family conflict in a reasonable, responsible, and productive way.
Marijuana use might develop because a person has a lack of social or family support. In these cases, treatment will consider how to establish supportive associations that will foster healthy and acceptable habits that can improve the quality of life in general.
The Process of Treatment for Marijuana Addiction
Many people contest the danger of marijuana use, but scientific evidences point to multiple hazards of the use of this illicit drug substance. The dependence and abuse symptoms mimic those of more intense illicit drugs. The average adult who seeks treatment for marijuana abuse disorder will have seriously attempted to quit at least 6 times, perhaps having passed through the detoxification stage with each attempt. 2 With treatment, not only will a person withdraw from marijuana safe from relapse risk, but he or she will be equipped to stay away.
The social, physical, and psychological problems associated with the guilt, financial complications and low energy that come with marijuana abuse will improve after substance use disorder treatment and therapy. Any mental health disorders that are suffered from, such as anxiety disorder or depression, will be treated along with the addiction disorder.
1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Marijuana. Is marijuana addictive?” Found online 2/16/16 at: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/marijuana-addictive.
2. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia . “Marijuana dependence and its treatment.” Found online 2/16/16 at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2797098/.