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According to a Gallup poll conducted in 2010, 67% of American’s drink alcohol. The overwhelming majority of those who drink alcohol will not go on to develop alcoholism, nor will suffer from any alcohol-related consequences, such as legal, medical, or social consequences. Some, however, will develop an alcohol addiction. The same can be said about marijuana even though very few people seek marijuana addiction treatment.  Of thirteen percent of American adults who regularly use marijuana, as per a Gallup poll that was conducted in 2016, most do not believe they will ever develop a marijuana addiction.

The crossover from substance use to substance addiction is relatively easy to identify because when one becomes addicted they continue to utilize substances even though the substance use is creating harmful effects. Those who are dependent upon substances tend to use in dangerous situations, use more than intended, and are unable to cut-down. Typically, when one becomes addicted they will spend a relatively greater time and more money gaining access to the substance, and the substance use will become more important than other activities in life, including relationships. Another fact that is associated with dependence is tolerance, i.e. the addicted needs to use a higher quantity of the substance and/or use the substance more frequently to achieve the same effects as in the past.

Almost any behavior can become addictive if the brain’s reward pathway is properly stimulated and a person has the right genetic and environmental factors. Marijuana addiction, like other addictions, requires treatment. The withdrawal from marijuana can last a relatively long time since THC, the most prevalent active component of marijuana, and its metabolites are stored in fat tissues and are slowly released. Marijuana withdrawal is characterized by irritability and anger, insomnia, mood swings, anxiety, depression, vivid dreams and nightmares. These symptoms occur when one stops using marijuana after they have developed tolerance and dependence.

Those who become addicted to marijuana will experience the same progression of the disease as those with other addictions. Previously a social activity, the drug use becomes isolative and the addict begins using in more and more situations, such as while driving, at work and while caring for children. A good test to determine if one is addicted to marijuana is to attempt to stop using it for a month or two and see what the outcome is. For those who are unable to stop using it for a set amount of time, or in certain situations, the presence of addiction is more probable.

Typically, those who end up in drug rehab after being diagnosed with marijuana addiction do so because they have experienced adverse consequences. Since the medical consequences of marijuana dependence and the withdrawal syndrome is less severe than that associated with other drugs and alcohol, many believe that marijuana addiction does not occur. However, although not as common as with other substances, marijuana addiction is very real and harms those who suffer from it and those around them.

infographic showing marijuana background with pie chart of how many Americans smoke regularly

Another associated factor with heavy marijuana use and addiction is the presence of a mental health disorder or emotional issues. To attempt to relieve the symptoms associated with mood instability, isolation, or boredom, one may use marijuana in ever-increasing amounts. If this is the case, a drug rehab that treats dual diagnosis (co-existing) disorders is the most appropriate course of action.

photo of person rolling a marijuana joint

If you, a loved one, or a co-worker is concerned about your marijuana use, it is important that you see a therapist or other professional for an evaluation, or that you seek treatment in a drug rehab. To find out more about the signs and symptoms of using marijuana and what help is available please, call us at 800-683-4457 anytime 24/7.