Marijuana Abuse Signs & Symptoms

Understanding Marijuana Abuse

Learn About Marijuana Addiction

Marijuana is one of the most commonly abused recreational substances in the country. Also known as weed, tree, or herb, marijuana is made up of dried leaves, flowers, and stems that come from the cannabis sativa plant. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the psychoactive ingredient in this substance, is often referred to as THC. When an individual consumes marijuana, which is most commonly done through smoking it or adding it to food or tea and then consuming it, the immediate short-term effects can increase relaxation, stimulated appetite, mild analgesia, and distortions in an individual’s ability to perceive space and time.

While many states have decriminalized and/or legalized marijuana for specific purposes, these changes in legislature do not mean that the use of this drug is harmless. Continued abuse of marijuana has been linked to a number of dangerous consequences, including causing possibly irreversible changes in the structure and functionality of the brain.

When an individual’s marijuana use causes serious impairment or upset, and when the individual is meeting criteria connected to his or her inability to control his or her marijuana abuse, he or she might have developed cannabis use disorder. Luckily, there is comprehensive care available to help those defeat their cannabis use disorder and begin making the changes necessary to support a healthy future.


Marijuana Abuse Statistics

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), roughly 19.8 million people within the country have abused marijuana within the past 30 days. NIDA also states that approximately 2.4 million Americans use marijuana for the first time every year, with roughly 78% of first-time marijuana users being between the ages of 12 and 20. According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), in 2011, there were 456,000 emergency room visits connected to the abuse of marijuana.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and Risk Factors for Marijuana Abuse

There are a variety of different genetic and environmental factors that can impact an individual’s chances of abusing marijuana or developing cannabis use disorder, including:

Genetic: Research focusing on the heritability of substance use disorders shows that people who have parents or siblings with a chemical dependency issues are more likely to struggle with one themselves. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) states that genetic factors can account for 80% of the risk factor for the development of cannabis use disorder.

Environmental: There are many environmental factors, including using tobacco, having an abusive and/or unstable home, failing academically, and socializing with those who abuse marijuana, that can increase an individual’s likelihood of developing cannabis use disorder. Family members who abuse marijuana can also have a major impact on other family members when it comes to abusing this substance.

Risk Factors:

  • Low socioeconomic status
  • Youth (first use of marijuana most often occurs between ages 12 and 20)
  • Being abused, neglected, or otherwise exposed to trauma
  • Early involvement with substance abuse
  • Having access to and being able to afford marijuana
  • Family history of mental illness, substance abuse, and/or addiction
  • Personal history of conduct disorder and/or antisocial personality disorder
  • Prior substance abuse

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Marijuana Addiction

The abuse of marijuana and the development of cannabis use disorder may be exhibited through a number of signs and symptoms, including:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Social withdrawal
  • Possession of rolling papers, water pipes, and other drug paraphernalia
  • Prioritizing marijuana abuse over friends, family, and significant activities
  • Acting secretively or deceptively regarding one’s activities and/or whereabouts
  • Declining performance at work or in school
  • Multiple unexplained absences from school or work
  • Engaging in risky, reckless, or otherwise dangerous behaviors
  • Having an odor of marijuana on one’s body or clothes
  • Use of incense to hide smell of marijuana

Physical symptoms:

  • Dry mouth
  • Impaired balance, coordination, and motor skills
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Delayed reaction time
  • Lethargy
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Increased cravings for food

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Memory problems
  • Impaired ability to perceive the passage of time
  • Poor decision-making skills
  • Impaired ability to concentrate or focus

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Fear and/or paranoia
  • Unstable mood
  • Irritability
  • Agitation


Effects of Marijuana Addiction

Continuous abuse of marijuana and/or untreated cannabis use disorder can impact an individual’s emotional, physical, and socioeconomic health. Below are some of the most common possible effects of marijuana abuse:

  • Arrest and incarceration
  • Financial damage
  • Breathing problems, including bronchitis
  • Compromised immune system
  • Social isolation
  • Diminished sexual functioning
  • Academic failure
  • Job loss and unemployment
  • Heart damage
  • Injury from impaired coordination and recklessness
  • Family discord
  • Strained interpersonal relationships
  • Abuse of other substances
  • Diminished cognitive functioning

Co-Occurring Disorders

Marijuana Addiction and Co-Occurring Disorders

Those who abuse marijuana or who have developed cannabis use disorder might also battle with one or more of the following mental health conditions:

  • Major depressive disorder
  • Other substance use disorders
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Bipolar I disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Antisocial personality disorder

Withdrawal & Overdose

Know the effects of Marijuana Withdrawal & Overdose

When an individual who has been continuously abusing marijuana attempts to decrease or control his or her use, he or she can begin going through a variety of painful symptoms, many of which can include:

  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Strong cravings for marijuana
  • Impaired ability to concentrate
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • Appetite suppression
  • Depression
  • Agitation and irritability