Signs & Symptoms of Marijuana Abuse

Understanding Marijuana Abuse

Learn About Marijuana Addiction

Marijuana, which is also referred to as cannabis, pot, or weed, is the most commonly abused illicit drug in the United States. Made from the dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds of the Cannabis sativa plant, this mind-altering substance produces feelings of relaxation and detachment from one’s surroundings when consumed.

Individuals who abuse marijuana on a regular basis may do so for a variety of reasons, including to cope with pain, to overcome sleep difficulties, and to deal with other physiological or psychological problems. Other individuals may begin to use marijuana due to peer pressure or out of simple curiosity. However, no matter the reason why an individual begins to smoke marijuana, prolonged abuse can compromise many areas of a person’s life and may also develop into an addiction.

Once the habit of abusing marijuana has been established, it can be difficult for an individual to end the cycle of abuse on his or her own. The pleasurable feelings associated with marijuana abuse are what may prevent an individual from breaking free from this destructive behavior. Fortunately, there are many treatment options available that can help individuals overcome their compulsion to use marijuana and return to a life of sobriety.

Co-Occurring Disorders

Marijuana Abuse and Co-Occurring Disorders

Marijuana abuse has been known to occur alongside the presence of an additional mental health disorder. Furthermore, those who abuse marijuana have a much higher lifetime risk of using, what are referred to as more dangerous substances, than nonusers. Some examples of disorders that co-occur with marijuana abuse include:

  • Additional substance use disorders
  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Conduct disorder
  • Suicidal ideation and behaviors
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Paranoid personality disorder
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)


Marijuana Addiction Statistics

Marijuana is said to be the most commonly abused illegal recreational drug in the United States. Research has indicated that approximately 69 million individuals throughout the U.S. have used marijuana at least once in their lifetime. Additionally, it has been suggested that nearly 6,000 Americans try pot for the first time every day.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and Risk Factors for Marijuana Abuse

Genetic: It is believed that genetic influences contribute to the development of marijuana abuse and addiction. Heritable factors are said to contribute between 30% and 80% of an individual’s risk for the development of marijuana abuse disorder. This means that if an individual has biological family members who battle chemical dependency concerns, he or she is at a heightened risk for struggling with similar concerns in his or her life as well.

Environmental: Loss of job, smoking tobacco, having an unstable or abusive family, marijuana use among close family members, and low socioeconomic status are only a few of the many environmental factors that can place an individual at an increased risk for beginning to abuse marijuana.

Risk Factors:

  • Family history of substance abuse and addiction
  • Personal or family history of mental illness
  • Peer pressure
  • Low self-esteem
  • Being the victim of abuse or neglect
  • Lacking proper coping skills
  • Ease of access to marijuana

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Marijuana Abuse

There are a number of signs and symptoms that will eventually arise when someone if abusing marijuana. However, the exact symptoms displayed are going to vary from person to person depending upon a number of different factors. The following are examples of various symptoms that may be exhibited by someone who is abusing marijuana:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Failure to fulfill obligations at work
  • No longer participating in activities that were once enjoyed
  • Neglecting family or friends
  • Becomes socially isolated
  • Laughs for no reason or at inappropriate times
  • Possessing drug paraphernalia
  • Reduced motivation
  • May lie and steal
  • Engagement in drug seeking behaviors
  • Change in peer groups

Physical symptoms:

  • Red, blurry, bloodshot eyes
  • Constant cough
  • Dry mouth
  • Hunger
  • Weight gain
  • Increased fatigue / drowsiness
  • Poor coordination
  • Slower reflexes
  • Lethargic response to stimuli

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Distorted perceptions
  • Difficulty thinking or solving problems
  • Problems with memory
  • Inability to focus or concentrate
  • Impaired learning capabilities
  • Cognitive damage
  • Impaired decision-making capabilities
  • Paranoia
  • Disorganized thought processes
  • Experiencing altered states of perception
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Depressed state
  • Excessive irritability
  • Agitation
  • Feelings of fear or panic
  • No longer interested in things that were once enjoyed
  • Deterioration of one’s overall emotional wellbeing


Effects of Marijuana Addiction

The prolonged abuse or marijuana can open the gateway for the development of many negative consequences in a person’s life. In addition to many ill effects that can potential occur marijuana abuse in general has been associated with poorer life satisfaction. Some specific examples of some effects that can result from long-term marijuana abuse include:

  • Compromised cognitive functioning
  • Reduced intellectual functioning
  • Hindered learning capabilities
  • Difficulty meeting work obligations, which may result in job loss
  • Higher rates of hospitalization
  • Onset or exacerbation of mental health disorders
  • Problems with personal relationships
  • Interaction with the legal system
  • Frequent accidents as a result of engagement in potentially dangerous behaviors
  • Respiratory illness
  • Weakened immune system
  • Lung damage
  • Development of certain types of cancer
  • Tachycardia

I noticed that I had a problem when I got high before every meal. Starlite Recovery Center effectively helped me pinpoint the root cause of my addiction and helped me attain sobriety.

– Matthew M.