What is Marijuana Addiction?

Marijuana is generally available as a greenish-gray mixture of the dried parts of the Cannabis plant (leaves, stems, and flowers). Although some would argue about its addictive properties, theres no denying that marijuana addiction is a real thing.

Advancing cultivation methods have added other colors to the various strains of Cannabis, including purple and red. The main active ingredient in marijuana is “tetrahydracannabinol” (called “THC”). When smoked, the effects of THC are almost immediate and can last from 1-3 hours.

On the street, marijuana is referred to by many names, including:

  • Pot
  • Grass
  • Weed
  • Hemp
  • Chronic
  • Herb
  • Ganja

How is Marijuana Ingested?

Marijuana is mainly ingested though inhalation by smoking. There are many ways to smoke marijuana, including:

  • Rolled in paper and smoked like a cigarette, usually without a filter (called a “joint”)
  • Packed into premade cigar tubes or hollowed out cigars (called “blunts”)
  • In small hand pipes designed for smoking marijuana (sometimes called, “bowls”)
  • In larger pipes of varying complexity and size, that may include water chambers (called, “bongs”)
  • In elaborate pipes with hose attachments for multiple users (called, “hookahs”)

Vaporizing or “vaping” marijuana has become a popular method of inhalation. Vaping uses an electronic device to heat marijuana to a temperature where the THC vaporizes, but without actually burning the material.

Burning and smoking marijuana creates a pungent smoke, while vaping marijuana creates a less intense odor (may smell something like burnt popcorn).  Vapor generally dissipates more quickly than smoke.

Marijuana can also be processed and added into foods (“edibles”).

How Does Marijuana Addiction Effect the Brain?

When THC enters the bloodstream, THC breaks down into chemicals that act on receptors in the brain that receive naturally occurring brain chemicals that are similar in shape\.

The greatest concentration of these receptors is found in the areas of the brain governing pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, time sense and perception, and coordinated movement. THC over-activates and floods the system, leaving users with the characteristic “high” and other side effects.

Why Worry about Marijuana Addiction?

In some areas of the country, Marijuana is popularly viewed as a safe – even recreational – substance, especially when compared to other street drugs like heroin and cocaine (or even when compared to the ravages caused by alcohol abuse and drug addiction).

Several states in the country are enacting laws to establish regulated “medical marijuana” dispensaries, where the drug is available by prescription. Other states are fully legalizing marijuana use, or decriminalizing its possession.

It would be easy to fall into the mindset that marijuana presents no real danger to the public.

However, marijuana is a drug – a mind and mood altering substance – and marijuana addiction is real. People who chronically use marijuana – and chronic users who try to stop – often experience both physical and psychological adverse effects.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Marijuana Addiction?

Marijuana use can increase paranoia, and depression, as well as causing the inability to think clearly. Although these effects will tend to wear off within a relatively short period, for some users they can last for an extended period of time. Some psychological effects can last for months.

A person who has, or is developing marijuana addiction may display any of several common signs and symptoms, including:

  • Tolerance: Larger and larger amounts of marijuana may be needed to reach the same level of intoxication that the user could reach with smaller amounts when use began.
  • Loss of Control: people struggling with marijuana addiction may often find themselves using more than they planned, promised, or intended.
  • Cravings: people with marijuana addiction will find themselves obsessively thinking about marijuana, and may feel a strong sense of urgency or “need” to get high.
  • Self-Medicating: Many people begin using marijuana to relaxation, or coping with feelings (like anxiety, depression, etc.). Users may find themselves psychologically dependent upon the marijuana and will be unable to relax or deal with feelings in the absence of the drug.
  • Withdrawal: Withdrawal symptoms may occur if marijuana is denied or unavailable, including agitation, anxiety, irritability, poor appetite, mood swings, insomnia, depression and fatigue.

What Can You Do?

Please call our California treatment center today to find out what therapy programs may be available for you or your loved one. Call our rehab facilities in CA 24 hours a day at 866-441-3700, or contact us here.