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Marijuana Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, Risks, and Treatment Resources

Marijuana or cannabis is often considered a minor, harmless drug, but this isn’t always true. The plant-derived substance is used recreationally and in alternative medicine, but it can lead to abuse and dependence.

What Is Marijuana?

Marijuana, also known as cannabis, is a plant that grows in the warm climates of Asia and South America. People have used this plant in religious rituals and folk remedies for thousands of years. In more recent years, people have often used it recreationally. Over 52 million people in the United States have used marijuana in the last 12 months as of 2021.[1]

Cannabis is a psychoactive drug. This means it alters your state of consciousness. It isn’t a true hallucinogen, though it can sometimes produce hallucinations in very high doses. Similar to alcohol, it can make a person behave and think differently.

Some states have legalized this substance and used it to treat certain health conditions, such as anxiety, pain, and insomnia. Although cannabis is legal in several states, it is still considered a Schedule I drug, meaning it has the highest categorized potential for abuse.

Side Effects of Sativa Marijuana

There are two forms of cannabis: sativa and indica. While indica and sativa strains have many similarities, sativa is said to be more stimulating. This may cause an increased heart rate, anxiety, paranoia, and dizziness. Many people also experience dry mouth, increased hunger, difficulty concentrating, and memory problems.

Some people who use marijuana may have rare side effects, such as hallucinations, delusions, upset stomach, fainting, and vomiting. It is common for people who use cannabis to refer to this substance as weed, grass, Mary Jane, and bud.

Side Effects of Indica Marijuana

Indica cannabis strains are known for being relaxing. This can cause fatigue, confusion, muscle weakness, and memory problems. Very high doses of marijuana may cause a person to faint or fall into a very deep sleep. Others may experience mood and appetite changes.

How is Marijuana Taken?

Smoking marijuana is the most common way to experience this substance. The cannabis plant produces buds, which are then dried and smoked. Inhaling the smoke produces an immediate feeling of euphoria.

It is also possible to obtain liquid forms of this substance. Tinctures and oils are often used sublingually. This will create a sense of euphoria 20 to 30 minutes after the administration. Cannabis has to travel into the blood through the thin membranes under your tongue before it can enact its effects.

It is also possible to apply marijuana topically, but this usually creates faint, localized effects.

Marijuana Quick Reference

Drug Category



Smoking, sublingual, oral, topical

DEA Schedule

Schedule I

Commercial & Street Names

Weed, Mary Jane, grass, bud, flower, hash

Learn About Specific Drug Families

Statistics on Marijuana Use, Misuse, and Addiction

Due to its legal status across many states, and the ease of access, cannabis is one of the most widely used substances available. It is believed that around 30% of everyone who uses marijuana has a substance use disorder due to physical or psychological dependence.[2]

Effects of Marijuana Abuse

There is a fine line between using marijuana regularly and abusing it. The substance becomes a problem when you can’t function without it. When you’re not using cannabis, you may be thinking about using it, or you may have cravings. Marijuana abuse can make a person tired, socially isolated, and moody.

Some people may not be themselves when they are under the influence of this substance. It can also make it difficult to maintain a job and normal relationships.

Can You Overdose on Marijuana?

The good news about marijuana abuse is that no one has ever died from a marijuana overdose. However, this is not to say that no one has ever died from marijuana use. It is possible to die if you mix marijuana with other drugs. These include alcohol, depressant medications, and stimulants. But overdosing on marijuana alone is virtually impossible.

Signs and Symptoms of Marijuana Overdose

When you mix marijuana with alcohol or other drugs, a person can enter a stupor or become unconscious. They may also experience symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and confusion. Their heart rate may also be very low, and their breathing may be faint.

What to do if you suspect someone is overdosing on Marijuana laced with another

  • Call 911
  • Check for a pulse
  • If the person is not breathing, perform CPR
  • Stay with the person until medical help arrives

Dangers of Long-Term Marijuana Use

Long-term marijuana use is known to damage the brain. It is also linked to other serious mental conditions, such as schizophrenia and psychosis.[3] In some cases, these psychological disorders may become permanent. Long-term marijuana use may also cause anxiety, paranoia, memory problems, cognitive impairment, and a lower IQ.

Mixing Marijuana with Other Drugs

Marijuana acts as both a stimulant and a depressant, making it a dangerous substance to mix. It should never be taken with alcohol as it can lower your heart rate or even stop it. It can also make your breathing shallow and make it difficult to move. Taking it with other stimulants will increase the effects and intensify negative side effects.

Marijuana Addiction and Abuse

According to the DSM-5, it is possible to diagnose a cannabis use disorder based on the following criteria:[4]

  • Cannabis intoxication
  • Withdrawal
  • Cannabis-induced psychotic disorder
  • Intoxication delirium
  • Cannabis-induced anxiety disorder
  • Cannabis-induced sleep disorder

How Addictive is Marijuana?

Marijuana is a Schedule 1 controlled substance which confirms its high potential for abuse and addiction. Even recreational cannabis use can lead to physical and psychological dependence.

Signs of Addiction to Marijuana

Those addicted to cannabis may spend a lot of time using it and surround themselves with friends and family who share their habits. They may crave cannabis when they’re not using it. Some may steal money from people they know to buy more marijuana. Physical symptoms include bloodshot eyes, fatigue, and insomnia.

Marijuana Addiction and Mental Health

Being addicted to marijuana can cause depression and anxiety. It may also cause more serious mental health issues like psychosis and schizophrenia. It can be very hard to fix these problems once they develop, especially if you’ve been using marijuana for a long time.

Cutting Agents Used for Marijuana

When obtaining marijuana illegally, it is often cut with dried grass, herbs, PCP, and cocaine. The latter can make the substance even more addictive.

Marijuana Addiction Treatment

Detox Placement

Rehab for weed can be helpful for anyone suffering from a marijuana use disorder. Addiction treatment often lasts several months. It may be a year for those who have been using cannabis for a long time. The price will vary depending on what marijuana rehab treatment program you choose.

Detox placement consists of supervised medical detox. Letting these toxins leave your body when you have professional support is safer. This process is also known as medically managed withdrawal. Detox is a painful and potentially dangerous process. It takes most people several weeks to detox from marijuana.

It becomes much easier to pursue further treatment once this drug is out of your system.

Hudson County Drug & Alcohol Addiction Resource Guide

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment consists of scheduled therapy sessions throughout the week based on the patient’s needs. This is an ideal program for those who have stable home environments and are further along in their recovery.

Those with more advanced needs can get treatment several times a week. This program helps you stay focused on your responsibilities without abandoning treatment. Entering outpatient treatment will include screening, assessment, orientation, treatment, and aftercare.

Going through this process will help you overcome your addiction problems. It will also make it less likely that you will relapse.

Freehold Drug & Alcohol Addiction Recovery Guide

Partial Care

Partial care is a full-time program that’s a more intensive level of care than standard outpatient treatment. You will participate in treatment for much of the day but will not sleep at the facility. This flexibility allows patients to balance their lives with their treatment.

Patients in this program are medically monitored. This ensures that patients are taken care of both physically and mentally. Partial care treatment programs are tailored to meet the unique needs of each patient.

Therapies Used in Marijuana Addiction Treatment

Dual Diagnosis for Co-Occurring Disorders

Many people start using marijuana because they have anxiety, insomnia, or pain problems. Others may use it because they are already using other substances, such as alcohol, and want to experiment with something new. For those suffering from both mental health and substance use disorders, dual diagnosis treatment addresses both conditions simultaneously.

Marijuana Withdrawal Management Treatment

Going through cannabis withdrawal can be difficult and takes between one week and a month for most people. During this time, regular treatment and behavioral health therapy are necessary to reduce the risk of relapse and promote long-term recovery.

Drugs Used in Marijuana Withdrawal Management

So far, there are no known medications that help with marijuana withdrawal. Minor medications like Tylenol may be used to reduce pain and discomfort.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Health Risks of Using Marijuana?

Long-term health risks include decreased IQ, psychosis, schizophrenia, and anxiety.

How Can You Tell If You’re Addicted?

If you have constant cravings for cannabis and feel that you can’t function without it, you may have developed a dependence. Get the treatment you need as soon as possible to restore a healthier you.

Is second-hand Marijuana Smoke Addictive?

It is possible to experience the effects of cannabis through second-hand smoke. However, becoming addicted this way is very unlikely. If you are very worried about becoming addicted, it is best to avoid those who smoke marijuana.


NIDA. 2023, January 23. What is the scope of cannabis (marijuana) use in the United States?. Retrieved from on 2023, May 18


NIDA. 2021, April 13. Is marijuana addictive?. Retrieved from on 2023, May 18


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, June 8). Data and statistics. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from on May 18, 2023.


Patel J, Marwaha R. Cannabis Use Disorder. [Updated 2022 Jul 11]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Retrieved from on May 18, 2023.


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