By BrightView
Published: October 12, 2020
Updated: May 19, 2021

Marijuana or “weed” is becoming increasingly more acceptable in our society. It is the most commonly used substance after alcohol and tobacco. Recently, the legal ramifications of being caught with marijuana or dealing it are becoming less and less punitive in the eyes of the law. Also, with recreational marijuana use becoming legal across many states, a lot of people have conflicting and extremely different views of marijuana.  Today there is also a relatively decent following of people who believe that it does not or should not be classified in the same group as other hard drugs like heroin or cocaine.  However, regardless of any newfound views that society has placed on marijuana, it still has addictive qualities.

According to drugabuse.gov, “Recent data suggest that 30% of those who use marijuana may have some degree of marijuana use disorder.  People who begin using marijuana before the age of 18 are four to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder than adults.”  People who smoke marijuana frequently are at risk of developing something called marijuana use disorder.  The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM 5 considers marijuana use disorder as the continued use of cannabis despite clinically significant impairment. Signs of marijuana addiction include using more than intended, neglecting responsibilities in favor of using, building up a higher tolerance, and withdrawal symptoms such as feelings of anger, irritability and sensations of extreme nervousness or anxiety. Other symptoms such as a decrease in appetite and sleep disturbances are common with marijuana withdrawal. Addiction to marijuana usually happens after a person’s tolerance sets in, and thus dependence can form.  Like any drug, if it is used often enough, the brain can become accustomed to it.  When someone who is addicted to marijuana stops taking it abruptly, their body might attempt to overcompensate for what has been missing, such as raising the heart rate where marijuana tends to lower it.

Often, people who experience euphoria or a sense of calmness when smoking marijuana, may feel the exact opposite when stopping the habit, such as feeling anxious or increasingly sad.  When someone uses marijuana, there are specific receptors in the brain that are activated by a neurotransmitter called Anandamide.  Anandamide is involved in regulating mood, memory, appetite, pain, cognition, and emotions. Marijuana mimics and blocks neurotransmitters like Anandamide, sometimes to the point where the body does not produce it on its own.  Thus, the user’s brain can get “re programmed” to need marijuana to feel normal. According to Drugabuse.gov, several studies, including two large longitudinal studies, suggest that marijuana use can cause functional impairment in cognitive abilities but that the degree and/or duration of the impairment depends on the age when a person began using and how much and how long he or she used.

While marijuana might not be considered one of the most destructive drugs a person could be addicted to, it can still pose many problems for users such as legal complications, problems at work, falling behind in everyday tasks/school work, and an overall impaired ability to learn and remember things. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, data suggests that 30 percent of those who use marijuana may have some degree of “marijuana use disorder.” They add that people who use marijuana before age 18 are 4 to 7 times more likely to develop this use disorder than adults. BrightView offers addiction treatment for any substance that is considered addicting, including marijuana.  Some of our patients come to us for treatment for marijuana addiction solely, and others for poly-substance addiction (which is a fancy way of saying an addiction to more than one drug).  We welcome anyone who is seeking treatment for addiction to a substance and will be sure to create a treatment plan that is specifically tailored to your specific wants and needs.