Marijuana Addiction: How to Recover

April 10, 2023

While many people believe that marijuana (also known as weed or pot) is a harmless drug, research suggests that it can be addictive and lead to serious physical and mental health issues.

As marijuana continues to become legalized or decriminalized across the nation, it’s important to understand the health risks of this drug. Just like alcohol, marijuana being legal doesn’t make it 100% safe.

Understanding Marijuana Addiction

Marijuana is a psychoactive drug that alters the brain's chemistry, producing a sense of euphoria and relaxation.

However, with regular use, the brain adapts to the drug's effects and requires more to achieve the same high. This phenomenon is known as tolerance and is a hallmark of addiction. That being said, not everyone who has a high tolerance is an addict, but it’s often the case.

Marijuana addiction is a chronic, relapsing condition characterized by compulsive drug-seeking and use despite negative consequences. It can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or socioeconomic status, and it can lead to a host of physical and mental health problems.

However, because marijuana is legal, decriminalized, or essentially ignored in many parts of the country, and because marijuana users are much less likely to have the same kind of destructive habits or incidents that you see in users of harder drugs, like meth or heroin, it’s often not viewed as addictive.

What’s important to focus on is scale — even though a marijuana user might not be crashing cars like an alcoholic, they might still be having consequences, just on a lower scale. A consequence is still a consequence, regardless of how big it is.

For example, not getting a job because you couldn’t pass a drug test isn’t necessarily a big consequence, but it’s still a consequence that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

Signs and Symptoms of Marijuana Addiction

Marijuana addiction is a bit more subtle than addiction to more “destructive” drugs, like cocaine. Here are some of the signs:

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you might be addicted. If so, only you can decide if you want to seek help or continue along this destructive path.

Is Marijuana Addictive? Debunking Common Myths

Despite the evidence suggesting that marijuana can be addictive, many people still believe otherwise. Here are some common myths:

The Risks of Marijuana Addiction

Marijuana addiction can have serious physical and mental health consequences. Some of the risks associated with long-term marijuana use include:

Seeking Help

If you or someone you love is struggling with marijuana addiction, the first step is to seek professional help. If your addiction is not causing you too many problems, you might start with your doctor.

Your primary care physician can provide a referral to a qualified addiction specialist, who might then refer you to a higher level of care, like sober living or IOP.

If these levels of care are insufficient, you might consider a treatment center, either inpatient or outpatient.

These offer a range of services, including detoxification, counseling, and support groups. It’s not uncommon for them to recommend a psychiatrist or therapist (or both) during and after treatment.

Recovery: What to Expect

Recovery is a lifelong process that requires commitment and dedication. While the road can be challenging, it's essential to remember that you can overcome addiction and live a fulfilling life.

Some things to expect include:

Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to deal with these issues:

It's essential to remember that recovery is a process, and setbacks can happen. The most important thing is to stay committed to the recovery journey and keep moving forward.

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Cristal Clark, LPC-S, is the Medical Reviewer for ASIC Recovery Services. She reviews all website content for quality and medical accuracy. She is a master’s level Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor and graduated from Liberty University in 2011. She has worked in the behavioral and mental health field for over 12 years and has a passion for helping others. She has been clinical director and CEO of a 200 plus bed facility, PHP, and IOP, with experience managing a team of counselors, individual/group/and family therapy, and coordinating continuum of care. Cristal is trained in EMDR and certified in non-violent intervention. She is a member of American Counseling Association and American Association of Christian Counselors.

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