Last updated: 04/12/2019
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review
Reading Time: 3 minutes
Although laws regarding the use of marijuana have become more liberal in recent years, and there is much controversy as to the true severity of risks associated with marijuana use, many still admit that this drug is both a gateway to substance abuse problems and a seriously risk venture in which repeat use can lead to addiction and a dire need for treatment.
While mixed concerns exist across the board as to whether marijuana is or is not a dangerous substance of abuse, there are certain elements of marijuana use that can be agreed upon including:
- Marijuana is known to reduce the ability to see peripherally.
- Marijuana is proven to reduce the ability for the user to multitask and perform multiple functions at a given time.
- Marijuana is proven to reduce driving ability causing impairment.
- Marijuana slows decision making and can lead to increased time in order for reflex motions to occur.
Psychologically, marijuana use can lead to a number of concerns such as anxiety, heightened paranoia and increased symptoms of depression.
Likely the most serious of issues related to the use of marijuana is the subsequent withdrawal symptoms that a user will experience when he or she stops using the drug. Such symptoms can include:
- Anxiety that is more severe than prior to smoking pot.
- Social intolerance or an inability to be around people without feeling anxious or irritable.
- Psychotic reactions including depression and schizophrenia.
- Depression that is not easily treated.
- Increased or rapid heartbeat.
- Heighted risk of heart attack.
- Changes in mood.
- Changes in appetite.
- Reduced ability to think clearly.
Fortunately, there are a number of treatment options for those who are in the early stages of marijuana withdrawal. Quitting does not generally require medical intervention, but monitoring for safety can help to reduce the impact of side effects while also minimizing the risk of early relapse when symptoms of dependence and withdrawal are at their peak.
Recognizing Marijuana Addiction
Both the mental and physical health of the user can suffer greatly when marijuana addiction sets in. Recognizing an addiction early on and seeking help immediately is key to the reduction of long term consequences associated with this potentially deadly disease. You may be addicted to marijuana if:
- You’ve developed a tolerance to the drug.
- You smoke pot regularly and when you aren’t high you are thinking about getting high.
- You feel sick, have lack of appetite, can’t sleep or otherwise feel uncomfortable when you don’t smoke pot.
- You can’t control your drug use, you agree to quit or cut back, but despite your promises to others or to yourself you continue to abuse the drug.
- You spend much of your time getting high and are not focused on other elements of life such as work, your family or school.
- You have been arrested, sick, financially burdened or otherwise in trouble as a result of your drug use, but you continue to use marijuana anyway.
- You smoke pot as a way to cope, relax and feel good—because without it you wouldn’t relax or feel good.
What Should I Do?
If you suspect that you’re addicted, seek professional help immediate. Many treatment options are available to reduce the impact of drug use on your life. You can consider a support group such as NA or Marijuana Anonymous, or consider asking a friend or relative for support.
If you’re ready to get professional treatment, residential care can be helpful but is not always necessary for an addiction to marijuana. Often times, outpatient care is sufficient to help with the cravings, to teach new life skills and to provide coping skills that will lead to recovery.