Recognize the Symptoms of Marijuana Addiction

Cannabis Addiction Symptoms

Recognize the Symptoms of Marijuana Addiction

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Also commonly referred to as 'marijuana', 'grass' and 'weed', cannabis is a mixture of dried leaves, flowers and stems from the cannabis sativa plant and is the most commonly misused illegal substance in the UK. Cannabis is typically smoked, either in a cigarette form or via a pipe, while the drug may also be misused by brewing it in tea or cooking it in certain foods.

Cannabis affects your central nervous system to produce sensations including relaxation, mild euphoria, increased appetite and difficulties perceiving space and time.

Many people mistakenly believe that cannabis is a safe or harmless substance, although if you misuse cannabis you expose yourself to both immediate harm and long-term damage, including the development of an addiction.

If you become addicted to cannabis, you will feel compelled to continue to misuse this substance, often in increasingly greater amounts, to the detriment to both your physical and mental health.

Cannabis addiction symptoms

As with all forms of substance misuse and addiction, cannabis misuse may reveal itself through a variety of signs and symptoms, which can vary in appearance and severity from person to person.

The following are the more common signs of cannabis misuse.

Behavioural symptoms:

  • Frequent, unexplained absences from work or school
  • Declining performance at work or in school
  • Losing interest in activities or events that were previously significant
  • Lying, secrecy or other forms of deception involving whereabouts and/or activities
  • Possessing rolling papers, water pipes and other paraphernalia
  • Continuing to misuse cannabis even after experiencing negative repercussions due to prior misuse of the drug
  • Trying but being incapable of stopping or reducing your cannabis use
  • Using cannabis when it is clearly dangerous to do so, such as prior to driving a car

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Those with a cannabis addiction often experience the following physical symptoms:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased appetite
  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Impaired balance
  • Poor co-ordination
  • Lack of attention to grooming and hygiene

Mental symptoms:

Mental symptoms of cannabis addiction can include:

  • Problems concentrating or focusing
  • Delayed responsiveness
  • Poor judgement
  • Impaired ability to track the passage of time
  • Indecisiveness
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia

Social symptoms:

  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Associating with new peers

This page was reviewed by Stephanie Chick (FDAP) in July 2020, and is scheduled to be reviewed again in July 2022. To view all Priory cannabis addiction specialists, please click here.

Effects of cannabis misuse and addiction

The aforementioned symptoms listed are far from the only impact that cannabis misuse may have on your life. Depending upon the duration and severity of your misuse of cannabis, you may experience the following negative outcomes:

  • Heart and/or lung problems
  • Delayed mental processing
  • Injuries from actions sustained whilst under the influence of cannabis
  • Financial problems
  • Legal problems, including being arrested, fined and imprisoned
  • Family difficulties
  • Problems in friendships and other personal relationships
  • Diminished self-esteem and persistent sense of hopelessness

When you choose to enter a comprehensive treatment programme to get help for your cannabis addiction, you can avoid future damage and can begin to heal from any past harm that you have experienced.

In addition to helping you overcome the compulsion to misuse cannabis, effective professional treatment can also help you to develop the skills that will empower you to pursue a much more productive and satisfying life.

Symptoms of cannabis withdrawal

When you become dependent upon cannabis, your body will adapt to the presence of this drug in your system. When you then attempt to stop misusing cannabis, your body may react with a variety of unpleasant symptoms.

As is the case with all aspects of substance misuse, cannabis withdrawal symptoms may vary from person to person based upon several personal factors. However, the following are among the more common cannabis withdrawal symptoms:

  • Strong urges for cannabis
  • Sleep problems
  • Persistent dizziness
  • Problems focusing or concentrating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Depression

Your potential for experiencing withdrawal symptoms, and their ability to push you back to using cannabis, are among the many reasons why choosing to enter an effective comprehensive treatment programme may be the ideal choice for you.

At Priory hospitals and clinics, you can participate in detoxification prior to starting residential treatment for your cannabis problem. During detoxification, or detox, you will be in a safe environment under the care of experienced professionals.

Detox can help you to stop using cannabis with maximum safety and minimal discomfort. A successful detox experience can be an essential first step along your path to long-term abstinence from cannabis misuse.

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Marijuana (Weed, Cannabis) Drug Facts, Effects

Recognize the Symptoms of Marijuana Addiction

Marijuana is the dried leaves and flowers of the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant. Stronger forms of the drug include high potency strains — known as sinsemilla (sin-seh-me-yah), hashish (hash for short), and extracts.

Of the more than 500 chemicals in marijuana, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, known as THC, is responsible for many of the drug’s psychotropic (mind-altering) effects. It’s this chemical that distorts how the mind perceives the world. In other words, it's what makes a person high.

Read 10 things you can learn about marijuana.

Strength and Potency

The amount of THC in marijuana has increased over the past few decades. In the early 1990s, the average THC content in marijuana was less than 4 percent. It is now about 15 percent and much higher in some products such as oils and other extracts (see below). Scientists do not yet know what this increase in potency means for a person’s health.

Some people adjust how they consume marijuana (by smoking or eating less) to compensate for the greater potency.

There have been reports of people seeking help in emergency rooms with symptoms, including nervousness, shaking and psychosis (having false thoughts or seeing or hearing things that aren't there), after consuming high concentrations of THC. 

Marijuana Extracts

Smoking extracts and resins from the marijuana plant with high levels of THC is on the rise. There are several forms of these extracts. These resins have 3 to 5 times more THC than the plant itself.

Smoking or vaping it (also called dabbing) can deliver dangerous amounts of THC and has led some people to seek treatment in the emergency room.

There have also been reports of people injured in fires and explosions caused by attempts to extract hash oil from marijuana leaves using butane (lighter fluid).

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All drugs change the way the brain works by changing the way nerve cells communicate. Nerve cells, called neurons, send messages to each other by releasing chemicals called neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters attach to molecules on neurons called receptors. (Learn more about how neurotransmitters work.) Drugs affect this signaling process.

When marijuana is smoked or vaporized, THC quickly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, which carries it to organs throughout the body, including the brain. Its effects begin almost immediately and can last from 1 to 3 hours.

This can affect decision making, concentration, and memory for days after use, especially in people who use marijuana regularly.1 If marijuana is consumed in foods or beverages, the effects of THC appear later—usually in 30 minutes to 1 hour—and may last for many hours.

 Some people consume more and more waiting for the “high” and end up in the emergency room with uncomfortable symptoms from too much THC.

As it enters the brain, THC attaches to cells, or neurons, with specific kinds of receptors called cannabinoid receptors. Normally, these receptors are activated by chemicals similar to THC that occur naturally in the body. They are part of a communication network in the brain called the endocannabinoid system. This system is important in normal brain development and function.

Most of the cannabinoid receptors are found in parts of the brain that influence pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement.

Marijuana activates the endocannabinoid system, which causes the «high» and stimulates the release of dopamine in the brain's reward centers, reinforcing the behavior.

Other effects include changes in perceptions and mood, lack of coordination, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, and disrupted learning and memory.

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Learn more about how the brain works and what happens when a person uses drugs.

Yes, marijuana can be addictive—meaning they continue to use it despite negative consequences.

Approximately 10 percent of people who use marijuana may develop what is called a marijuana use disorder—problems with their health, school, friendships, family or other conflicts in their life.

A serious substance use disorder is commonly called an addiction. The person can’t stop using marijuana even though it gets in the way of daily life.

5 People who begin using marijuana before the age of 18 are 4–7 times more ly than adults to develop a marijuana use disorder.6

What causes one person to become addicted to marijuana while another does not depends on many factors—including their family history (genetics), the age they start using, if they also use other drugs, their family and friend relationships, and if they take part in positive activities school, after school clubs or or sports. More research needs to be done to determine if people who use marijuana for medical reasons are at the same risk for addiction as those who use it just to get high.

Watch the Swiss Cheese Model of Drug Addiction and learn why some people who use drugs become addicted and others do not.

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People who use marijuana may feel a mild withdrawal when they stop using the drug, but might not recognize their symptoms as drug withdrawal. These symptoms may include:

  • irritability
  • sleeplessness
  • lack of appetite, which can lead to weight loss
  • anxiety
  • drug cravings

These effects can last for several days to a few weeks after drug use is stopped. Relapse (returning to the drug after you’ve quit) is common during this period because people may crave the drug to relieve these symptoms.

If you, or a friend, are in crisis and need to speak with someone now: 

  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (they don't just talk about suicide—they cover a lot of issues and will help put you in touch with someone close by)

If you want to help a friend, you can:

View Transcript

If a friend is using drugs, you might have to step away from the friendship for a while. It is important to protect your own mental health and not put yourself in situations where drugs are being used.

For more information on how to help a friend or loved one, visit our Have a Drug Problem, Need Help? page.


What are the signs and symptoms of cannabis addiction?

Recognize the Symptoms of Marijuana Addiction

Symptoms of Marijuana Addiction

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Cannabis addiction is associated with a whole host of psychological, physical, behavioural and social symptoms. As well as being unique to each individual, these symptoms can also vary according to how much cannabis you are using, how frequently you are using cannabis, the method by which you are consuming cannabis and the strength of the cannabis that you’re using.

Our highly experienced team at Life Works are dedicated to enabling you to overcome your challenges and get your life back on track. Understanding the signs and symptoms of cannabis addiction is the first step towards finding appropriate cannabis addiction treatment, and achieving recovery and wellbeing.

As well as consuming cannabis on a regular basis, the following are also signs that you, or someone that you know, may be struggling with a harmful addiction:

Psychological symptoms of cannabis addiction:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Feeling nervous and ‘on edge’
  • Defensiveness
  • Agitation
  • Increased temper and irritability
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Reduced self-esteem
  • Mood swings
  • Inability to track the passage of time
  • Poor judgement
  • Memory problems
  • Regularly consuming cannabis to relieve stress and tension; this can often be the trigger for many people who go on to become addicted to cannabis
  • Finding it hard to focus or concentrate at work, home, or in any other areas of your life
  • Intense cravings for cannabis
  • Exacerbation of any existing mental health problems

Physical symptoms of cannabis addiction:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Increased appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Disrupted sleep patterns, including insomnia
  • Feeling tired and lethargic
  • Impaired balance and co-ordination
  • Lack of concern over physical appearance/personal hygiene
  • Appearance of withdrawal symptoms, such as irritability, and feeling shaky, emotionally volatile and nauseous, if you haven’t consumed cannabis for a certain amount of time

Behavioural and social symptoms of cannabis addiction:

  • Continuing to take cannabis despite the negative effects that this has had on your life
  • Using other drugs alongside cannabis
  • Engaging in risky behaviours when under the influence of cannabis e.g. driving
  • Avoiding contact with family and friends, leading to social isolation
  • Finding that you only tend to spend time with other people who take cannabis
  • Devoting an excessive amount of time to obtaining and using cannabis
  • Prioritising cannabis over other activities
  • Losing interest in activities, hobbies or events that were once important to you
  • Neglecting responsibilities and relationships
  • Poor performance and/or attendance at work

To discuss how the Life Works team can help to support individuals and families dealing with cannabis addiction and for further information on treatment and rehabilitation programmes, please call: 01483 745 066 or click here to book a FREE ADDICTION ASSESSMENT.

Denial is another common symptom of cannabis addiction. You may deny that you have a problem with cannabis misuse both to yourself and others through:

  • Minimising the effects of your cannabis use
  • Criticising those around you for making too much fuss about your cannabis use
  • Concealing your cannabis misuse from your loved ones
  • Considerably underestimating the amount of cannabis you are taking
  • Placing the blame for your cannabis use on other people or situations in your life

What are the long-term effects of cannabis addiction?

Cannabis addiction can also result in a whole host of long-term negative effects such as:

  • Damage to internal organs such as the heart and lungs
  • Problems with mental processing
  • Reduced self-esteem
  • Strained or ruined relationships
  • Family breakdowns
  • Job loss and long-term unemployment
  • Financial difficulties
  • Homelessness
  • Legal problems, including arrest and imprisonment

Why it’s so important to get help for your cannabis addiction

At Life Works, we know that cannabis addiction is an illness. This is central to our clinical philosophy and underpins our approach to cannabis addiction treatment. We use the very latest research to inform our understanding of how problems with cannabis use affect the individual and how we can provide effective treatment for these problems.

Feeling ashamed or guilty about your behaviour can be incredibly difficult and often increases your need to take cannabis, if only to get relief from these feelings. This is one of the most common and insidious symptoms of cannabis addiction.

This page was reviewed by Steve Clarke, Hospital Director, (MSc, NCFED) in 2019.

To discuss how the Life Works team can help to support individuals and families dealing with cannabis addiction and for further information on treatment and rehabilitation programmes, please call: 01483 745 066 or click here to book a FREE ADDICTION ASSESSMENT.

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The Signs & Symptoms of Marijuana Use

Recognize the Symptoms of Marijuana Addiction

Marijuana use is incredibly common. It’s becoming even more normalized now that states are legalizing it not just as medicine, but recreationally. Fifty-two percent of Americans say they’ve tried marijuana at least once before, though the actual number is probably higher. Marijuana is known by a variety of slang terms, including:

  • Pot
  • Weed
  • Grass
  • Ganja
  • Reefer
  • Tree
  • And many others

The “high” from marijuana comes from tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is a psychoactive compound.

There are many ways to consume marijuana. It’s most commonly used by smoking the dried flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant. It can also be eaten (“edibles”) or taken in an extract.

It can be vaporized and smoked with a vape pen. There’s also “dabbing,” which involves heating up marijuana extract oil and inhaling the smoke.

This type of use can be dangerous due to extremely high THC exposure and risk of burns.

In general, the marijuana used today contains more THC than marijuana did in the past. Because it’s become more socially acceptable to use marijuana, more ways are being found to increase the potency of marijuana.

Although some believe marijuana isn’t addictive at all, this isn’t true. It’s easier than ever to become addicted to marijuana. When this happens, it’s extremely difficult to quit abusing marijuana on your own. Rehab for marijuana addiction is often necessary to return to normal daily functioning.

Below are signs and symptoms your marijuana use has turned into addiction, or cannabis use disorder. If you observe them in yourself or a loved one, it may be time to consider treatment options.

Physical Signs of Marijuana Use

The physical effects of marijuana may mean it’s easier to tell if someone’s been using it, but long-term users may be very good at hiding the fact that they’re under the influence. The better you know the person, the easier you’ll notice subtle changes in their appearance and movements.

Short-term physical symptoms of marijuana addiction: include

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Increased appetite
  • Impaired coordination
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Elevated heart rate

Long-term physical symptoms of marijuana addiction include:

  • Weight gain
  • Lung infections

Behavioral Signs of Marijuana Use

You’ll notice most behavioral signs of marijuana addiction over the long-term. Short-term signs are subtle enough that you may mistake them for normal mood changes. The longer someone abuses marijuana, the more severely it will affect their life.

Short-term behavioral symptoms of marijuana addiction include:

  • Decreased physical activity
  • Lethargy (lack of enthusiasm and energy)
  • Overeating

Long-term behavioral symptoms of marijuana addiction include:

  • Choosing marijuana over other previously enjoyed activities
  • Continuing to use marijuana even when it’s causing problems in your school or work performance
  • Less time spent with family and friends
  • Poor hygiene
  • Using marijuana with higher concentrations of THC
  • Creation of a tolerance to the drug (needing more of it over time to get the same high)

Mental/Emotional Signs of Marijuana Use

Marijuana can affect different people differently, depending on the strain of marijuana used and the particular chemical reaction in a person’s body. For the vast majority of people, pot acts as a “downer.” This means it has a general calming and slowing-down effect on the mind and emotions.

Short-term mental and emotional symptoms of marijuana addiction include:

  • Euphoria
  • Lack of motivation
  • Nervousness or paranoia
  • Slowed reaction time
  • Impaired judgment
  • Distorted perception
  • Sleepiness

Long-term mental and emotional symptoms of marijuana addiction include:

  • Memory impairment
  • Impaired cognition
  • Mood swings
  • Inhibited mental development
  • Reduced ability to learn
  • Cravings for the drug
  • Depression

Environmental Signs of Marijuana Use

If you suspect your loved one is using marijuana, pay close attention to their surroundings. If marijuana use is part of someone’s daily life, there will probably be paraphernalia or other items related to the drug in their living spaces.

The following are environmental symptoms of marijuana abuse:

  • Rolling papers
  • Vape pens
  • Pipes
  • Bongs
  • Lighters or matches
  • Sticky brown residue from marijuana resin
  • Suspicious foods in places food isn’t normally stored
  • Smell – Marijuana has a characteristic skunk- smell, but it may also smell citrus or ammonia.
  • Marijuana symbols, such as a pot leaf, on clothing, accessories, or other objects – “Weed culture” doesn’t have to indicate marijuana use, but often does.

Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms

When you use marijuana for a long time, your body becomes accustomed to regular amounts of cannabis. any drug, your body reacts when it’s suddenly deprived of it. Marijuana withdrawal symptoms aren’t as severe as the withdrawal symptoms of drugs opiates. However, while not deadly, that doesn’t mean marijuana detox symptoms are mild.

If you’ve been consuming high amounts of THC, such as through dabbing, your withdrawal symptoms will be significantly worse. This is why it’s important to go through a medically supervised detox program.

Below are signs and symptoms of marijuana withdrawal:

  • Cravings
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Sweating, including cold sweats
  • Diminished appetite
  • Stomach problems

Learn more about withdrawing from marijuana, including the marijuana withdrawal timeline, here.

Don’t Wait Too Long to Get Help for Marijuana Abuse

People abuse marijuana for the same reasons anyone abuses drugs, including the fact that it dulls emotions, especially anxiety, fear, shame, and other intensely distressing ones.

But un other drugs, there’s a perception that marijuana is safe—even harmless. Addiction is never harmless.

It’s only a matter of time until someone abusing marijuana finds their relationships, school or work performance, and mental health suffering.

People rarely die of marijuana use, and it’s difficult to overdose on the substance. This serves to make it harder for people to find motivation to quit. There will ly be continued pressure—from others or yourself—to use marijuana again, and, in the absence of clear danger, it’s hard to say no. This just makes the addiction more powerful.

There are steps you can take to help you or your loved one addiction. Take note of the effects and consequences you’re dealing with as a result of marijuana use. Learn what you can about marijuana addiction and the treatments available for it near you.

Marijuana abuse treatment comes in different forms, each designed for a different level of need. They are:

If you have a loved one struggling with marijuana addiction, are addicted yourself, or just would more information, contact Footprints to Recovery treatment center. Calls are always confidential and free. We are here to help you or loved one begin the journey towards sobriety.



Psychological symptoms of cannabis addiction:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia and defensiveness
  • Feeling nervous and ‘on edge’
  • Agitation
  • Increased temper and irritability
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Reduced self-esteem
  • Mood swings
  • Distorted perception of the passage of time
  • Poor judgement and decision-making capabilities
  • Memory problems
  • Regularly consuming cannabis to relieve stress and tension; this can often be the trigger for many people who go on to become addicted to cannabis
  • Finding it hard to focus or concentrate
  • Intense cravings for cannabis
  • Exacerbation of any existing mental health problems

Physical symptoms of cannabis addiction:

  • Dry mouth
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Increased appetite
  • Impaired balance, co-ordination and motor skills
  • Delayed reaction time
  • Disrupted sleep patterns, including insomnia
  • Feeling tired and lethargic
  • Lack of concern over physical appearance/personal hygiene
  • Appearance of withdrawal symptoms if you haven’t consumed cannabis for a certain amount of time

What are the effects of cannabis withdrawal?

Individuals who have a long history of cannabis abuse may experience several unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to stop using cannabis or significantly reduce their cannabis consumption. These may include:

  • Strong cravings for cannabis
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Agitation
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

If it is deemed as being an appropriate step for you, you will be able to undertake our medically assisted withdrawal detoxification programme at Manor Clinic. The purpose of this is to remove all traces of cannabis from your system and help you to manage the withdrawal symptoms that you experience.

This page was reviewed by Sarina Wheatman (FDAP) in October 2021.

Contact The Manor Clinic Today

To discuss how the Manor Clinic team can help to support individuals and families dealing with an addiction issue or for further information on treatment and rehabilitation programmes, please call: 023 8046 4721 or CLICK HERE TO MAKE AN ENQUIRY.

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