Having a loved one who is addicted to marijuana is difficult to describe, and approaching that person about their addiction is even more difficult. It is a topic argued over constantly, whether or not someone can develop an addiction to marijuana. People don’t overdose on marijuana, so the negative effects of addiction don’t seem as bad as heroin addiction, so it is easier for them to minimize and overlook. Being able to identify the signs of marijuana abuse can open the door for a discussion about getting help.
What Does Marijuana Abuse Look Like?
Have you ever been in a situation where your loved one was extremely stressed or frustrated and the only thing that could calm them down was smoking weed? Or have you noticed that they smoke a blunt before each meal and even before they go to sleep? It’s easy to make excuses and believe that marijuana addictions don’t exist, but if your loved one needs marijuana in order to complete basic, everyday tasks, it is time to pay attention to the other signs.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 30% of people actively using marijuana develop a marijuana abuse disorder. Though not everyone who smokes weed becomes addicted, and many people only do so socially or are able to stop, there are some people with underlying factors that can increase their risk for developing a marijuana abuse disorder. Someone who has underlying mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, or schizophrenia is at an increased risk of becoming addicted to marijuana. People are also more prone to developing an addiction if they have a family history of substance abuse or if they are genetically predisposed to developing addictions.
Signs of Marijuana Addiction
- Increased Tolerance or Experiencing Withdrawal Symptoms: As someone smokes weed more and more, the amount they need to feel the desired effects increases. When there is no marijuana in their system, they may experience withdrawal symptoms: mood swings, irritability, insomnia, loss of appetite, cravings, cold sweats or chills, and depression.
- Physical Signs: These may include red eyes, greatly slowed reaction time, or an overwhelming smell of marijuana.
- Inability to Cut Down or Stop Use Completely: As the body and brain have become dependent on the drug for basic functions such as sleeping and eating, it can be very difficult for someone to slow down or stop marijuana use on their own.
- Lots of Time Spent Getting High: As tolerance increases, marijuana users often spend more and more time getting high as effects wear off quicker.
- Isolation: Withdrawing from family and friends or spending less time doing activities they once enjoyed.
- Getting High Even Though It Is Causing Problems: Marijuana abuse often interferes with relationships, but someone may continue to prioritize getting high. The drug becomes the most important thing in this person’s life.
- Smoking to Escape From Problems: Many people will use smoking as a means of relaxing or escaping from their daily stressors that may be causing them problems. Rather than address the problem, someone may instead choose to just get high to forget about it.
- Depending on Weed to Relax or Enjoy Something: Someone addicted to marijuana may feel that they cannot enjoy activities or relax without smoking, and by reinforcing those feelings with marijuana, the brain associates having fun and relaxation with smoking weed.
- Choosing Friends and Activities Based on the Ability to Get High: If someone is addicted or reliant on marijuana, they may choose to only hang out with people in situations where they know they’ll be able to get high. This may result in a change of friends or hangout spots.
- Can’t Eat or Sleep Without Getting High: Marijuana relaxes the brain and increases appetite. A lot of people will get tired when they smoke or they may experience the “munchies” and continued use can train the brain to rely on marijuana for sleeping and eating.
- Buying Various Marijuana Products: There are various ways a person can use marijuana, so your loved one may have purchased different products to aid in smoking, vaping, or eating THC-containing products.
- Financial Problems: Most people who abuse marijuana want to make sure they have a constant supply available to them, so they may spend a lot of money on the drug. They may ask to borrow cash or make frequent withdrawals of cash, and they may even try to steal money in order to support their needs.
- Legal Issues: In some states, recreational marijuana use is legal while in others it is not. Someone who is addicted to marijuana may often drive while high, and this may cause them to come in contact with police officers.
- Avoiding Jobs That Require Drug Tests: A lot of jobs are starting to require drug tests or they perform random drug tests, so if a person is addicted to marijuana, they may avoid specific jobs despite it being a good opportunity.
If your loved one is showing signs of marijuana addiction, it can be frustrating trying to bring this up, especially since there is still a belief that marijuana is not addictive. Open up a conversation with them about your concern for their increased use, and try to avoid telling them that they are addicted or that marijuana is addictive. By showing concern over their increased need for the drug, it can be easier to show that you want to help and support them, and this may enable a conversation about them getting help. The Summit Wellness Group’s team of recovery experts is equipped with the experience and knowledge to help your loved one find a new way of life by providing tools, therapies, and techniques for overcoming marijuana addiction.