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The Signs & Symptoms of Marijuana Use

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-like smell, but it may also smell like 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. Like 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 like 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.

Self-Assessment: Am I Addicted?

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 unlike 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 likely 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 out of 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 like 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.

Questions about treatment options?

Our admissions team is available 24/7 to listen to your story and help you get started with the next steps.

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