How Do You Know If Someone Is Addicted to Weed?
Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
If your friend smokes weed and you are concerned that it is a problem, talk to them about it. A clear sign that recreational substances, such as alcohol or marijuana, have become an addiction is when family life, daily activities, and ability to work is impeded, and/or they can’t stop using the substance even though they want to quit.
Is Marijuana Addictive?
Marijuana addiction is uncommon and can only be diagnosed in severe cases. Only a small percentage of users will develop what is known as a marijuana use disorder. The number rises significantly for those who started using weed in their teens, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). If your friend uses pot occasionally, they likely do not have an addiction to marijuana.
Marijuana Use Disorder
Rather than use the term “addiction,” health professionals prefer the term “marijuana use disorder.” The NIDA estimates that about 30% of marijuana users may have some degree of marijuana use disorder.
If your friend frequently uses marijuana and experiences withdrawal symptoms upon stopping the drug, they may be considered to have marijuana dependence. Marijuana withdrawal symptoms are typically mild, peak within the first week after quitting, and may last up to two weeks. Symptoms include:
- Trouble sleeping
- Decreased appetite
Marijuana Effects on the Adolescent Brain
Research has examined how marijuana affects teens. Some studies suggest that teenagers who use marijuana frequently may experience short-term effects such as problems with memory, learning, coordination, and judgment.
There are also long-term effects. Some studies suggest an association between regular marijuana use in teens and “altered connectivity and reduced volume of specific brain regions.” But other studies “have not found significant structural differences between the brains of users and non-users.”
A large cohort study followed nearly 4,000 young adults over a 25-year period into mid-adulthood. It found that although cumulative lifetime exposure to marijuana is associated with lower verbal memory test scores, exposure did not affect other cognitive abilities like processing speed or executive function.
Studies have found that frequent use of marijuana as a teenager can be associated with an average IQ loss of eight points that were not recoverable after quitting. However, the same use in adults showed no reduction in IQ. The research data suggests marijuana’s strongest long-term impact is on young users whose brains are still developing.
Marijuana As a Gateway Drug
Marijuana is not generally considered a “gateway drug” because the majority of weed users do not go on to use harder, addictive substances, including cocaine and heroin. Social environment might be a more critical factor in determining someone’s risk for trying harder drugs.
If someone is more vulnerable to getting involved with addictive substances, they are more likely to start with substances that are more readily available, such as alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana. People who have social interactions with other substance users are more likely to try other drugs.
If your friend uses weed and it does not interfere with work, family life or daily activities, it is likely that your friend does not have an addiction.
How to Tell if Someone Has Been Using Marijuana
Last Updated: February 12, 2020 References
This article was co-authored by Klare Heston, LCSW. Klare Heston is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in Ohio. She received her Master of Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1983.
There are 15 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.
This article has been viewed 55,891 times.
Marijuana (also known as cannabis, pot, or weed) is a plant-based drug that can be inhaled as smoke or consumed in an edible form.  X Trustworthy Source National Institute on Drug Abuse Agency in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services devoted to researching drug and drug abuse and educating the public Go to source Marijuana affects different people in different ways, so the signs and symptoms of marijuana use may vary from one person to another. If you are concerned that a friend or family member might be using marijuana, look for the most common physical and mental symptoms, such as bloodshot eyes and decreased reaction time. You might also notice other signs, such as characteristic smells, or changes in the person’s behavior and interests. If you see evidence of marijuana use, try communicating with the person about your concerns.
About This Article
You might be concerned if you think someone you know has been using marijuana, but once you know for sure, you’ll be able to talk to them about it. Signs of using marijuana can vary from person to person, but the most obvious sign is having bloodshot eyes. Someone who has used marijuana may also have a slow reaction time, so check to see how quickly they respond when you talk to them. If they have trouble concentrating or remembering things, they could be high. Someone who has used marijuana may also seem extra anxious or extra relaxed. Besides physical signs, the person may smell musty or like a skunk. Keep in mind that these things don’t necessarily mean the person’s using marijuana. They could just be tired or upset. If you do think the person is using marijuana, don’t be afraid to talk to them about your concerns. Just wait for a time when they’re sober so you can have a productive and relaxed conversation. To learn more about how to talk to someone about their marijuana use, read on!
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Marijuana (also known as cannabis, pot, or weed) is a plant-based drug that can be inhaled as smoke or consumed in an edible form.https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/what-marijuana Marijuana affects different…