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.
Signs and Symptoms of Marijuana Use
Worldwide, cannabis–also known as weed and marijuana–throws an enormous net that traps more than a hundred million people every year. In the US, it’s about 4.5 million people, and more than 860,000 of these Americans are students in middle school or high school. It is essential to be able to tell when you might lose a family member to addiction to weed.
Weed either can be a long-term habit, or it can lead to the abuse of stronger drugs, depending on the societal pattern in the location it’s being abused. One thing is certain: Despite all the media and articles and proponents for legalization, weed is addictive and creates an impaired condition that can be dangerous. Since weed is abused by so many young people, millions of parents struggle to clearly identify drug problems or addiction in their children. It’s important to be able to detect signs of weed use when they are present.
Marijuana Health Risks:
- Is Marijuana Addictive?
- Your Kids and Weed
- Increased Potency
- Effects on the Brain
Identifying Marijuana or Weed Consumption
Marijuana or weed can be consumed as a shredded, dry leafy product or as marijuana oil and resin. These last two are sold under the names “hash” or “hashish.” Hash may be found in flat cakes. Hash oil will be amber or brown and may be sold in small glass bottles. When you’re looking for signs of weed use, you would be looking for small bags of brownish-green leaves that look like herbs, small chunks of a powdery brown substance or very small bottles of brown liquid.
Signs of Marijuana Use
- Bloodshot eyes
- Fast heart rate
- Sleepy, lethargic
- Lack of coordination
- Increase cravings for snacks
Change in Actions:
- Confusion and lack of focus
- Unusually talkative
- Dropping studies or usual activities
- Misjudging time
- Shredded leafy debris
- Cigarette rolling papers
- Very small bottles of oil
- Small metal clips
Other signs of weed use are paraphernalia left in a person’s room or vehicle. Small pipes, larger complicated water pipes referred to as “bongs,” and cigarette rolling papers or small ends of smoked hand-rolled cigarettes constitute signs of weed use. In states that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana use (or nearby states), there may be “edibles” in the form of:
- Candy bars,
- Hard candies
If the item is still in the original packaging, it must identify the dosage of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the primary intoxicating ingredient) expected to exist in that edible item.
Immediate Signs of Weed Use
The most immediate signs of smoking weed are dilation of the blood vessels in the eyes (making them bloodshot), increased heart rate, increased appetite and memory impairment, along with difficulty paying attention or solving problems. But the real reason people abuse the drug is for the euphoria that may last three to six hours.
When monitoring for symptoms of weed use, there may be reactions of anxiety, fear or panic, especially if they are new to the drug or taking it in an unsettling location. Hallucinations, paranoia and delusional behavior can be symptoms of weed use that is very potent, or consumption of a large amount.
More Risks & Effects of Cannabis Abuse
- Specific Signs
- Effects of Weed
- Effects on the Mind
- Ability to Drive When Abusing
Helping Someone Overcome Addiction to Weed
Feeling that one’s life is just passing one by is a typical symptom of weed use. One person who spent a decade smoking dope said that it was like ten years of his life was just missing. At Narconon recovery centers, the brightness and joy of really living can be recovered after symptoms of weed use have demonstrated abuse or addiction to the drug.
For students in particular, being addicted to weed can be destructive. Weed impairs one’s ability to think, learn and solve problems. To accomplish a good education, one must be bright and perceptive. With a thorough sauna-based detoxification action that restores the brightness and quickness of thinking, plus boosted communication skills and life skills, a person can again create a productive, enjoyable life.
Find out how the holistic, alternative Narconon drug recovery program can help someone you care about who is addicted to weed or any other drug. Call
Here are some signs and symptoms of marijuana use and what you can do to help someone abusing marijuana. Call a Narconon marijuana rehab counselor today.