Addiction Drug Use Marijuana Recognize the Symptoms of Marijuana Addiction By Elizabeth Hartney, BSc, MSc, MA, PhD Elizabeth Hartney, BSc, MSc, MA, PhD Elizabeth Hartney, BSc, MSc, MA, PhD is a psychologist, professor, and Director of the Centre for Health Leadership and Research at Royal Roads University, Canada. Learn about our editorial process Updated on August 02, 2021 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE Medically reviewed by John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE is board-certified in addiction medicine and preventative medicine. He is the medical director at Alcohol Recovery Medicine. For over 20 years Dr. Umhau was a senior clinical investigator at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Marijuana use can be addictive. Jamie Grill/Getty Images Marijuana (cannabis) addiction is a pattern of marijuana use characterized by many of the typical signs and symptoms of any substance addiction. The technical name for this condition is "cannabis use disorder" and it is included in the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition" (DSM-5). You might hear it called cannabis or marijuana dependence, cannabis or marijuana abuse, or cannabis or marijuana misuse. These terms have fallen out of favor, even in the medical profession. However, it is taking time for people to catch up, even for some who have been working in the field for a long time. People who use marijuana often think addiction is not possible. But it is important to be aware that you can become addicted to marijuana. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) notes that 30% of people who use marijuana will develop marijuana use disorder. How Long Can Marijuana Stay in Your System? Symptoms According to the DSM-5, the presence of at least two of the following symptoms, occurring within a period of 12 months, indicates you may be using marijuana in a way that might cause problems: Continuing to use even when it's causing social or relationship problems, and/or even when you've developed a physical or psychological problem related to using it Craving (strongly desiring to use) marijuana Developing a tolerance for marijuana (needing more and more of it to achieve the same effects) Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you "run out" of or don't have access to marijuana Giving up or doing less of activities you used to enjoy because you'd rather use marijuana Using it in larger amounts and over a longer period than you intended Using it in situations that could be hazardous or even dangerous Using the drug so often, or getting so intoxicated by it, that you can't get important things done Spending a lot of time seeking and using the drug and recovering from its effects Thinking a lot about cutting back or stopping your marijuana use, without success Some of the common signs of a problem with marijuana addiction include losing interest in things you used to enjoy, damaged relationships, and being unable to stop using the substance. If you begin to note some or many of these symptoms, it may be a sign that you have a problem. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area. For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database. Risks of Marijuana Addiction One of the primary risks associated with marijuana addiction in young people is the potential for permanent brain damage. In addition to the risk of addiction, adverse health effects of marijuana use can include both short- and long-term effects on areas of the brain responsible for attention, learning, decision-making, emotions, coordination, and memory. Marijuana also poses risks to brain development in young people. Because the brain is in an active state of development from the prenatal period until the early 20s, it is much more vulnerable to the adverse impacts of different environmental influences, including exposure to marijuana. The age of onset of use is a critical factor Early use may have more detrimental neurotoxic effects on the developing brain of adolescents compared to those on the adult brain. While there is a need for further research, data suggests that vocabulary and information measures of crystallized intelligence—which measure knowledge acquired through experience or learning—are lower in young people who use marijuana. Steps to Recovery The first step to recovery is often taking a serious look at how your marijuana use is affecting your life, work, and relationships. How closely does your life fit with the addiction symptoms listed above? If you feel like you might have a problem, it means that you are already past the denial stage, where many people "get stuck" and are unable to take back control of their lives. If you think you've crossed from casual or recreational marijuana use to marijuana addiction, seek help as soon as possible. This is particularly important if you've experienced certain negative effects of marijuana, particularly: Changes in your self-image and/or the way you think about yourself or other people, especially if you start thinking that others are watching you, following you, or plotting against youExtreme changes in mood, outlook, and/or the way you interpret things going on around you Although these effects can be temporary, marijuana use has been linked to a very serious type of mental health problem called psychosis. Psychosis is treatable, but it is important to seek help as soon as possible. Younger people in their teens and early twenties are particularly vulnerable to developing psychosis after using drugs, including marijuana. How Can You Get Help for Marijuana Addiction? A Word From Verywell Despite what you may have heard, marijuana is not always a harmless drug. In addition to potentially keeping you from fully experiencing your life, it can be addictive and can trigger mental illness as well as permanent brain damage. Getting help for marijuana addiction right away increases the likelihood that treatment will be effective and permanent. Talk to your doctor or contact a mental health professional to learn more about treatment options. 9 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th edition. Washington, DC; 2013. Hser Y-I, Mooney LJ, Huang D, et al. Reductions in cannabis use are associated with improvements in anxiety, depression, and sleep quality, but not quality of life. J Subst Abuse Treat. 2017;81:53-58. doi:10.1016/j.jsat.2017.07.012 Hasin DS, O'Brien CP, Auriacombe M, et al. DSM-5 criteria for substance use disorders: Recommendations and rationale. Am J Psychiatry. 2013;170(8):834-851. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2013.12060782 Filbey FM, Aslan S, Calhoun VD, Spence JS, Damaraju E, Caprihan A, Segall J. Long-term effects of marijuana use on the brain. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014;111(47):16913-8. doi:10.1073/pnas.1415297111 Volkow ND, Baler RD, Compton WM, Weiss SR. Adverse health effects of marijuana use. N Engl J Med. 2014;370(23):2219-2227. doi:10.1056/NEJMra1402309 Castellanos-Ryan N, Pingault JB, Parent S, Vitaro F, Tremblay RE, Séguin JR. Adolescent cannabis use, change in neurocognitive function, and high-school graduation: A longitudinal study from early adolescence to young adulthood. Dev Psychopathol. 2017;29(4):1253-1266. doi:10.1017/S0954579416001280 Jackson NJ, Isen JD, Khoddam R, Irons D, Tuvblad C, Iacono WG, McGue M, Raine A, Baker LA. Impact of adolescent marijuana use on intelligence: Results from two longitudinal twin studies. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016;113(5):E500-8. doi:10.1073/pnas.1516648113 Haney M, Evins AE. Does cannabis cause, exacerbate or ameliorate psychiatric disorders? An oversimplified debate discussed. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2016;41(2):393-401. doi:10.1038/npp.2015.251 Hamilton I, Monaghan M. Cannabis and psychosis: Are we any closer to understanding the relationship?. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2019;21(7):48. doi:10.1007/s11920-019-1044-x By Elizabeth Hartney, BSc, MSc, MA, PhD Elizabeth Hartney, BSc, MSc, MA, PhD is a psychologist, professor, and Director of the Centre for Health Leadership and Research at Royal Roads University, Canada. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Get Treatment for Addiction Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.