Is marijuana mentally addictive

5 Signs of Marijuana (Weed) Addiction

Buddy T is a writer and founding member of the Online Al-Anon Outreach Committee with decades of experience writing about alcoholism. Because he is a member of a support group that stresses the importance of anonymity at the public level, he does not use his photograph or his real name on this website.

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Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.

A close-up of the hands of an unrecognizable woman pouring cannabis buds from a jar into her hand

An addiction to marijuana (weed) is not common, but it is possible. Approximately 1 in 10 people who use marijuana will develop cannabis use disorder.

Some of the signs of marijuana addiction include:

  1. Strong cravings
  2. A loss of interest in other activities
  3. Withdrawal symptoms
  4. Increased tolerance for marijuana
  5. Continued marijuana use despite negative consequences

Signs of Marijuana Addiction

Marijuana is one of the most widely used drugs in the United States, but it can have serious health consequences as well as other negative effects on a person’s life. There are some signs to watch out for that suggest a person might be addicted to weed.

Strong Cravings

One of the major signs of cannabis use disorder, according to the DSM, is a strong craving to use marijuana. A person’s urges might be so strong, for example, that they would sacrifice other commitments such as work or school in order to acquire and use marijuana.

Loss of Interest in Activities

Someone who is addicted to marijuana will prioritize their drug use over other aspects of their life. They will likely cut back on activities that previously brought them joy or withdraw from them altogether.

A person with marijuana addiction may struggle to maintain healthy relationships with their friends and family if they withdraw from socializing in order to use the drug.

In addition, marijuana dependence has been linked with a lack of motivation. Someone who is addicted may lack the drive to engage in activities, pursue goals, or keep up with responsibilities, including school and work.

Withdrawal Symptoms

If someone 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:

Increased Tolerance

According to the DSM, tolerance to a drug happens when, over time, a person isn’t able to achieve the desired effects or “high” by using the same amount of the drug. They will need a larger amount of the drug to achieve these effects.

A sign of marijuana addiction is increased tolerance. In other words, the more someone uses weed, the more they will need to use as their body becomes desensitized to it.

Continued Use Despite Negative Consequences

Someone with a weed addiction may realize that their drug use is affecting them physically, mentally, and emotionally. Studies have found that some of these consequences include:

  • Impaired memory
  • Impaired motor skills (increased risk of injury)
  • Paranoia
  • Higher risk of psychosis
  • Cognitive impairment (lower IQ)
  • Dropping out of school
  • Inability to fulfill work commitments
  • Financial instability

Despite the negative influence their addiction has on their life, however, someone with cannabis use disorder will continue to use marijuana.

Marijuana Addiction Risk Factors

Risk factors that make young adults more likely to develop an addiction to marijuana include:

  • Assigned male at birth
  • Using other substances like alcohol or tobacco
  • Dysfunctional parent-child relationships
  • Having friends who use marijuana
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Thrill-seeking or impulsive behavior
  • Mental health issues

How Marijuana Use Affects the Brain and Body

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), marijuana use can have negative impacts on brain and body function:

  • Loss of IQ points (these cannot be recovered even if someone stops using marijuana)
  • Relationship issues
  • Reduced school success
  • Slower reaction time while driving or playing sports
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Premature birth, stillbirth
  • Suicidal ideation

If you or a loved one are struggling with cannabis use disorder, 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.

A Word From Verywell

While most people do not develop cannabis use disorder, it can happen. So, it’s important to be especially aware of the signs of marijuana addiction. There are resources and treatment options available for those who are dealing with addiction.

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.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Marijuana and Public Health: Addiction.
  2. SAMHSA. Know the risks of marijuana.
  3. Pacheco-Colón I, Limia JM, Gonzalez R. Nonacute effects of cannabis use on motivation and reward sensitivity in humans: A systematic review. Psychol Addict Behav. 2018;32(5):497-507. doi:10.1037/adb0000380
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Is marijuana addictive?
  5. National Institute on Drug Abuse. The science of drug use and addiction: the basics.
  6. Volkow ND, Baler RD, Compton WM, Weiss SR. Adverse health effects of marijuana use. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2014;370(23):2219-2227. doi:10.1056/NEJMra1402309
  7. Brook JS, Lee JY, Finch SJ, Seltzer N, Brook DW. Adult work commitment, financial stability, and social environment as related to trajectories of marijuana use beginning in adolescence. Substance Abuse. 2013;34(3):298-305. doi: 10.1080/08897077.2013.775092
  8. Dugas EN, Sylvestre M-P, Ewusi-Boisvert E, Chaiton M, Montreuil A, O’Loughlin J. Early Risk Factors for Daily Cannabis Use in Young Adults. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. 2019;64(5):329-337.

By Buddy T
Buddy T is a writer and founding member of the Online Al-Anon Outreach Committee with decades of experience writing about alcoholism. Because he is a member of a support group that stresses the importance of anonymity at the public level, he does not use his photograph or his real name on this website.

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