Is Marijuana Addictive?

Jump to a section
Table of contents
Expand list

Is Marijuana addictive?

Yes, marijuana can be addictive. Marijuana use may lead to dependence or even addiction to the drug, known as MUD (Marijuana Use Disorder) or CUD (Cannabis Use Disorder).

Dependency on marijuana usually refers to physical dependence, where one may experience withdrawal symptoms when abstaining from the drug. Weed withdrawal symptoms include: 

  • Irritability 
  • Mood and sleep difficulties 
  • Decreased appetite
  • Cravings
  • Restlessness

Various forms of physical discomfort peak within the first week after quitting marijuana and last up to 2 weeks. Many individuals also report experiencing brain fog after quitting weed.

Addiction commonly follows dependence, leading to shifts in one’s behavior caused by biochemical changes in the brain. Additionally, individuals addicted to marijuana are unable to refrain from taking the drug despite its negative effects.

Back to top

What Makes Marijuana Addictive?

Marijuana, which is comprised of cannabis, contains Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Is THC addictive? A terpenoid found in cannabis, THC is the main psychoactive ingredient and causes people to feel ‘high.’ The THC binds with the receptors in the brain and nervous system, particularly the part that controls pain and moods, causing a euphoric feeling. Addicts crave the ‘high’ feeling, causing them to continue to use marijuana even as it interferes and disrupts their daily lives.

 Is Marijuana addictive? Avenues Recovery explores this topic

Back to top

Why is Marijuana Addictive?

Those who misuse marijuana constantly become physically addicted to it as the body adjusts and starts to need it to function normally. Marijuana changes the circuits in the brain, leaving one less sensitive to the chemicals and craving more.

Can You Get Addicted to Weed?

Studies show about 1 in 10 adults who use weed are at risk for developing an addiction. Additionally, around 30% of users may suffer from some degree of MUD. People who begin using marijuana before the age of 18 are four to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana addiction than adults.

Approximately 3 in 10 people who use marijuana have marijuana use disorder. And for those under 18, the risks are even higher. Is weed addictive? Yes, weed can be addictive. Unfortunately, research shows that marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the US and cannabis addiction is widespread.

Back to top

What Factors Contribute to Developing MUD?

Multiple factors lead to the development of a MUD, including:

  1. Age -  youth who use marijuana are far more likely to develop an addiction.
  2. Other substance abuse, especially alcohol.
  3. Mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, mood disorder, etc.
  4. Environment
  5. Where and how often an individual uses marijuana. 
  6. Frequent marijuana use by oneself
  7. Genetics

Back to top

What Are the Effects of Marijuana Legalization in the US?

Marijuana was legalized in the US in June 2014 for medicinal purposes. Studies showed that cannabis assists with the following:

  • Chronic pain
  • Chemotherapy side-effects
  • Muscle spasms (such as Multiple Sclerosis)
  • Seizures
  • Eating disorders

Since then, multiple states also legalized marijuana for recreational use.

But cannabis is highly addictive and the effect of legalizing marijuana is that marijuana use and dependence have increased in adults 21 years of age or older. Youth aged 12 to 20 years old are more likely to try marijuana for the first time. Additionally, it is difficult to determine medically who suffers from chronic pain, encouraging recreational marijuana users to obtain medical marijuana by posing as chronic pain sufferers.

 Is Marijuana addictive? Avenues Recovery points to the effects of it's legalization

California legalized medical marijuana in 1996 and then later legalized it for recreational use, hoping this would weaken and even end the black market of marijuana abuse. Instead, marijuana decreased in price on the black market, opening the door for more people to access it.

The National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys notes that  states that legalized marijuana for medical use see: 

  • Increased violence to, and burglaries of, marijuana dispensaries
  • Increased offenses involving driving under the influence (DUI) of marijuana
  • Increased sales of marijuana to underage children
  • Increased sales of marijuana to customers who are not suffering from a serious medical condition

Back to top

Is Marijuana Physically Addictive?

Yes, marijuana is physically addictive. With time, the body develops ‘tolerance’ to the drug, meaning that the user must increase the dose of marijuana to achieve the same effect. The more one develops tolerance, the higher the dosage must be to feel the euphoric ‘high’ feeling. These factors prove that cannabis is physically addictive.

Studies show that constant misuse of marijuana in adolescents leads to a loss of IQ points by mid-adulthood. Furthermore, when abstaining from marijuana, people often experience withdrawal syndrome (common symptoms detailed above).

Can You Get Addicted to Edibles?

Despite their reputation as a safer alternative to inhaling or smoking cannabis, edibles can be addictive. Available in a variety of forms, such as brownies, gummies, chocolates, and infused beverages, weed edibles usually contain a higher percentage of THC.

Weed edibles also pose a higher danger of overdose. After consuming edibles, it can take hours to experience the euphoric high that someone smoking marijuana feels in just minutes. The delayed effect leads some users to increase their consumption, often landing them in the emergency room with overdose symptoms.

 Is Marijuana addictive? Avenues Recovery reveals that even weed edibles pose dangers

Back to top

How to Cure Marijuana Use Disorder

Understanding that marijuana is addictive is the first step to receiving help. Marijuana Use Disorder does not go away on its own. If you or your loved one is addicted to marijuana, it is important to recognize that outside assistance is needed. It takes determination and a professional addiction treatment program to heal from this disease. Avenues Recovery is a reputable substance abuse rehab that specializes in helping individuals recover from all forms of addictions, including marijuana. We will help you or your loved one during drug detox treatment, receive the appropriate therapies, and obtain support from those who truly understand what is needed to heal. Contact Avenues today to begin your journey to sobriety.

Learn to recognize the signs that someone is high on marijuana from our online resource.

Check your insurance

We received your insurance request!

We will get back to you shortly. While you wait... you may find our resource blog helpful. Take a look below: