Marijuana Addiction: Symptoms, Signs and Side Effects

Last Updated: September 22, 2023

Marijuana is a drug derived from the cannabis plant. The primary mind-altering chemical in marijuana is called THC. When someone uses marijuana, the substance activates the cannabinoid receptors in the brain.

Cannabis has many effects, including a release of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter responsible for creating pleasurable feelings, which is why some people feel euphoria when they use marijuana.

Symptoms of Marijuana Abuse

When someone uses marijuana, the THC moves quickly from the lungs to their bloodstream and then to their brain. When someone is high on marijuana, they might experience:

  • A change in their senses
  • Altered perception of time
  • Changes in mood
  • Problems with thinking and problem-solving
  • Memory impairment
  • Impairment of body movement

At high doses, marijuana can cause severe side effects. For example, hallucinations, delusions and psychosis are all possible when someone uses high doses of marijuana or a potent strand. Some of the outward signs that a person might be abusing marijuana include:

  • Bloodshot, red eyes
  • Overeating or eating at strange times
  • Withdrawing from friends, family or other relationships
  • Problems at school or work
  • Spending time with people who also use marijuana

While marijuana side effects don’t necessarily mean someone is addicted, research indicates it is possible to become addicted to marijuana. who use marijuana could have problematic relationships with it according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The more someone uses marijuana, the more likely they are to experience the drug’s adverse side effects.

Side Effects of Marijuana

Behavioral signs of marijuana use exist. These indicators might suggest that someone is abusing the drug. These behavioral and lifestyle effects can include:

  • The use of perfumes or deodorizers to get rid of the smell of marijuana
  • The use or possession of eyedrops
  • The possession of paraphernalia that can be associated with marijuana, including plastic bags, lighters, cotton swabs and rubbing alcohol
  • Coughing caused by lung irritation
  • Problems with cognition, social withdrawal and memory
  • Changes in heartbeat and increased risk of a heart attack
  • A worsening of seizure disorders

Side Effects of Long-Term Marijuana Abuse

Along with potentially negative short-term effects of marijuana, long-term risks also exist. Some of the long-term effects of marijuana include:

  • The effects of marijuana on the brain can be seen in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is part of the brain responsible for the regulation of short-term memory. The long-term effects of marijuana can include problems developing memories and learning new things.
  • Marijuana affects areas of the brain responsible for controlling and regulating pleasure and reward. on people who smoke copious amounts of marijuana, and they were then found to have a lower level of dopamine released into their brain. One such study was first published in Molecular Psychiatry.
  • Marijuana smoke has harmful chemicals. Some of the marijuana effects on the body involve the lungs and respiratory system. For example, long-term marijuana use might lead to damage in the lungs and bronchial passages.
  • Some research has found the use of marijuana in adolescence can cause harmful effects on the brain. For example, regular adolescent marijuana use is related to reduce brain volume in specific regions of the brain. These regions are involved with memory, learning and impulse control.
  • A study looking at the effects of marijuana using twins showed that when marijuana was used, it was linked to a decline in knowledge and verbal ability. The research was part of the National Institute on Drug Abuses’ Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) longitudinal study.

Addiction and dependence are also characterized as possible longer-term marijuana effects. Some of the signs of marijuana addiction include:

  • Someone with a marijuana abuse problem may put a lot of focus on making sure they always have a supply.
  • A marijuana use disorder can lead to risky behaviors either while on marijuana or to get more of it.
  • People dependent on or addicted to marijuana might become withdrawn and seem secretive.
  • It’s not uncommon for people who are abusing or addicted to marijuana to become defensive or angry if someone confronts them about their use.

Signs of a Marijuana Overdose

An overlooked effect of marijuana is an overdose. A marijuana overdose is rarer than an overdose with other types of drugs, but it is possible. Some marijuana overdose symptoms are psychological. People who use large amounts of marijuana or who use potent dosages may experience symptoms that mimic a psychotic disorder. This acute psychosis might include a temporary loss of the sense of personal identity, hallucinations and delusions.

Other signs of a marijuana overdose can include a rapid heart rate, which increases the risk of a heart attack and mental confusion. Extreme paranoia may also occur.

Lacing marijuana with other substances can create life-threatening risks. Someone who uses marijuana with other drugs may not know about any other substances in the batch. As a result, that person may experience adverse effects or an overdose.

If you experience marijuana addiction symptoms, there are resources available. Contact Orlando Recovery Center to learn more about marijuana addiction and treatment.

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