Signs & Symptoms of Marijuana Abuse

Bayside Marin is a premier rehabilitation center dedicated to the treatment of marijuana abuse in California. Bayside Marin blends evidence-based treatments with alternative, holistic modalities to comprehensively treat all aspects of our client’s life.

Understanding Marijuana

Learn about marijuana and substance abuse

Marijuana, also referred to as pot or weed, is one of the most prominently abused substances in society today. With an active ingredient of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), marijuana works by entering an individual’s bloodstream, passing to vital organs, and attaching itself onto receptors in the brain. Once this attachment occurs, alterations take place in a person’s brain chemistry, eliciting feelings of relaxation and a sense of being somewhat detached from one’s surroundings. These pleasurable feelings are what appeal to users of marijuana and are what prohibit many from breaking free from the compulsion to continue using this substance.

Sadly, marijuana has become widely known as a “gateway” drug because, according to the American Psychiatric Association, people who frequently use marijuana have a greater lifetime probability of eventually using drugs that have been deemed as more dangerous than are individuals who do not abuse marijuana. Drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine, opioids, and heroin have all been documented as eventually being abused by individuals who started out by using marijuana. Additionally, marijuana users also frequently report abusing alcohol on a consistent basis as well.

Once the habit of abusing marijuana has become a factor in an individual’s life, it can be difficult for him or her to put an end to that cycle of abuse without professional intervention. Fortunately, there are viable marijuana abuse treatment options available that can help individuals return to a life of sobriety.


Marijuana abuse statistics

In the United States, marijuana is said to be the most commonly abused of all recreational drugs. After reviewing the results of surveys that were distributed throughout the United States, researchers learned that approximately 69 million individuals throughout the U.S. have used marijuana at least once in their lifetime. Additionally, an astounding 10 million people admitted to having used the substance in the month immediately prior to taking the survey. Furthermore, estimates have been offered suggesting that nearly 6,000 Americans try pot for the first time every single day.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for marijuana abuse

The causes and risk factors that can explain why some individuals develop a problem with abusing marijuana while others do not lie in a number of different facets. Consider the following:

Genetic: Research has shown that there is a strong genetic component to the development of substance abuse and addiction as addiction has long been known to run in families. Therefore, if an individual has biological family members who battle chemical dependency concerns, he or she is at a heightened risk for struggling with similar concerns at some point in his or her life as well.

Environmental: There are a variety of environmental factors that can impact a person’s susceptibility to beginning to abuse marijuana. For example, individuals who are exposed to drug use, including the use of marijuana, are more likely to experience the desire to try the drug than are those who do not have similar exposures. Additionally, there are many individuals who turn to the use of marijuana as a means of unknowingly self-medicating from distressing symptoms they experience as the result of suffering from a mental health condition or due to being the victim of abuse, neglect, or experiencing a trauma.

Risk Factors:

  • Family history of substance abuse and addiction
  • Possessing a preexisting mental health condition
  • Family history of mental illness
  • Peer pressure
  • Exposure to the use of marijuana or other substances
  • Ease of access to marijuana
  • Lacking healthy coping skills
  • Being the victim of abuse or neglect

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of marijuana abuse

There are a number of symptoms that may be displayed by someone who is struggling with a marijuana abuse problem. The symptoms themselves, however, will vary from person to person depending on a number of different factors. The following are examples of various behavioral, physical, cognitive, and psychosocial symptoms that may be exhibited by someone who is abusing marijuana:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Possessing drug paraphernalia
  • Binge-eating behaviors
  • Decreased inhibition / increased participation in reckless behaviors
  • Procrastination / reduced motivation
  • Engaging in periods of seemingly uncontrolled laughter
  • Lying
  • Stealing
  • No longer performing at the expected level occupationally
  • No longer participating in activities that were once enjoyed
  • Change in peer groups or withdrawing socially
  • Sudden conflict amongst relationships

Physical symptoms:

  • Disheveled appearance
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Persistent coughing
  • Increased fatigue / drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Bloodshot eyes / glassy eyes

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Concentration difficulties
  • Impaired learning capabilities
  • Cognitive damage
  • Memory impairment
  • Impaired decision-making capabilities
  • Impaired coordination
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Disorganized thought processes
  • Experiencing altered states of perception

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Episodes of depression
  • Heightened levels of anxiety
  • Excessive irritability
  • Agitation
  • Sudden, unwarranted feelings of fear and/or panic
  • Declined interest in things that were once enjoyed
  • Deterioration of one’s overall emotional wellbeing


Effects of marijuana abuse

The chronic abuse of marijuana can leave users vulnerable to experiencing a number of detrimental effects; effects that can negatively impact all areas of their lives. Examples of such effects may include the following:

  • Decline in occupational performance, resulting in job loss
  • Relationship disturbances
  • Interaction with the legal system
  • Familial discord / divorce
  • Weakened immune system
  • Infections of the upper respiratory system
  • Lung infections
  • Lung damage
  • Development of certain types of cancer
  • Tachycardia
  • Reduced intellectual functioning
  • Hindered learning capabilities
  • Irreversible cognitive impairment
  • Heightened risk for experiencing the onset of symptoms of depression and/or anxiety
  • Beginning and subsequently developing an addiction to other substances

Co-Occurring Disorders

Marijuana abuse and co-occurring disorders

There are many cases in which individuals who abuse marijuana are suffering from co-occurring mental health conditions. In some instances, individuals will begin to use marijuana as an attempt to unknowingly self-medicate the distressing symptoms that they experience as a result of suffering from a mental illness, while, in other circumstances, the prolonged abuse of this drug can actually elicit the onset of mental health concerns. Examples of disorders that have been cited by the American Psychiatric Association as co-occurring alongside cannabis use disorder include:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depressive disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder
  • Paranoid personality disorder
  • Additional substance use disorders

Withdrawal & Overdose

Effects of marijuana withdrawal and overdose

When a habit of abusing marijuana has become prevalent in an individual’s life and then he or she suddenly ceases use of the substance, there is a risk that a period of withdrawal will ensue. Examples of possible marijuana withdrawal symptoms that may arise can include:

  • Powerful cravings for the drug
  • Depressed mood
  • Increased feelings of agitation
  • Increased feelings of irritability
  • Excessive, unprovoked feelings of anger
  • Onset of insomnia or other types of sleep disturbances
  • Feelings of dizziness and shakiness
  • Impotence
  • Inability to focus

I was nurtured by the care and love of the staff at Bayside and I was able to stop abusing marijuana.

– Anonymous Client
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