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Is Weed Addictive?

Mary Ekundayo

by Mary Ekundayo

June 27, 2024 08:00 am ET Estimated Read Time: 8 Minutes
Fact checked by Emily Mullins
Is Weed Addictive?

Asking the question “Is weed addictive?” would probably not have been a topic worth discussing a few years ago. However, the gradual increase in medical and recreational use as well as the legalization of marijuana in the USA now makes it a legitimate concern, and this is rightly so.

Many people smoke weed their entire adult lives without ever becoming addicted, but others may not be so lucky. Watching out for warning signs and signals can help prevent a more serious disorder from developing.

Is Marijuana Addictive?

Can you get addicted to weed? Without mincing words, the answer is a clear yes. Marijuana can become addictive depending on many factors, which include an early age of first use, high frequency of use, or existing mental health issues.

A lot of research has concluded that about 9 to 10 out of every 100 people who use marijuana will develop some form of marijuana use disorder. Further studies show that people who started using marijuana in their teenage years have an increased risk of up to about 17%.

Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD)

The word addiction is not a clinical diagnosis in recognized clinical manuals concerning the use of marijuana. An example is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), popular among mental health professionals. 

Cannabis use disorder is a much more appropriate term. But so you don’t get things confused, we’ll indulge the use of the word “addiction” as a standing synonym.

Someone with marijuana addiction may show various symptoms which may be cognitive, behavioral, or physiological. This could be in the form of difficulty controlling use and problems in social relationships. 

Treatment and Efficacy

The treatment of cannabis use disorder, as with any substance use disorder, involves a form of individualized care and a multidisciplinary approach. As a user or a concerned person, getting help as soon as possible from medical marijuana doctors near you plays a major role in the outcome of this condition.

Management involves a detailed use history and important biological, psychological, and social investigations. The interventions follow a similar model involving social workers, occupational therapists, psychiatrists, and clinical psychologists.

Signs of Marijuana Addiction

Marijuana use disorder has a pattern of behavior that is rather striking and hard to miss. If you or a loved one is battling with any of the following symptoms, it may be worth looking into treatment. 

Difficult Consumption Control

This may be seen in terms of the initiation, the amount used, or the termination of use. The person may try not to take weed for that day and find themselves breaking that promise before the end of the day. 


This is an uncontrollable desire for marijuana use, and it could be provoked or unprovoked. If provoked, the person may have perceived a whiff of marijuana in the air and instantly felt a strong urge to use it. It may be unprovoked as this urge can start for the oddest and most unexpected reasons. This craving has a direct link to the effect of marijuana on the reward centers of the brain. Interestingly enough, however, cannabis reduces nicotine cravings.

Impairment of Social Functioning

Someone experiencing cannabis use disorder may neglect all other sources of pleasure, including their hobbies, family, and sexual relationships. They no longer feel pleasure from these sources. They may start making mistakes at work or having troubles in their relationships with people, leading to withdrawal from family and friends, as well as hobbies, to focus on marijuana use.

Risky Use

This is the continued use of marijuana despite harm to oneself or knowledge of harm to oneself. It could also mean the individual uses marijuana in unsafe places or situations. 


The quantity and dose of marijuana you smoke over a certain period determine how fast you build your tolerance. People with a high tolerance may have to use larger amounts or stronger strains to feel the same effects. 


This is a group of symptoms that occur when the amount of marijuana in the blood decreases. There may be an increased tendency to get angry due to little to no provocations or an undue fear for no specific reason. 

There could also be an unexplainable, persistent sadness or poor sleep in others. Some people avoid these symptoms by using marijuana regularly. This may worsen the case gradually, unlike effective coping strategies for cannabis withdrawal symptoms.

The Impact of Weed Addiction

Although cannabis use disorders are not as physically severe as addictions to certain other substances, such as heroin, there are still several ways that weed abuse can negatively affect someone’s life.

Social, Educational, and Professional Consequences

One common indicator of a substance issue is a decline in the quality of personal and professional relationships. Difficulties in academics may also be prominent. If the disorder goes on long enough without treatment, it may have long-term implications for someone’s career. 

Why You Should Get Your Medical Marijuana Card

Veriheal has satisfied millions of patients nationwide by giving them access to these benefits

  • Larger purchase limits
  • Peace of mind
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Physical Health Implications

People struggling with weed addiction run the risk of developing lung cancer or other health complications. Fortunately, this is fairly rare, but it’s a possibility for small percentages of people. The loss of social inhibition also increases the possibility of risky sexual behaviors, which makes them more vulnerable to STIs.

Mental Health Considerations

Studies have strongly linked cannabis use to the development of schizophrenia as it increases the likelihood of its occurrence by about tenfold. It could also directly cause some form of drug-induced psychosis. Fortunately, many people never experience these issues, but the risks rise when cannabis is abused over a long period of time. 

Navigating Cannabis Use Disorder

If you or someone you love are facing cannabis addiction, don’t despair. There are many effective treatments, therapies, and preventative measures available to help you navigate and recover from addiction successfully.

Avoiding CUD

To avoid CUD, the best approach is harm reduction. This helps cannabis users to employ safer means of use. Harm reduction tips include; 

  • Start small 
  • Stick to just cannabis. Do not mix it with synthetic forms of weed or alcohol
  • Source from medical marijuana dispensaries near you to avoid using tainted products.
  • Assess your use at regular intervals to notice changes.

Marijuana as a Gateway Drug

Gateway drugs are drugs that expose someone to experimenting with more dangerous substances. While the idea of cannabis as a gateway drug is largely attributed to anti-weed stigma, small percentages of people may still face this problem, particularly if they are economically disadvantaged. 

Secondhand Exposure

This occurs when you breathe in air mixed with marijuana smoke breathed out by smokers. The most common effects include airway irritation, infections of the respiratory system, or general discomfort.

Special Considerations

Like with any medication, it’s important to be aware of any potential long-term health risks or side effects associated with cannabis.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Concerns

Using cannabis during pregnancy may result in stillbirths, low birth weight, or preterm birth. The mother could develop hypertension. While there’s a lack of long-term studies on the effect of cannabis on infants breastfed by marijuana smokers, it’s been suggested that it may delay certain developmental milestones.

Long-Term Brain Effects

The active ingredient in cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Its chronic effect on the brain may result in decreased motivation, and difficulty with learning due to increased loss of the neurons of the hippocampus. However, it is important to note that there are no conclusive studies yet.

Marijuana in Medicine

Marijuana is correctly recognized to be clinically effective in the management of intractable nausea and vomiting, severe treatment-resistant epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis. Studies have even shown that cannabinoids reduce nicotine cravings

While cannabis has dozens of potential health and wellness-related effects, it’s important to remember that it will affect everyone differently.


Weed can be addictive and may lead to dependence or significant life disruptions for some people. This understanding should help encourage responsible use. Whether you’re a cannabis user, a concerned friend, or a family member, staying informed is vital to approach the complexities of marijuana in today’s society. 

At Veriheal, we remain committed to patient education and access to medical cannabis for diverse health needs. Visit us today to book an appointment for further guidance on integrating marijuana into your life in a healthy, sustainable way. 

FAQs on Weed Addiction

How addictive is weed?

Weed has varying levels of psychological addiction. The determining factors of the severity of the addiction include frequency and route of use.

Why is weed addictive?

Weed is addictive because of its effect on the reward centers of the brain and the release of dopamine. 

Is weed more addictive than coffee?

The active ingredient in coffee is caffeine. Caffeine has a minimal addiction potential compared to weed, although it can still create some level of physical dependence or lead to withdrawal symptoms after suddenly stopping daily use. 

What can I use instead of weed to relax?

There are lots of relaxation alternatives, including practicing mindfulness, meditation, and breathing exercises. Drinking herbal teas, warm baths, and aromatherapy may also be helpful.

How long does it take for the brain to recover from weed?

This answer varies. It could be as early as 72 hours or as late as a month, so you need to be patient with yourself during this period.

How long does it take for cannabinoid receptors to return to normal?

This changes from person to person, but it takes about six weeks on average. 

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