Sign and Symptoms of Marijuana Use, Abuse, & Addiction Facts

What Is Marijuana, and How Is It Ingested or Used?

isolated marijuana user

Pot Can Be Isolating

Marijuana is a drug that consists of dried flowers, seeds and leaves of the Indian hemp plant. Also known as “cannabis,” the term marijuana is typically used to describe any of the different drugs that come from Indian hemp.

 Other Names for Marijuana

Marijuana is a controlled substance known by several street names:

  • Weed
  • Pot
  • Dope
  • Mary Jane
  • Reefer
  • Skunk
  • Kush
  • Shatter
  • Dabs
  • Edibles
  • Concentrates
  • Hash

Marijuana is often named after its plant strain, so there are many names it is known by. It is is typically consumed as a shredded, dry leafy product that is smoked in a pipe, or a rolled cigarette. It has a very distinctive smell. There are other ways to consume marijuana in recent years as more states decriminalize it. Some people “vape” i.e. vaporize the plant or “concentrates” (oils or hard substances like “shatter” that has been created from marijuana plants).

Much of the world primarily consumes marijuana via an extraction of oil and resin from the plant also known as “hash” or “hashish.” “Hash oil” is usually a brown or amber color and is usually sold in small glass bottles.

Due to legalization in several states in the US, more people are making and using “edibles” – foods such as brownies or cookies that are baked with marijuana extracted in butter or oil. This form of marijuana is very potent and poses a danger to children who may mistake it for regular food.

When you’re looking for signs of marijuana use, you should first look for small, pungent bags of green or brown leaves that look like herbs. Hash is usually in small chunks of a powdery brown substance or very small bottles of brown liquid.

What Are the Symptoms Of Marijuana Use? How Does it Affect Users?

When people get “high” on marijuana, their body gives cues of their intoxication, but the clues can be very subtle. People who are high on marijuana may have bloodshot eyes or an increased heart rate. They may seem excessively lethargic as though they were sick (or tired from a hard day of work).

Many people get “munchies” after using marijuana, where they increasingly snack or eat a lot without seeming to be satisfied. They may have a poor reaction time to stimulus or slowed reflexes (making driving more dangerous), and in general may seem “out of it” when you interact with them.

Aside from physical effects, frequent marijuana users also may exhibit the following characteristics:

  • Confusion or forgetfulness, even “in the moment” as they are talking to you
  • Short-term memory loss and difficulty learning
  • Withdrawing from conversation, disordered thinking
  • Loss of interest in studies, goals, or work
  • Misjudging time, forgetting events or appointments
  • Secretiveness, hiding marijuana paraphernalia such as cigarette papers, pipes, etc
  • Use of eyedroppers to hide bloodshot eyes, avoid dry eyes

With almost all drugs, we recommend watching the person carefully for discomfort or being “ill at ease” during periods when you are supervising the person and they cannot take the drug.  Marijuana isn’t as physically addictive as many other drugs, so it can be difficult to identify the withdrawals (also the person may take advantage of the widely available edibles that allow them to stealthily imbibe THC via edible treats).

We think the most likely evidence you will find of marijuana use is the paraphernalia involved. Depending on how the person is ingesting it, there will be some kind of evidence (pipes, ashes, “roaches” (butt of a marijuana joint), lighters, etc).

Signs and Symptoms of Marijuana Dependency/Addiction

Despite all the media attention to marijuana decriminalization, there is a danger of addiction for many marijuana users. Some people who smoke marijuana experience a decreased quality of life. People who go to work under the influence or drive under the influence are actually impaired, creating danger for others on the road. Some marijuana users continue to get high despite legal, personal, or financial consequences of their drug use.

Marijuana is frequently used and abused by minors. If you’re a parent, it’s important to be able to detect signs of marijuana use, and talk to your kids frankly and honestly about the effects drug use.

Like many other drugs, marijuana can be addictive, especially when it’s used over a period of time. Addiction is not just in the user’s head; research suggests it is also physiological. About 9% percent of people who use marijuana will become dependent on it. A loss of interest of interest in favorite activities, a need to get high to feel “normal”, and a fear of running out of marijuana are all telltale signs that a user has become dependent on marijuana. Some users will lose their jobs or damage relationships as the drug takes over more and more of their lives.

What Are the Long-Term Effects and Dangers of Marijuana?

Chronic marijuana use has been linked to poor memory, lung cancer and, at higher dosages, it has been found to correlate to greater incidence of psychosis and schizophrenia. We find the risk of marijuana exacerbating latent psychological issues to be the most serious potential side effect of marijuana abuse.

Like other drugs, marijuana addiction is linked to withdrawal symptoms. Most of them are mild. Although none of these are dangerous, they can be unpleasant for the user when they are trying to quit. Frequent marijuana users often report the following symptoms when they try to quit using:

  • Irritability
  • Mood difficulties
  • Sleeping trouble, especially insomnia
  • Decreased appetite
  • Craving the drug
  • Restlessness or anxiety

The physical discomfort of quitting marijuana will usually peak within the first week after quitting. It’s possible that the effects will last longer, and studies suggest that some people experience a late term withdrawal called “post acute withdrawal” from marijuana.

How Does Marijuana Change a User’s Brain?

There have been several studies that examined the ways in which marijuana inhibits short-term memory formation. Most point to disrupted activity in the hippocampus — the brain area thought to control working memory. Because the hippocampus contains so many cannabinoid receptors, it is rapidly weakened during marijuana use. A 2013 study from Northwestern University found that heavy users who start smoking in their teens might experience structural abnormalities in certain brain areas. The brain abnormalities linger several years after a user quits smoking.

Getting Help for a Marijuana Problem

You probably didn’t become addicted to marijuana overnight, and recovery is a process, too. The help of therapeutic, sympathetic professionals in a treatment environment can dramatically improve your chances of recovery. Help is just a confidential phone call away. Please contact us today by calling the number above.