Marijuana Addiction and You: What You Need to Know

Learn to Recognize the Symptoms of Marijuana Addiction

Hands Passing Marijuana
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Marijuana (cannabis) addiction is a life-disrupting pattern of marijuana use characterized by many of the typical signs and symptoms of drug addiction, also called drug dependence. It's classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), as "Cannabis Use Disorder."

If you use marijuana, you may be wondering if you've become addicted to it. If so, here's something that may come as a surprise: You've reached an important milestone on the road to changing your habits related to the drug.

Why is that? Because, as with other types of addiction, denial is common among marijuana addicts. They almost never admit to being addicted. In fact, they often strongly deny that it's even possible to be addicted to marijuana. That doesn't sound like you.

What Are the Symptoms of Marijuana Addiction?

According to the DSM-5, the presence of at least two of the following types of symptoms, occurring within a period of 12 months, strongly suggests addiction to marijuana:

  • Using it in larger amounts and over a longer period than you intended
  • Thinking a lot about cutting back or stopping your marijuana use, without success
  • Spending a lot of time seeking and using the drug and recovering from its effects
  • Craving (strongly desiring) to use marijuana
  • Using the drug so often, you can't get important things done
  • Continuing to use it even when it's causing social or relationship problems for you, and/or even when you've developed a physical or psychological problem related to using it
  • Giving up or doing less of activities you enjoy because you'd rather use marijuana
  • Using it in situations that could be hazardous or even dangerous
  • Developing a tolerance for it -- needing more and more of it to achieve the same effects
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you "run out" of marijuana

"What if I'm thinking I may be addicted to marijuana?'

First, take a good, clear look at the way you're living.

How closely does your life fit with the addiction symptoms listed above? Remember, you're already past the denial stage, where many marijuana addicts "get stuck" and are unable to take back control of their lives. And you've read this article to this point, which suggests you're serious about getting help to curb or stop your marijuana use.

If you think you've crossed from marijuana use to marijuana addiction, seek help as soon as possible. This is particularly important if you've experienced certain negative effects of marijuana, particularly: 

  • Extreme changes in mood, outlook, and the way you interpret things going on around you
  • Changes in your self-image and/or the way you think about yourself or other people, especially if you start thinking that others are watching you

Despite what you may have heard, marijuana is not a harmless drug. In addition to keeping you from fully experiencing your life, it can be a trigger for mental illness. Getting help for marijuana addiction "asap" increases the likelihood that treatment will be both effective and enduring.



Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition,"  American Psychiatric Association (2013).

Beck K, Caldeira K, Vincent K, et al. "The social context of cannabis use: relationship to cannabis use disorders and depressive symptoms among college students." Addict Behav. 2009;34:764-768.

Dragt S, Nieman D, Becker H, et al. "Age of onset of cannabis use is associated with age of onset of high-risk symptoms for psychosis." Can J Psychiatry. 2010;55:65-171.

Fiesta, F, Radovanovic M, Martins S, et al. "Cross-national differences in clinically significant cannabis problems: epidemiologic evidence from 'cannabis-only' smokers in the United States, Mexico, and Colombia." BMC Public Health. 2010;10:152.

Fischer B, Rehm J, Irving H, et al. "Typologies of cannabis users and associated characteristics relevant for public health: a latent class analysis of data from a nationally representative Canadian adult survey." Int J Methods Psychiatr Res. 2010;19:110-124. 2010.

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