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Marijuana Addiction & Treatment Options

Determining whether marijuana or other cannabis use has become problematic can be challenging. For some, answering such a question is made more difficult by the varying legal statuses across different states in the United States (as well as the ongoing discussion about a potential change in Scheduling level as a controlled substance). 

Your cannabis use might have evolved beyond casual recreation, but the legal landscape can obscure this distinction in some peoples’ minds. Similar to alcohol though, even “legal” use can lead to issues for some people. If you are worried that you or a loved one may have a problem with marijuana use, help is available. Addiction treatment facilities can help people struggling with cannabis use disorder regain control of their lives.1 This page will examine what marijuana is, cannabis addiction, and the types of addiction treatment programs available.

What is Marijuana (Weed)?

Marijuana (sometimes referred to as dope, pot, or weed) is the term commonly used to describe the dried flowers, leaves, and other portions of the cannabis plant.2 Continued marijuana use can lead to addiction, an outcome that may become more likely with an increasingly potent supply of the drug.2 

In 2022, 61.9 million people (22.0 percent) of people 12 or older used marijuana in the past year, with the highest percentage of users found in young adults between 18 and 25, with 13.3 million people (38.2 percent).3 In this same timeframe, among 12 and older age group, an estimated 19 million people struggled with a marijuana use disorder.3

Is Marijuana Addictive?

The primary intoxicating component in marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which affects the brain in ways that can alter consciousness or mood, leading to the sensation of feeling high.2,4 Daily use of weed can lead to the development of marijuana addiction, which is also referred to as a cannabis use disorder or marijuana use disorder.2,4

Substance use disorders (SUDs) like these are medical conditions that affect a person’s brain and behavior. For SUDs, including marijuana use disorder, it becomes difficult for a person to stop using the drug despite its potential for negative health and social consequences. Some studies have suggested that as many as 30% of people who use weed go on to develop some degree of marijuana use disorder.2

In fact, around 3 in 10 individuals who use marijuana have a cannabis use disorder.5 Additionally, of those people who use cannabis during their youth or adolescence, the risk of develop cannabis use disorder is greater.5

Signs of Marijuana Addiction

Marijuana and other types of cannabis addiction are diagnosed by treatment professionals as cannabis use disorders. Certain diagnostic criteria are used to make such a diagnosis. As outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5), the potential signs and symptoms of a cannabis use disorder include:5,6

  • Using cannabis in greater quantities or for longer times than intended.
  • Attempting to quit using cannabis unsuccessfully.
  • Devoting substantial time to obtaining cannabis, cannabis use, and recovering from its use.
  • Experiencing cravings for cannabis.
  • Using cannabis despite its use resulting in failed obligations at home, school, or work.
  • Continued cannabis use despite persistent social or interpersonal difficulties resulting from or worsened by its use.
  • Sacrificing important social, occupational, and recreational activities for cannabis use.
  • Repeatedly using cannabis in physically dangerous situations (i.e., while driving).
  • Ongoing cannabis use despite knowledge of the physical or psychological harms associated with its use.
  • Needing more cannabis to achieve the same effect (i.e., tolerance).
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms if use is reduced or stopped. 

Only a medical professional can diagnose a cannabis use disorder, so please contact your doctor to discuss your marijuana use and any concerns you may have. 

Like many drugs, marijuana is thought to affect the reward circuit in the brain. The reward circuit functions to motivate people to repeat behaviors that make us feel good.7 Though the brain chemical details may be somewhat different from other drugs of abuse like opioids, marijuana use results in a stimulation of this reward system, which reinforces its continued use.2,7

Marijuana Withdrawal

With continued long-term use of marijuana, dependence can develop. A person with physiological marijuana dependence who tries to quit may experience withdrawal symptoms that make stopping additionally difficult. The symptoms of marijuana withdrawal may include:2,4

  • Anxiety.
  • Irritability.
  • Sleep problems (e.g., nightmares, insomnia).
  • Restlessness.
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Cravings for more weed.

Adverse Effects of Marijuana Use

There are several potentially harmful short-term and long-term effects of marijuana use.

Short-term effects may include:2,4

  • Altered perception of senses.
  • Altered sense of time (e.g., minutes feeling like hours).
  • Changes in mood.
  • Changes in cognition (e.g., decreased memory and problem-solving ability).
  • Increased appetite.
  • Impaired body movements.

Early marijuana use may be associated with certain brain development issues; as a result, some teenagers may experience both short- and long-term problems with thinking, memory, and learning.2,8 

Effects of longer-term use may include:2,4,8

  • Coughing and breathing problems with frequent smoking.
  • Higher risk of lung infections and injury.
  • Impaired thinking, memory, and learning functions.
  • Mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, and worsened psychotic symptoms in vulnerable individuals.
  • Physical dependence and withdrawal.
  • Development of an addiction (or marijuana/cannabis use disorder).

It is unlikely that marijuana itself will result in a fatal overdose, but too much of it can result in severe adverse reactions. Some of the signs and symptoms that you have used too much weed include:9

  • Anxiety and panic.
  • Panic.
  • Rapid heart rate.
  • Increased blood pressure.
  • Delusions.
  • Paranoia.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Severe nausea and vomiting.

Marijuana Addiction Treatment

If you or a loved one is struggling with marijuana addiction, help is available. Treatment options vary in duration, intensity, and setting, among other factors. Treatment should ideally be personalized to effectively meet individual needs. 

Various levels of addiction treatment and addiction treatment settings may be available in your area, including supervised detoxification, inpatient/residential, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient programs.  

Inpatient Rehab for Marijuana Addiction

Inpatient addiction treatment can be highly beneficial for individuals facing severe marijuana addiction or who have polysubstance use issues. For some individuals, inpatient treatment may occur after a period of detox. Medical detox is not typically needed for those who are using marijuana, but if someone is using both marijuana and another substance, known as polysubstance use, then detox may be recommended. 

Residents in inpatient facilities stay onsite around-the-clock, adhering to a structured routine aimed at maintaining a drug-free lifestyle.10 Seeking guidance from addiction specialists can help determine the most suitable treatment path based on individual circumstances.

Outpatient Rehab for Weed Addiction

There are various outpatient addiction treatment options available for individuals. They include:10,11

  • Standard outpatient treatment: This is the least intensive level of care, potentially involving a few structured sessions per week with a therapist in an office or other clinical setting while the individual resides at home.
  • Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs): These programs are relatively more time intensive than standard outpatient visits, requiring patients to participate in up to 20 hours of treatment per week. These programs generally span from several weeks to months, as needed. IOPs require attending multiple weekly sessions initially, gradually reducing frequency and session lengths over time.
  • Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs): Also known as “day treatment,” these programs represent the most intensive level of outpatient substance addiction treatment. They may be hosted in hospital settings or specialized clinics. Patients attend treatment for 4 to 8 hours per day, typically lasting for a minimum of 3 months.

Paying for Treatment for Marijuana Addiction

For those who have insurance, using health insurance to pay for rehab should cover at least some of the cost of addiction treatment. Depending on your individual insurance plan, treatment at a specific facility may or may not be covered. It’s important that you know what is covered prior to attending a rehab. Use the free online insurance coverage checker tool below to find out if your health insurance provides coverage for addiction rehab and other rehabilitation treatment plans for substance abuse recovery. Coverage may vary depending on your needs and insurance plan. You can also click here to find a rehab near me.

If you don’t have insurance, there are other options available to help you pursue treatment. In addition to insurance, there is state-funded rehab, low-cost rehab options, and free rehab centers that can assist with the cost of rehab and associated therapies.

Finding Marijuana Addiction Treatment Centers

For more information about marijuana use disorder and marijuana addiction treatment, you may want to reach out to your doctor. Or you can contact one of our admissions navigators at for the information, guidance, and support you are looking for as you look for marijuana addiction treatment.

There are various treatment programs and strategies available for marijuana addiction, so don’t give up if the first program you check out doesn’t meet your individual needs. You can use our treatment locator tool to find addiction rehab near you. 

Take Our “Am I Addicted to Marijuana?” Self-Assessment

Take our free, 5-minute “Am I Addicted to Marijuana” self-assessment below if you think you or someone you love might be struggling with marijuana addiction. The evaluation consists of yes or no questions that are intended to be used as an informational tool to assess for a potential substance use disorder. Substance use disorders should be diagnosed by professionals using these diagnostic criteria after thorough patient assessment. This self-assessment is free and confidential and may serve as an indicator of a potential addiction but should not replace a diagnosis from a professional treatment provider.

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