Marijuana has over 100 compounds referred to as cannabinoids, some of which are responsible for producing mind-altering effects in users of the drug. The drug is one of the most widely used in the US and has various health effects on the brain and the body. This is why marijuana users must identify when they are using too much of the drug.
Using marijuana regularly can lead to addiction. Individuals who start using the drug during adolescence can possibly become addicted when they reach adulthood. Since teenagers’ brains are usually still developing, this makes them even more vulnerable to the long-term effects of marijuana. Individuals who start using the drug heavily and regularly before 16 years might end up increasing the amount and frequency of use as adults.
Signs of Marijuana Addiction
When one becomes addicted to marijuana, they can experience withdrawal when they stop using the drug. Here are some of the ways to identify if you are addicted to marijuana or using too much of it.
- You are stoned regularly for more than 1 or 2 hours daily
- You might be unable to stop using marijuana after you have started
- You may be regularly stoned to the extent of failing to attend to commitments or finish big tasks
- You might start spending a lot of time recovering from marijuana use, using the drug, or focusing on buying it.
- You may start experiencing more issues with memory loss and concentration.
- You may start taking more risks while under the influence of marijuana, such as driving while high
- You might start talking about reducing your marijuana use
- You may start experiencing marijuana withdrawal symptoms after stopping use for some time. This includes depression, anxiety, trouble sleeping, irritability, or cravings for the drug.
Exhibiting one of these behaviors alone might not be a sign that you are addicted to marijuana, but having several could indicate a problem. People suffering from marijuana use disorder might also have a higher likelihood of experiencing other negative effects such as problems with learning, memory, and attention as mentioned above.
Some individuals suffering from marijuana use might need to use higher concentrations or amounts of marijuana gradually to feel high. The higher the amount of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) in the marijuana used, the stronger its effects on the user’s brain.
Heavy Marijuana Use Effects on Cognitive Function
Some negative effects caused by marijuana can be permanent especially for young people and heavy users. When the drug is inhaled or ingested, the THC compound attaches to the brain’s cannabinoid receptors altering the user’s perception of pain, appetite, memory, and mood. These effects might even remain in heavy users after the “high’ feeling has faded away.
Research has varying definitions of what “heavy use’ pertains to, but this usually refers to the use of marijuana at least three times weekly or frequently in a day for years. This type of frequent marijuana use has been connected to reduced scores on decision-making, planning, attention, and memory tests. According to studies, heavy users who abstained for 12 to 24 hours had worse performance on tasks assessing memory and verbal learning compared to ‘light’ users and non-users.
Even though abstaining from marijuana for a few weeks can help to restore some cognitive function in individuals, heavy use still contributes to lasting changes in the brain’s structure and function. People with cannabis-use disorder usually have a lot of trouble trying to stop using marijuana and most of them will have withdrawal symptoms in response to this.
How Much Marijuana Use Causes Withdrawal?
People will typically have different experiences of marijuana withdrawal and the extent of it will also depend on various factors such as general health and frequency of use. Individuals who use it less than once weekly may experience less intense withdrawal symptoms compared to daily marijuana smokers.
The symptoms of cannabis withdrawal symptoms may include restlessness, trouble sleeping, reduced appetite, irritability, depressed mood, and anxiety. Such symptoms typically occur in heavy or chronic marijuana users, especially those who have been using the drug every day for months to years. Individuals who try to significantly reduce or stop their marijuana use will experience withdrawal. Heavy cannabis use increases the amount of THC in the bloodstream. For the body to regain its balance, it needs to modify the natural THC receptor and neurochemical (adrenaline and serotonin) levels. Reducing your cannabis intake significantly or stopping the use of the drug affects the body’s balance meaning you have to get it back to normal by changing the neurochemical and THC receptor levels.
It should be noted that not everyone who reduces or stops using marijuana will have withdrawal when they do. Individuals who use stronger marijuana or high-THC products a few times daily are probably at a higher risk of experiencing withdrawal symptoms. The most crucial factor when it comes to marijuana use is the frequency of use and not the potency of the drug product used. Taking weed daily even if it has a low concentration of THC, can still cause the same biochemical modifications in your body that may result in withdrawal. Other health problems such as poor nutrition, dehydration, and lack of sleep can make you more sensitive to the stress of withdrawal.
The risk of marijuana withdrawal may be higher for people who use high-potency concentrates of cannabis such as shatter or wax daily. This is also the case for edibles. Once you stop using marijuana regularly, the body will begin going back to how it was before using the drug. Considering how potent marijuana is today, the mental and physical health risks of the drug are much higher for people who use it.