Marijuana Addiction, Abuse and Treatment

Marijuana Addiction, Abuse and Treatment

Cannabis has been around for centuries and the plant has been used to make rope, thread, clothes and even smoked for its psychoactive properties and medicinal purposes. The drug has been widely used in America for more than 40 years.

It is estimated that close to 5 million Americans regularly use marijuana. In the last 2 decades, surveys reveal that use of marijuana among the younger population of school and college students has widely increased. Recent data indicates the average age when marijuana is used is 18 years. The majority of individuals who use marijuana are also frequent users of alcohol and other illicit drugs.


Marijuana is obtained from the dried leaves and flowers of the hemp plant. The potency of marijuana depends on the method of preparation. Ganja and hashish are both three-five times more potent than marijuana. Although marijuana is usually smoked, it can also be eaten or mixed in beverages like tea, coffee and in very rare cases, it is also injected. Analysis of marijuana has revealed that the content of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is currently much higher than in the past 2 decades. THC is the primary psychoactive component of marijuana. The intoxicating effects of marijuana usually last 2-3 hours.


The majority of marijuana available in the US is smuggled in from Mexico and is a low potency, commercial grade product. The high potent marijuana is usually home grown or smuggled in from Canada. Recent seizures indicate that the content of THC has increased in the home grown product. The states which continue to cultivate large amounts of marijuana are California, Kentucky, Tennessee, Hawaii, and Washington. Law enforcement data indicate that arrests for marijuana possession are up across the nation. The Bureau of Justice Survey indicates that about 12% of prisoners in the nation are serving time for a first marijuana related offense.

Why Do People Abuse Marijuana?

Marijuana is used for several reasons including inquisitiveness, peer pressure or for fun. The majority of users claim that the drug often causes euphoria, a sense of relaxation, sexual arousal and easier socialization with other colleagues. The easy access, cheap price and minimum legal penalties has led to an increased usage of this drug in the past 2 decades.

Adverse Effects

Marijuana addiction use has been associated with numerous physical and behavioral adverse effects. The majority of users report some type of side effect. There have been numerous reports of motor vehicle accident and work related accidents which have been associated with marijuana use usually related to mental clouding and sluggishness.

The safety of marijuana during pregnancy is not in question. Continued use during pregnancy has been known to cause a small size fetus with low birth weight. Also reported is that the children of mothers who have used marijuana during pregnancy have a higher rate of a type of blood cancer

Some patients with pre-existing medical conditions who use marijuana may be at risk for developing respiratory tract infections, bronchitis, emphysema and COPD. Marijuana smoke does not contain nicotine but does have a significantly higher tar content than cigarettes and this has been associated with a higher incidence of lung cancers in these patients.

The most common side effects of marijuana are cognitive deficits. Short term use has been associated with memory defects, mental clouding and confusion.

Tolerance and Dependence

Marijuana use can lead to abuse, tolerance and dependence. After long term use, withdrawal symptoms can develop if the marijuana usage is stopped suddenly Generally the withdrawal symptoms are mild and may include nausea, tremor, sweating, weight loss, insomnia, agitation and irritability.

Does Marijuana Have Any Medical Value?

Advocates of marijuana for medical use always claim that marijuana has some medical properties in the treatment of glaucoma, nausea, vomiting and tremor. However, today there are excellent and much safer drugs used to treat these medical conditions and there is no justification for the use of marijuana. However, some states do allow legal use of marijuana for improving appetite in AIDs patient and decreasing the nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy.

Possible Medical uses for Marijuana
  • Anti emetic
  • Increase appetite
  • Decrease tremors
  • Decrease seizures
  • Decrease glaucoma
  • Decrease stress


Marijuana Abuse

Although marijuana abuse in the younger populations is of a major concern, one needs to be aware that there are other patient groups that also abuse marijuana. Numerous individuals with certain psychiatric disorders such as stress, anxiety, post traumatic disorder and bipolar disorder have also been known to abuse marijuana. These concerns have led to many institutions obtaining direct disclosure of marijuana-related problems, usage, and a positive urine drug screen prior to undertaking any therapy.


Marijuana is a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule I drugs are classified as having a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.

Marijuana Dependence Treatment

Prior to any intervention, most drug treatment programs include education, monitoring of drug use, strengthening of social support, treatment of possible comorbid psychiatric disorders and referral to a pain specialist.

Withdrawal and acute panic reactions and flashbacks during marijuana intoxication are usually managed with supportive therapy. In severe cases, low-dose benzodiazepines are used. Generally the withdrawal symptoms from marijuana are mild and do not required any drug therapy.

Patients with marijuana abuse or dependence are referred to a comprehensive substance abuse treatment program. Such programs are designed to avoid relapse and include comprehensive substance abuse and psychiatric evaluations, laboratory testing, group therapy, education, social services, individual counseling, promotion of 12-step programs (such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous) and treatment of any co-morbid psychiatric illness.

Often, these programs involve individual reflection about how problems with substance abuse develop the direct and indirect costs of substance abuse, biopsychosocial triggers for substance use, relapse prevention strategies, ways to enhance coping skills and spiritual issues.


  1. Losken A, Maviglia S, Friedman LS. Marijuana. In: Friedman LS, et al., eds. Source book of substance abuse and addiction. Baltimore, Md.: Williams & Wilkins, 1996:179-87.
  2. Cohen G, Fleming NF, Glatter KA, Haghigi DB, Halberstadt J, McHugh KB, et al. Epidemiology of substance use. In: Friedman LS, et al., eds. Source book of substance abuse and addiction. Baltimore, Md.: Williams & Wilkins, 1996:23-46.
  3. Schuckit MA. Cannabinols. In: Drug and alcohol abuse: a clinical guide to diagnosis and treatment. 3d ed. New York: Plenum Medical, 1989:143-57.

Topic Discussion

  1. Addict

    " Marijuana smoke does not contain nicotine but does have a significantly higher tar content than cigarettes..." False, marijuana is the dried leaf, flower, and stem of the cannabis plant, there is no tar content as there is no processing step in the production and distribution of marijuana. naturally occurring tar is produced in pine and pine like trees, and found fossilized in the earth, to say marijuana has more tar than cigarettes would be to the same effect as saying dandelions do as well. i would like to see the specific source or article of this segment

    • Addict


      If you look at the bottom of the article there is information supplying the references used in the article. I hope that will help answer your question.


  2. Addict

    The benefits of marijuana are well documented from relief of pain of muscular diseases to coping with glaucoma. This web page is a front either by right wing religious groups who despise anyone enjoying themselves or is preying on the ignorance of marijuana smokers to make a quick buck. Look at the date of the references - mid 1990's when the government was in full "scare" mode.

  3. Addict

    Another great article full of absolute false information.

    Did you even notice how 2 points in your article contradict each other.

    Make up your mind, "there is no justification for the use of marijuana" or is it:
    Possible Medical Uses for Marijuana
    Possible Medical uses for Marijuana•Anti emetic
    •Increase appetite
    •Decrease tremors
    •Decrease seizures
    •Decrease glaucoma
    •Decrease stress

    I think you need to educate yourself, as your information on the allowed uses by states with medical marijuana is also false. Those states allow a far broader amount of uses than just for Cancer and AIDS patients as you suggest.

    Why do you think 1/3 of our states currently allow medical marijuana?
    Is that because there is no recognized medical use as well?

  4. Addict

    it is so bad for you so do not do it if you are good at sports to do it.

  5. Addict

    I smoke bud and i am crazy at football baseball and i am sponsored for snowboarding. you can smoke and be good at sports just not cigs those fuck you up.

  6. Addict

    My husband smokes every day all the time. While he is nice while he's high, when he comes down he is a complete asshole and treats me like a piece of shit in front of our children. So there is the downside. I think it's okay to do once in a while, but every single day to keep yourself high? I imagine there are people who can handle it, and are productive. But I know from him when he comes down he is an asshole...through and through. Which is why I want him to stop completely. He forgets things, picks fights, antagonizes. It's ridiculous and I'm sick of it.

    • Addict

      I'm so glad that I read this from you. I'm currently dating a guy who is addicted to marijuana. He is the exact same way. Always sweet and thoughtful when he's high; then when he comes down, he's a total asshole. I've asked him to stop as well, but he just lies to me saying he'll quit. Then, the first few bucks he makes is spent on it. I have no problem with recreational marijuana use and I also believe that some people can function on it, but he can't..or rather chooses not to. I am incredibly sick of it too. I wish you the best of luck and hope things get better for you.

      • Addict

        Weed didn't make him an asshole, it doesn't affect your personality. He was an asshole already and the weed chilled him out.

        • Addict

          Not true. If you're an addict it definitely DOES affect your personality. I dated a guy for nearly four years who was so sweet, he once gave me a nearly tearful lecture about why it was insensitive of me to kill a spider I saw crawling around on the floor. He became addicted, yes, addicted to pot. Apparently, he was self-medicating social-phobia. Most people who "need" pot are self-medicating something. Why else would they "need" it to be happy unlike the rest of us? He went from being the guy who treated his friends and I like gold, to being a completely selfish d**k who deceived and lied to everyone to hide his drug use. In the end, he would lie about even the stupidest things, high or not. Finally, after being lied to for the last time, and finding out that he had used drugs in my apartment, and risked my freedom when my band was playing at a local concert and he was holding without my knowledge in my car and cops were randomly searching vehicles, I lost it. I blacked out, kicked his ass and turned him in to the police, along with his supplier, his drug-dealing cousin and the cousin's girlfriend. The reason I didn't get a bullet in my head, is because I had a piece of information on his cousin that would have gotten him killed instantly by a local drug dealer. (Oh yeah, people who are high can't keep a secret, even if it could get them killed.) My life went from being a popular, and always smiling alternative band leader, to an ass-kicking bitch who didn't trust anyone because it seemed like there was a conspiracy of drug use everywhere I looked. If you are with a guy who is using, dump him immediately before your life becomes an episode of Jerry Springer. It will save your life and self-esteem. I ended up going back to school, earning two degrees graduating in the top 1% of my class, started a business, date intelligent and confident guys, and can trust people again because I'm hanging around with awesome honest people in lieu of losers who can't stand their own reflection and have to smoke weed to crack a smile because they aren't creative or smart enough to do it naturally.

  7. Addict

    well....the thing is...if that guy is like that to you...dump his ass...there is not reason for ANY man to be treating a girl like that...get rid of him before you get hurt.

  8. Addict

    Perfect information, perfect treatment solution contains every post in this site. I think everyone need to educate himself, about various medical problem. Also each of this guidelines should follow everyone. It must helpful to everyone. well done carry on.

  9. Addict

    I would like to begin by showing my Disgust in this sites whole concept of "education". Society seeks answers based on Fact not propaganda, and that's about all I've seen on this page. First point I'd like to make is that whoever wrote this, are endorsing Racism - "marijuana" is NOT this Plant's name, it' name is Cannabis; I'm Sure we can all say (kanna-bus) Right? So then, let's have a serious Fact based and mature approach to this topic shall we. Cannabis has been PROVEN to have medical benefit for Thousands of different medical ailments, including Single-handedly Curing Cancer, can we all say CURE CANCER?! If not, how about "Reverse Alzheimer's" then maybe, heal diabetic ulcers??? The DEA has acknowledged the Medicinal Benefits of cannabis, not "possible", actual benefits. The AMA AHA and many Other "big" associations acknowledge medicinal benefits, the IMO report in 1999 did as well, many globally have scientifically tested and confirmed and endorsed cannabis's medical value offerings to mankind, so if they can all admit to it, I would Hope that a site like this would as well. Sativex should be an additional proof to that also. These tests have also concluded a great many facts such as less that 10 of users suffer any sort of "addiction/withdrawal", which cannabis does NOT lead to "substance abuse", a slick way of saying "gateway", it does Not cause sterility or brain damage or any other of that type of slander. This is a plant; it's grown in the wild for tens of thousands of Years - Never One Death EVER from it. America was "made free from its dependence from England" by cannabis - Thomas Jefferson "smuggled" the seeds here and it was grown o ingest as well as to found the First American Paper-mill! Perhaps you are not aware of another "alias" names society had given This Plant - "Hemp", or a better one "Homespun", either of Those ring a bell? 85% of the world's dependencies were met by cannabis before the foul law of 1937... Before "plastic" or "nylon" this plant supplemented all they could and then some. The oil of the seeds is the most nutritious "thing" on this earth, for human animals and especially birds - 1,000 to one more so than Soya! 1 acre of cannabis can clean the amount of air that 5 acres of mature trees can 3 times Faster, and it's annually renewable, unlike trees which take Years to grow to a "mature" age. Cannabis replenishes top soils with micro-nutrients which unlike your "crops", actually feeds the soil that feeds your crops! You'd rather them drill oil than burn cannabis oil in their cars trucks ships and factories? 1 1/2" long pulp fibers are obtained from your tree fiber production, yet cannabis can produce lengths up to 18 Feet! How many annually growing plants could virtually replace our dependence on fossil fuels, improve our food and air quality, reverse global warming, replace all textile chemicals, prevent the need for one more single tree to be cut down and heal such diseases as Cancer? Abraham Lincoln's wife was prescribed it for depression after his death; George Washington grew and smoked it, as did the majority back then. Our nation's first flag was sewn out of cannabis - "canvas" as the Dutch pronounce it, the Constitution was made of cannabis paper as was the first paper currency, and the list goes on and on more that your page will probably allow! "colonist settlers" who Farmed were Required by Law to Grow cannabis and to give it to the government which was the First form of actual "taxes" in America - Columbus's boat maps, clothes, ropes, sails, bibles, books, shoes, etc. were ALL made of this plant ya know! Forgive my extreme passion, this is a very Serious issue to me, my doctors have Told me, specialists too, that cannabis is the ONLY reason and thing keeping me alive, it's anti-qualities such as anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, anti-nausea, anti-tremor qualities, etc.... but too it's pro qualities - pain and muscle spasm relief from my Parkinson's, pro-appetite for my Cachexia, and again I Could go on. I have been a cannabis activist for almost 15 Years and worked directly and personally for 13 of those with he they call "the Emperor of Hemp", author of "The Emperor Wears No Clothes" Mr. Jack Herer, who has been a Freedom Fighting cannabis activist for more than 40 years and is the reason we can today Prove that cannabis deserves to no longer be Disrespected, slandered or condemned, that it needs to be appreciated respected and praised for its gift of values Despite all the Abuse it's suffered Wrongfully thus far! I wonder if this will be approved for post, or if this site prefers to continue to suppress the Truth and Facts because the continued slander and persecution will continue your cash flow. The "War on Drugs" Failed in case you haven't heard by the way, just so ya know, and it's because of lies and half if not mis-truths spread on sites like this! Thank you for hearing, whether ya post or not. If you'd like anymore Facts, please let me know, I'd be happy

  10. Addict

    Thanks for the posting Pain Treatment service article. I will take your treatment.

  11. Addict

    Many people think that marijuana is just a drug; well it's not just an ordinary drug for many people rely on it to alleviate the symptoms of their illness. There are various medical uses for marijuana but how to Get Medical Marijuana is always a problem for patients.

  12. Addict

    It is clear to see by the comments that there is a whole generation not properly educated about drugs who very easily accept what they want to hear and want to believe what they want to believe. I will not argue the medical claims of marijuana. It does come in a legitimate Rx drug but as a society we have to weigh the risks versus benefits and the risks of widespread usage and the problems associated with it outweigh the benefit for a select few. Our country is falling behind other industrialized nations in almost every area and will only improve with clear minded, productive citizens. The people I know who abuse drugs whether it is pot or prescription are not productive, not clear minded and usually do not contribute anything worthwhile to society. Most of them live off their parents or the government and they have few thoughts of anyone but themselves and how to get the drugs they want. They neglect those they love and they CAN'T even see it. They think they are fine while they hurt those that love them. Does that happen overnight? Not usually. It seems to be gradual and may not happen to everyone but why take the risk? I don't think we need to worry about Social Security. This generation will be the death of themselves if they don't wake up and see the truth :( I am very worried for them.

  13. Addict

    A 35 year old single mother of two with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder was known to have comorbid alcohol and marijuana dependence. She has been in and out of rehabilitation three times. Recently her two sons were seen living under the bridge. Highlight steps to rehabilitate her.

  14. Addict

    The reason why medical cannabis cannot be eradicated in the list of alternative healing is because a lot of patients are testifying that it does work and that it has improved their lives in so many ways.

  15. Addict

    This is literally all bullshit made up by people who think they're above everyone else. Marijuana is not a drug, it is a plant. It grows from the ground you cut it down and dry it out and when you smoke it you become relaxed, hungry, and/or tired. Slight memory loss and occasional fogginess are the only side effects. Marijuana has no addictive properties and there is no withdraw symptoms from a sudden decrease in smoking. Cigarettes and alcohol are far more dangerous to someone's health and actually have addictive properties. If you smoke cigarettes or drink regularly then you have a far greater problem then someone who smokes marijuana.

  16. Addict

    I have been a smoker of Cannabis for many years. It treats the constant pain I have as a result of Arthritis, Lymphedema, Lipedema and Neuropathy. It treats the nausea I feel as a result of a gastric bypass bariatric surgery. Many days when I do not smoke it I cannot eat anything without feeling sick, Marijuana helps with that. It also gives me clarity and focus (yes, you read that correctly) when dealing with symptoms of Asperger's Syndrome/Autistic Disorder. I am calm, able to think, focus and function better with a regimented treatment of smoking Marijuana than without it. I am not "addicted “to it, I do not experience "withdrawals “without it, I simply cannot function as well, there is pain, fogginess and nausea when I do not smoke.

    I'd like to thank the Reverend for his comments above on the positive affect Hemp and Cannabis has had on this country, and elaborate further with one more shocking fact:

    The only reason Cannabis was criminalized in this country is because day workers in the Midwestern South would smoke it during their work day, and it was thought that Marijuana made them lazy. They rose up for legislation, and got it, making Marijuana illegal, so their workers could no longer partake.

    If Cannabis were legalized federally, mass-produced and used in all its forms, and taxed, we would have no National Debt. Think about it, this country has how many exportable goods? Tobacco is one, a product which GIVES you Cancer, rather than treats and cures it the way Marijuana does. Yet that is legal and taxed.

    Imagine how much easier "the war on drugs “would be if they concentrated on drugs and not stuff that literally grows on the sides of roads and highways.

    Marijuana got it's moniker "weed “from the fact that it almost literally is one. It can grow in nearly any climate, in nearly any conditions. When they outlaw Dandelions, then talk to me about Cannabis.

Leave a comment


To protect the integrity of our site all comments are reviewed prior to being shown, we apologize for the small delay, but this brings a better experience for our readers. SPAM & rude comments are not tolerated. Using the 'Connect with Facebook' option will get your comment up faster!

Contact A Substance Abuse Counselor

We help people take the first steps toward getting help for their drug and alcohol usage and having drug-free lifestyles. To contact an alcohol/drug abuse counselor, please call 1-800-591-6474(Info iconWho Answers?).

Socialize with us
Close Icon

Where do calls go?

Calls to numbers on a specific treatment center listing will be routed to that treatment center. Additional calls will also be forwarded and returned by a quality treatment center within the USA.

Calls to any general helpline (non-facility specific 1-8XX numbers) for your visit will be answered by a licensed drug and alcohol rehab facility, a paid advertiser on

All calls are private and confidential.