While actual physical addiction only occurs in severe cases, problem use is very common. It is estimated that 30 percent of individuals who use the drug regularly will develop a marijuana use disorder. Adolescents who experiment with the drug before the age of 18 are far more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder later on in life. The symptoms of problem use include:
- Experiencing intense psychological cravings for marijuana
- Taking more marijuana than intended over a longer period of time than intended
- Neglecting obligations at work, at school or at home
- Continuing to use marijuana despite recurring interpersonal problems that are directly linked to use
- Giving up recreational and social activities that were previously enjoyed
- Developing a physical tolerance, meaning that a greater amount of marijuana is required in order for the desired effects to be achieved
- Experiencing symptoms of withdrawal if marijuana use is stopped abruptly (and generally, continuing to use marijuana in order to prevent these uncomfortable physical and psychological symptoms)
The withdrawal symptoms most commonly reported are decreased appetite, intense psychological cravings, increased irritability, difficulty sleeping, restlessness and general feelings of physical discomfort. These symptoms typically last around two weeks, and peak within the first week after quitting.
While marijuana use disorders can be extremely disruptive and cause a range of personal consequences, they are not considered life-threatening – and can be effectively treated in an outpatient treatment setting.