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Signs, Symptoms and Side Effects of Marijuana Addiction:

Marijuana is a highly damaging drug but unfortunately, statistics show that the number of Americans which believe that marijuana can have adverse effects is decreasing. It is most widely used drug in America with maximum number of users after alcohol. If the abuse is prolonged, it can cause serious damage to the body and mind. With continued use, the signs and symptoms of marijuana abuse can become obvious.

Signs, Symptoms and Side Effects of Marijuana Addiction

Table of Contents:

  • 1.Signs and Symptoms of Marijuana Addiction
  • 2.Effects of Marijuana on Brain: Long Term and Short Term
  • 3.Other Health Effects of Marijuana
  • 4.The Overall Effects of Using Marijuana
  • 5.Effects of Using Marijuana on School, Office and Social Life

Signs and Symptoms of Marijuana Addiction:

Hiding marijuana use and abuse is relatively easier as compared to other drugs. Looking for these signs in a loved one can help you figure out if they are struggling with marijuana addiction.

Behavioral Changes:

A number of changes in the behavior can be noticed. The addict cares about getting the drug by any means and ignores other responsibilities.

Marijuana Addiction
  • Lack of interest in everyday activities
  • Secretive behavior
  • Poor performance at everyday activities
  • Impaired coordination
  • Distorted perception of things
  • Forgetfulness
  • Difficulty in thinking and focusing

Health Issues:

Health issues are also frequently experienced by marijuana addicts such as:

  • Unusually red eyes
  • Persistent cough with mucus
  • Dryness of mouth
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Difficulty remembering things
  • Increased hunger which is termed as munchies
  • Slow reaction to situations
  • Loss of control
  • Decreased IQ level

Marijuana addicts also exhibit a fearful behavior since in most of the cases, they are afraid of being caught.

Effects of Marijuana on Brain:

Marijuana abuse has both long term and short term effects on brain.

Short Term Effects:

When marijuana is smoked, THC, the key ingredient present in the marijuana reaches the lungs. From lungs, it is diffused into the blood vessels and bloodstream carries the chemical to all parts of the body including brain. This is how marijuana produces its effects. The euphoric feeling is achieved very quickly when marijuana is inhaled. In case of edibles made from marijuana, it takes some time for the chemical to diffuse into blood and produce its effects. Usually, it can take 30 minutes to 1 hour after the consumption. This is the key reason young and inexperienced people are admitted to the emergency. They think they have not consumed enough marijuana to produce the effects so they keep taking more that results into an overdose.

After reaching the brain, marijuana acts on specific receptor cells in the brain and mimics the effects of natural neurotransmitters. Normally, those receptor cells are only stimulated by natural neurotransmitters that help the brain perform its usual functions. With the use of marijuana, a large number of these neurotransmitter like chemicals are provided that act on receptor cells and overexcite certain parts of the brain. This is the reason people feel euphoric, ecstatic and in some cases, depressed.

The other effects produced by the drug include:

  • Heightened senses, for example better hearing and seeing abilities
  • Improved mental capabilities for some people such as better problem solving capabilities. For other people, the effect can be exactly opposite
  • Changes in mood
  • Faulty sense of time
  • Difficulty to remember things
  • Anxiety

Long Term Effects:

Continued use can be seriously damaging in the long run. The drug alters the brain in such a way that it fails to work normally, in the absence of drug. It is particularly true for individuals who start the use from a very young age. It can:

  • Reduce thinking capabilities
  • Effect the memory adversely
  • Decrease learning abilities

It produces these effects by preventing the brain from developing normal connections between different parts of the brain that are involved in these functions. If drug is used for a small time, these effects are reversible but if the use is prolonged, recovery becomes impossible.

Other Health Effects of Marijuana:

Marijuana has its adverse health effects on both body and mind.

Physical Effects:

  • Breathing problems: The inhalation of marijuana can seriously derange lung structure and just like cigarettes, it produces all the adverse effects. Frequent use can induce persistent cough with mucus, damage to lung structure and lung infections.
  • Abnormal heart rate: Heart rate is increased with the consumption of marijuana and the condition lasts for a few hours. It can increase the risk of heart diseases especially for elderly people.
  • Abnormalities in the fetus: The use of marijuana during pregnancy can seriously harm baby, leading to a failure in normal development of body and brain. The brain can be affected to such an extent that the baby develops problems with memory, focusing and problem solving later in life. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has issued a Marijuana Research Report to offer extensive insight on adverse effects of marijuana use during pregnancy.

Mental Effects:

Marijuana can alter brain’s structure that results into:

  • Hallucinations: Seeing and hearing things that are not there.
  • Paranoia: An inability to trust anyone
  • Disorganized thinking: A failure to concentrate on anything

Other Effects:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal tendencies
  • Self loathing

Effects of Using Marijuana on School, Office and Social Life:

Studies suggest that adverse effects of marijuana on brain such as decreased attention span, problem with focusing, poor memory and problems in learning new things can last for much longer periods. So the mental capabilities of marijuana users are greatly reduced causing them to work on a lower intellectual level than they are capable of. Studies have found that students who don’t smoke perform better at academics than the ones who do. Uncontrolled usage can result into even more serious consequences such as dropping out of school and suicidal tendencies.

The Overall Effects of Using Marijuana:

Marijuana ends up affecting every aspect of a user’s life. The addicts have reported experiencing:

  • Lower self esteem
  • Declined mental health
  • Declined physical health
  • Problems in relationships

It is evident that marijuana addiction has far reaching consequences that a person might not be aware of at first. Marijuana is also considered a gateway drug that opens a way to other more harmful drugs. Its use is associated with an addiction to other substances as well, for example nicotine.


Road to drug and alcohol recovery is easy if you follow our extensive addiction recovery guide.