How to Help a Marijuana Addict

  1. Table of ContentsPrint
  2. Help for Marijuana Addicts
  3. Marijuana Addiction Treatment
  4. Is Marijuana Addictive?
  5. What Are the Signs of Addiction?
  6. Am I Addicted to Marijuana?
  7. Call Our Hotline Today

woman smoking

Marijuana continues to be the most widely abused illicit drug. The increased state-level legality of marijuana may be promoting perceptions of lower risks and higher benefits among high school students. In recent surveying, one third of 10th graders and 44% of those in the 12th grade reported having used the substance in their lifetime, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Should these upward trends in use continue, our country will almost certainly begin to see higher numbers of people negatively impacted by marijuana use and abuse.

Marijuana Help Quiz question 1

Help for Marijuana Addicts

People that require assistance in managing their use or ending use of marijuana completely have a number of effective treatment options. They include:

  • Patient education.
  • Talk therapy interventions.
  • Motivational incentives.
  • Family education.
  • 12-step supports.

There are no approved medications that can aid in recovery from addiction to marijuana directly, however pharmaceutical management - with more appropriate psychiatric medications - may be helpful if marijuana use is a method of 'self-medication' for an underlying mental health issue.

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Marijuana Addiction Treatment

Multiple options are available for treating marijuana addiction. Since withdrawal symptoms are seldom dangerous, detox programs are not strictly necessary. Generally, treatment will occur in either a residential rehab or outpatient setting depending on the needs and wants of the individual and the recommendations of the treatment team.

Treatment may utilize:


  • Psychoeducation. As mentioned, there are many misconceptions about marijuana use. An essential treatment component will be educating the addict on the facts and dangers of the substance.
  • Therapy. Many helpful therapeutic options work for substance use and addiction. They can occur as individual and group therapies related to only addiction issues or mental health features that are underlying. Willingness to experiment with different modalities will boost success.
  • Family education and therapy. Education and therapy are crucial for the supports of those addicted, just as they are for the addicts themselves. This helps to create a safe environment for the user that sets appropriate boundaries and limitations without being too critical.
  • 12-step/community supports. Outside of professional treatment options, someone with a marijuana addiction can receive assistance from peer supports in the form of 12-step meetings and other community programs. These will provide recovery information from those with personal experience.
  • Drug testing. Because marijuana can be detected in urine screens four weeks after last use, these tests can act as strong deterrents, especially when incentives are given for success.

Whether people just try it once or make a habit of it, lifetime marijuana usage is incredibly common in the United States: over 110 million people - more than one third of the population - report having ever used marijuana.
Marijuana Help Quiz question 5

Is Marijuana Addictive?

Despite reports to the contrary, marijuana can be addictive. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports:

  • One in 11 (0.90%) adults that use marijuana will become addicted to it.
  • This rate increases to 1 in 6 (17%) for those that begin use as teenagers.
  • People that use marijuana daily have addiction rates between 25% and 50%.

The THC in marijuana activates cannabinoid receptors in the brain leading to effects like:

  • Euphoric feelings.
  • Distorted perceptions of reality and time.
  • Decreased anxiety, initially.

Many users will seek to replicate these feelings. Eventually, the user may develop a tolerance--means that higher qualities or quantities of the substance need to be ingested to produce the same high as when use of the drug first started. Attempting to overcome the phenomenon of tolerance with increasingly larger amounts of marijuana may place raise one's risk for experiencing negative effects, as well as compound the intensity of said drug effects.
Marijuana Help Quiz question 2

What Are the Signs of Addiction?

Marijuana use can bring about a variety of unintended consequences. Whether the substance is used infrequently or in large amounts for extended periods, negative effects can occur.

Problematic signs of marijuana use include:


  • Thinking problems. When use begins as a teen, marijuana affects the way the brain develops. This can reduce the way one thinks, learns, and solves problems. In the short term, marijuana can impair decision-making skills and decreased coordination. In the long term, the substance is related to lower intelligence, as measured by IQ tests.
  • Physical health problems. Smoking the substance can lead to a list of lung-related issues including chronic respiratory illness and cough. Additionally, all marijuana use can result in higher heart rate for up to 3 hours after use--potentially increasing likelihood of a heart attack and other cardiac issues in some individuals.
  • Mental health problems. Paranoia, hallucinations, and disorganized thinking are just a few of the negative effects that can happen during use. Long-term use can lead to higher incidence of depression, anxiety, and thoughts of suicide, especially in teenagers. Marijuana use has even been linked to the exacerbation of psychotic symptoms in those with schizophrenia.

Other signs of marijuana addiction include:

  • Lack of motivation.
  • Smelling like the drug.
  • Weight gain.
  • Possession of/ displaying of paraphernalia.

The presence of withdrawal symptoms can also indicate marijuana dependency and addiction. These include:

  • Appearing grouchy or irritable.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Lowered appetite.
  • Sweating.
  • Stomach pain.
  • Headache.

Marijuana Help Quiz question 3

Am I Addicted to Marijuana?

For those struggling with a marijuana addiction, use of the substance will typically continue even after leading to impaired daily functioning or producing other unwelcome strains to life. If your marijuana use has negatively influenced these facets of life, you may have an addiction:

  • Employment.
  • Personal and professional relationships.
  • Finances.
  • Education.
  • Legal issues and contact with law enforcement.

Note: Addiction can still occur even if the substance is legal or prescribed to you.

Marijuana Help Quiz question 4

Call Our Hotline Today

Just because marijuana does not have the negative reputation and extreme effects of other substances does not mean that it is safe. Addiction can and does end with negative consequences.

If marijuana use has negatively impacted your life, call 1-888-744-0069 to gain more information and potential treatment options


Marijuana Help Quiz question 6