How to Deal With Cannabis Addiction

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Written by Jonathan Hutchinson on 06/01/2022.
Data Last Updated: 07/04/2024.

Chromometer 9 min

The Addiction Center defines “addiction” as the mental and physical dependence that significantly changes the way a person thinks and behaves. Being a psychoactive plant, marijuana also carries a huge risk for people who use it repeatedly and thoughtlessly. In this article, we’ll tell you about the nature of cannabis addiction, its causes and ways to deal with this malady.

How to Deal With Cannabis Addiction

What Is Marijuana Addiction

Most commonly, we use the term “addiction” when talking about some psychoactive substance abuse. It goes for the recreational weed, too. According to modern medical science, there are two components of marijuana addiction:

  • psychological dependence;
  • physical dependence.

First of all, a person connects certain events or feelings with the use of weed, developing so-called triggers. It becomes very hard to quit smoking weed when you see the same people or exist in the same circumstances associated with cannabis use all the time. Or, for example, when you cannot fall asleep and perfectly know that marijuana can help with it. At the same time, you physically feel bad without the drug, which is the withdrawal symptom.

Mechanism of Cannabis Addiction

The psychoactive effect of marijuana is provided by the active biochemical compound tetrahydrocannabinol, we’ll use THC for shortness. The before-mentioned Addiction Center claims that this ingredient is responsible for such cannabis effects as:

  • euphoria;
  • good appetite;
  • hallucinations;
  • less stress and anxiety.

Although one can hardly overdose cannabis, it carries many other risks, including uncontrolled behaviour and using other illicit substances which leads to intoxication.

Mechanism of Cannabis Addiction

The mechanism of marijuana addiction is as follows:

  • naturally, cannabinoid receptors work with the endogenous neurotransmitter anandamide;
  • THC gets into your body and targets these receptors, over-activating them and making you feel high;
  • the brain “thinks” that THC is anandamide, because it works and looks like the latter one;
  • with the repeated and long-term use of marijuana, the brain gets used to receiving THC instead of anandamide and stops producing it;
  • a person starts feeling the withdrawal symptoms each time when they do not give enough THC to their body. This is when we develop physical dependence and cannot feel normal without weed.

All in all, a person cannot quit or control the desire to obtain and use the drug.

Marijuana Addiction Rate

Marijuana Addiction Rate

Marijuana addiction can be clinically diagnosed, and there are ways to treat it. According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the latest numbers of the cannabis addiction rate in the USA are:

  • 55 m of Americans use it;
  • 30% of them develop dependence;
  • over 3,500 teenagers try marijuana for the first time every day;
  • underage people have 7 times more chances to become cannabis addictive;
  • in 2020, the sales of marijuana increased up to 150%, depending on the state.

And the main problem with cannabis is its increasing potency. The average concentration of THC in weed now is about 15%, and 30 years ago it did not exceed 4%. Moreover, the THC level in so-called dabs can reach 40-90%.

Symptoms of Cannabis Addiction

Symptoms of Cannabis Addiction

The main symptoms of marijuana addiction are craving for cannabis and inability to quit smoking weed even when you think about it and make attempts. Another important symptom that can help a doctor diagnose the addiction is withdrawal. Other signs can help you understand it is time to raise the alarm, too:

  • mood swings and psychological problems — paranoia, depression, anxiety, aggressiveness, etc.;
  • reduced cognition and memory;
  • lack of focus and motivation;
  • increased appetite;
  • sleep disorders;
  • red eyes and cottonmouth;
  • excessive tiredness;
  • inability to cope with everyday tasks;
  • coordination difficulties;
  • social isolation, etc.

Knowing these symptoms, you will detect the problem and have time to learn how to overcome cannabis addiction.

Main Steps To Combat Cannabis Addiction

Main Steps To Combat Cannabis Addiction

There are two main strategies for how to give up cannabis and combat addiction — abruptly and step-by-step. The first one only seems easier, but for both you need to know some secrets to do it successfully:

  • throw out or pass on your gear if you want to quit immediately;
  • or make a schedule how you’d like to taper on gradually;
  • be ready to deal with triggers — stop seeing the same people or watching the same TV shows, find a hobby, avoid stress, try melatonin or some relaxing practices to cope with insomnia, etc.;
  • talk to close friends and family about your problem;
  • change your routine, and substitute smoking marijuana with other activities, like reading, surfing the internet, walking, meditating, etc. Stay busy;
  • set special boundaries and rules when socializing with people who use weed. For example, leave when someone asks you to smoke with them or go outside when they smoke;
  • if you need help coping with the withdrawal symptoms, seek professional help. You can choose some kind of therapy, special rehab center for cannabis addiction, or even hypnosis.

None of these methods can be a 100% guarantee from slip ups. Remember, it can happen to everyone and it is not the reason to give up.

Marijuana As a Replacement for Prescription Drugs

Marijuana As a Replacement for Prescription Drugs

What if you use marijuana not for recreational purposes, but as a medication for some health problems? Medical cannabis is very popular and mostly legal nowadays, and the latest research shows that we observe a 25% decrease in deaths from prescription pain-killers overdose since it has been legalized. More than 65% of patients prefer marijuana instead of licit drugs.

The benefits are numerous:

  • cannabis has fewer adverse effects;
  • it works better with pains, seizures, mood swings, and other ailments;
  • cannabis withdrawal is much easier to cope with than that of other medications;
  • it also helps to quit alcohol and illicit drugs.

But what about the addiction? Do you have to give up medical cannabis even when you really need it?

CBD And Addiction

CBD And Addiction

First of all, always pay attention to how your body accepts weed and notice the bad signs of dependence and withdrawal. Use weed only when you need it and in reasonable amounts. And think about CBD-high THC-low marijuana strains that contain next to zero THC, which means they do not produce any psychoactive effects.

Lots of concerns about medicinal CBD marijuana still exist because many experts still think that THC and CBD are the same, which is not true. Cannabidiol works differently in our bodies, and does not make us high. Moreover, it seems CBD does not let THC interact with the cannabinoid receptors. The recent study of Shanna Babalonis and colleagues clearly shows that CBD causes the same addiction as the placebo.


As you see, marijuana addiction is a serious problem, but you can deal with it if you make a decision and really want to quit. Talking about medical cannabis, you have to remember that therapeutic properties of weed are contained in CBD, which has nothing to do with the “high” feeling, euphoria, and being stoned. Thus, if you switch to CBD-rich marijuana, you do not have to worry about any negative effects of weed, including the problems with cannabis dependence.


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