Can you get addicted to weed?

Yes, you can get addicted to weed. If you smoke chronically, your risk of addiction is high. More on weed addiction here.

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Yes. Long-term use of marijuana leads to addiction in some people.

Some people don’t believe that you cannot be physically addicted to marijuana the way that people are addicted to other drugs. But this is not true. In addiction to tolerance and withdrawal symptoms when THC levels drop (how long does THC stay in your system?), elements of psychological addiction to weed have been documented and agreed upon by experts. We review the characteristics of weed addiction and what you can do about it here.

What does it mean to be addicted to weed?

One of the first signs of marijuana addiction is using weed despite negative consequences. In other words, if you are smoking weed compulsively, even though it interferes with your health, your family, school, work, and/or recreational activities, you could be addicted to it. In addition, people addicted to weed cannot control their urges to seek out and use marijuana and think about it obsessively. Frequent, heavy marijuana users also develop “tolerance” to its effects and need eight times the dose to get the same effects as infrequent users. Other characteristics of addiction to weed include:

  1. Craving and uncontrolled urges to use marijuana
  2. Obsessive thinking about marijuana
  3. Needing higher doses to achieve euphoric effect (tolerance)
  4. Using marijuana despite negative consequences
  5. Withdrawal symptoms when dosage is lowered or stopped

Who gets addicted to weed?

Marijuana is the most common drug of abuse in the U.S.  Why do people smoke weed?  Well, for lots of reasons.  In fact, 60% of all illegal drug abuse occurs with marijuana and about 1 in 12 people who smoke weed may become dependent on it. The risk of addiction goes up to about 1 in 6 among people who start smoking weed when they are adolescents, and 25-50% of daily users. According to one study, teenagers who exhibit antisocial problems and use marijuana can quickly become addicted to it.

Are you addicted to weed? How to find help

Do you get high from eating weed? Yes. But most people smoke marijuana, leading to almost instant euphoria, and increased risk of addiction.

There are currently no medications used to treat marijuana addiction but several cannabinoid antagonists that are in development.  For example, cannabidiol, THC and lofexidine are currently under clinical trial to test how they affect withdrawal symptoms and whether or not they can help prevent relapse.  So at the moment, marijuana addiction treatment programs focus on counseling such as contingency management (CM), motivational enhancement therapy (MET), cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and combinations of those approaches. There are also a number of programs designed especially to help teenagers who abuse weed.   Finally, support groups have been found to help treat addiction to weed.

Family doctors can be a good source for information and help when dealing with marijuana problems. If you are seeking treatment, you can also call a National Drug and Alcohol Treatment hotline at 1–800–662–HELP (4357) for information on counseling services, or treatment options in your State. Drug treatment programs by State also may be found online at www[dot]findtreatment[dot]samhsa[dot]gov.

Reference sources: NIDA for Teens: Facts on Marijuana
NIDA Marijuana Update

Cognitive Function as an Emerging Treatment Target for Marijuana Addiction
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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  1. My 16 year old son admits to have been smoking marijuana for the past two years. He refuses to stop. He has withdrawn from all activities he once loved, his grades are dropping and he is threatening to drop out of school. He has claimed to have had depression and suicidal thoughts. We have sought treatment with a team psychologists and psychiatrists. We have had him on Prozac. He spent time in a residential facility for the depression and suicide. He continues to lie and deceive us and refuses to follow any basic rules of the house. He is refusing any therapy and refuses to take any medication. We have dealt with violent outbursts from him when he has broken rules and has had consequences handed to him. He is physical and destructive. He runs away anytime he breaks the rules (which are very liberal). The first three run always we begged him to come home, we involved the police, and contacted all of his friends. The 4th time we just let him go. We have never kicked him out nor told him he could not return home. We suspect he may be dealing. We have found scales and several baggies. We are monitoring his phone and notice several different numbers incoming and outgoing calls. We do not know what to do. He has said he will lie his way through any treatment. He does not want our help. He wants to move out and be on his own at 16. We know if we force him to come him and he realizes all of his privileges (car and freedom) will be gone until he shows changes and improvements. He will become violent and destructive and will run away again. We (his parents) do not know what the right answer is. We have another 15 year old son in the house that cannot continue to be exposed to the violent outbursts and constant conflict. My 16 year old smoker refuses to abide by any rules and face the consequences when he breaks the rules. He thinks he should be able to do whatever he wants. He was once a very bright, responsible, talented, ambitious preteen who had the world at his fingertips and now he continues to make bad decision after bad decision. Please help with any advice.

    1. Hi Jamie. I suggest that you look into the CRAFT model for families and interventions. One NGO called Allies in Recovery has some online reading that can help:
      Also, call 1-888-503-1835 for a toll-free and confidential marijuana helpline available 24 hours a day, 7 days per week.

  2. Hi Nick. Perhaps we’re getting the terms a little confused. Marijuana dependence is physically possible and is indicated by significant withdrawal symptoms upon cessation, including anxiety, irritability, bodily discomfort, and insomnia. Marijuana addiction is characterised not be the presence of marijuana dependence, but by the psychological factors while compel use.

    But I agree with you on the rest!

  3. I have to disagree with your claim that cannabis can be physically addictive. There is no evidence (and many studies to the contrary) that marijuana use leads to physical addiction. However, it is true that an individual can become psychologically addicted to pot, just as they can to any other euphoria producing circumstance such as driving fast, skiing, etc… If a person finds themselves psychologically addicted, I would urge them to find what is driving them to turn to cannabis, as it is usually something deeper than the marijuana itself, which is more likely to be a symptom of attempted self medication against whatever is really going on.

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