Physical addiction to marijuana

Physical dependence on marijuana manifests as withdrawal symptoms upon cessation of use. What else characterizes this condition? And how is it different than addiction? We explore here.

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What’s the difference between physical dependence on marijuana and addiction to marijuana? Here, we list the most common physical symptoms of marijuana dependence and invite your questions or comments about helping marijuana addiction at the end.

Physical dependence on marijuana

Before going into details about addiction it is important to differentiate between physical dependence and addiction. Physical dependence occurs when a drug user’s body normalizes to the presence of the drug. When dependent on marijuana, a user functions normally only in the presence of the drug, in this case marijuana. Physical dependence is very common with chronic use of marijuana. The occurring onset of physical symptoms when the dosage of the drug is abruptly interrupted or seriously lowered to a minimum is called withdrawal symptoms. However, dependence differs from addiction.

Marijuana addiction is associated with behavior that meets the criteria for substance dependence called Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. During addiction, the mind does not accept abstinence from a drug and consciously leads a drug user to get more of the drug or even to increase the dosing and plan combinations in order to intensify drug effects. In fact, addictive behavior is characterized by a preoccupation, compulsive-ness, and strong need to use marijuana. It is crucial to point out here that addiction is principally psychological and that physical dependence on marijuana is a condition which resolves after a period of withdrawal.

Physical signs of addiction to marijuana

One of the most argued topics among users is whether marijuana is addictive or not. But clinical trials evidence that marijuana withdrawal symptoms manifest after a period of dependence AND that marijuana users qualify for diagnostic criteria of addiction.

The statement about addiction to marijuana is often questioned simply because the mindset of people has accepted marijuana as both medicinal and recreational drug. And it’s difficult to consider the possible side effects or long term impairments of marijuana abuse and overdose.

Following is a list of the most common physical signs of marijuana dependence and addiction. And remember, early detection, followed by prevention is always a win-win combination.

  • aggression
  • anger
  • anxiety
  • craving
  • depression
  • difficulty concentrating,
  • difficulty falling asleep
  • difficulty sleeping
  • irritability
  • loss of appetite
  • mood changes
  • raise in temperature
  • restlessness
  • sweating

Treating physical symptoms of addiction to marijuana

A few million people use or abuse marijuana currently, and over 60% of them are addicts. So how do experts approach physical and psychological addiction to marijuana? A brief review of the most common practices used in the process includes:

1. Detox – Detoxification is the process during which THC leaves the system and a marijuana user goes through withdrawal symptoms. It is important to know that detox clinics combine both prescription and over-the-counter medications in order to address withdrawal symptoms.

2. Treatment programs – Inpatient and outpatient services use methods of psychological or psychotherapeutic approaches and may include pharmacological intervention (medications) for mood disorders related to long term use of marijuana. These treatment centers commonly use peer support groups and environmental approaches to abstinence in combination with psychotherapy.

3. Psychotherapy – Psychological intervention often includes cognitive behavioral techniques, motivational interviews, or counseling in order to discover the underlying reasons which compel addiction. These types of therapy focuses on manipulation with thoughts, behavior and environment, in order to enhance the motivation of the marijuana addict to change. Either individually or in social groups, the results are monitored by a medical practitioner, and a several months follow up program is organized for the addict to attend. The most common results are decreased use of marijuana, successful long-term abstinence and socially active citizens for the good of their environment.

Physically addicted to marijuana questions

Are you still unclear about physical vs. psychological addiction to marijuana? In case there is something more you would like to know, please post your question or share a comment in the section below. We will try to provide you with a personal answer as soon as possible.

Reference sources: National Criminal Justice Reference Service: Marijuana myths
National Library of Medicine: The diagnosis of marijuana (cannabis) dependence.
National Highway Traffic Association: Cannabis (Marijuana)
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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