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.

minute read

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.

Ready for help?
Call us today. You don’t need to face addiction on your own.

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.

Don’t let your loved one suffer.
Addiction responds to treatment. Call us to get started.

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.

Questions about rehab?
Get confidential help day or night.
  • Access to top treatment centers
  • Compassionate guidance
  • Financial assistance options

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.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I have read and agree to the conditions outlined in the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

  1. You CAN be physically addicted to marijuana. A person who takes marijuana and finds they sleep better using it and yet when they stop they can not sleep and get cold sweats have become physically addicted. A person who becomes angry when not using it is physically addicted. A person who finds they only have an appetite when using marijuana is physically addicted. The natural occurring THC in the brain when replaced by large amounts of THC on a regular basis causes the brain to not generate as much THC. Withdraws begin as the brain physically is not producing the THC that the body physically needs.

  2. You cannot be physically dependent on marijuana. Being a plant with psychoactive ingredients, people can only feel like they want to smoke some pot because it’ll make them feel less bored/less angry/less sad. These are mental dependencies and can be easily ignored. A physical dependence means that you start having cold sweats, you can’t sleep, you can’t eat, you have seizures. Etc etc.

  3. I just wanted to touch base with you Caitlyn and see how your doing. Your story broke my heart… I am praying things have gotten better for you!!

  4. I’m certain this is the wrong place to be leaving this comment but it the best place I’ve seen so far and I’m hoping someone will see this that may have had a similar experience because I am desperate for any suggestion.
    My husband has been sober for 25 years, anyone who knows him know that it is one of the thing he is most proud of about himself. I did not know him in his partying days, I met him while he was 3/4s of the way through his year long out patient rehab. We have been married for 24 years,alcohol was not his problem but I have never seem him drink so much as a beer, he smoked A LOT of pot that led to his ultimate drug of choice, coke. Over the years he has provided support for people when they needed it, even became a sponsor for one of his ex employees in Sept.

    We have had some serious financial problems for the past 4 years and he has been under extreme stress, but the light at the end of the tunnel has been getting bigger and bigger. The holidays were normal, I woke up on a Friday morning, he was totally normal. When I got home from work he was sitting on the couch (he’s never home when I get home) he told me told sit down he needed to talk to me, he said he was leaving. It seriously took 3 minutes for me to process that he was talking about me, I thought he meant his job. His whole demeanor was someone I’d never met before, he started throwing out every cliche in the book, he didn’t love me anymore, he wasn’t happy, I had to have see this coming (no I didn’t) everything was all my fault, he was not going to go to counseling and we are selling the house. He then said he’s moving in with a friend, but refused to tell me who because I’d go over there and make a scene. Of course I immediately thought there was someone else because that seemed more believable to me than a relapse, relapse wasn’t even on my radar at that point. This was all in an 8 minute conversation, the icing on the cake was that he told our 22 year old son that he was leaving BEFORE he told me. So he was fine with him walking around with that info all day.

    He did not contact me once in 10 days, When he finally did it was via text, I didn’t even even respond because I’m not at a point where it would be constructive. When he left the house he only took enough clothes for a week, he has not even asked about the rest of his clothes, hasn’t asked about the dogs that he adored a month ago. Didn’t take his passport, birth certificate or toothbrush, but during our 8 minute conversation he’d been thinking about this for a long time? Now I have come to find out that he is bouncing from house to house like some frat boy.
    I have irrefutable proof that he has been smoking weed, proof that would stand up in court (not that it’s going to court, but addicts lie and he could not lie his way out of it) Now I don’t know what to do.

    Putting aside what he did to our family, that can be felt with later. I KNOW if he hasn’t gone back to coke he his headed down that road, I have to get him help, but right now it is easier to blame me for everything so he won’t listen to me. Where do I go? Do I tell my son? Am I doing him a favor by protecting him from his father’s drug abuse? I don’t know if I say something I’ll make it worse? His business partner is his friend who I would normally go to but if he knew my husband would be out in half a second.
    I know I’m rambling, sorry

I am ready to call
i Who Answers?