The impact of substance use on other people can be misleading as it represents results that may differ from your use of the same substance—even if used in the same manner with the same frequency. Marijuana is one of those substances that can be deceiving in its use as you find, for example, the person who introduced it to you seems to be able to stop anytime while your dependence on it seems to have increased over time. Today, let’s talk about how to identify if you have reached the point of a marijuana use disorder and what first steps you should take to begin treatment.
Although marijuana is commonly considered a safer drug to use recreationally, it comes with a risk of dependence for the regular user. One of the risk factors for developing a dependence is starting use before age 18, and mental health conditions can add to the risk of developing a marijuana use disorder when using the drug to cope with depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder. A person experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using marijuana, including cravings, restlessness, and difficulties sleeping, may have a dependence on the drug and will benefit from treatment in an evidence-based program.
Marijuana users can experience an increase in tolerance over time.
Using marijuana regularly can lead a person to consuming more of the substance eventually to get the same results as the body builds a tolerance for it. Whether it’s used for recreational or medical purposes, achieving the desired level of pleasure or relief creates a demand for more and more marijuana. The heightened level needed can lead a person to smoking marijuana daily or multiple times a day to maintain the results they want.
Dependence on marijuana can be influenced by how early you started using it.
Simply stated, starting to use marijuana at an earlier age comes with a greater risk of dependence. The evidence points to the formative years before age 18 as a time when the first marijuana use makes dependence much more likely than if started to use as an adult. The potency of the marijuana can be a factor in its impact on affecting young brains as well.
Feeling withdrawal symptoms when not using marijuana is a sign of dependence.
Physical discomfort and a variety of other symptoms associated with marijuana withdrawal can lead a person to using again to minimize these feelings. Symptoms can include cravings, changes in mood, irritability, restlessness, difficulties sleeping, decreased appetite, and more. These withdrawal symptoms can begin anytime and the last until the next dose is taken.
Dependence can keep a person using even when it’s negatively affecting their lives.
A person can recognize the problems associated with marijuana, including financial difficulties or legal consequences from possession of it or related paraphernalia, and still continue to use the same amount regularly. The inability to protect one’s self and allow these negative consequences to continue is another sign of a dependence on the drug. However, it is possible to experience a marijuana use disorder and seek treatment before facing personal, financial, or legal outcomes from the dependence on it.
Mental health conditions can affect someone’s dependence on marijuana.
Mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, can make marijuana dependence more likely as a person turns to using as a means to manage their overwhelming feelings. As they find comfort and escape from those feelings, they may rely more and more on the drug until a dependence develops. While using marijuana, they may focus on what they perceive as the benefits (e.g., decreased anxiety and increased social connections) without noticing they’re use of the drug has increased in frequency and amount over time.
Origins Counseling Dallas provides a range of outpatient options for recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 561.841.1264.