The Addictive Nature of Marijuana

Marijuana is a drug that is receiving increased national attention. As of the 2020 elections, 15 states plus Washington, D.C,. have legalized recreational or medical marijuana. While some think this is a positive step towards decreasing arrests for marijuana possession, others have sounded the alarm about marijuana addiction.

Some people may claim that marijuana is a safe drug. However, marijuana can result in real consequences to a person’s body and mind. Over time a person can slip from recreational use to addiction often without recognizing the signs and symptoms. 

The Types of Cannabis

There are two types of cannabis plants. 

Cannabis sativa L, or hemp, isn’t psychoactive, which means it doesn’t alter the mind. Hemp is used in clothing, oils, beauty products and other items.  

Cannabis sativa—known as marijuana—has mind-altering properties. Marijuana comes from the dried leaves or flower buds of cannabis sativa. The Substance Abuse Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality states, “Marijuana is the most commonly used psychotropic drug in the United States, after alcohol.” 

Marijuana Myths

Although marijuana has become more mainstream for some time, it’s important to debunk some of the myths of this substance:

  1. Marijuana Is Safe

While smoking or ingesting marijuana runs a relatively low risk of death, there are ways it can harm a person. Marijuana can cause:

  • Lung cancer
  • Memory loss
  • Panic attacks 
  • Depression
  • Anxiety


  • 2. Marijuana Is Not Addictive

Tolerance to marijuana builds up over time. People can smoke or ingest more marijuana or increase the frequency of their use to obtain a similar feeling to that produced by previous use. The increased tolerance meets the American Psychiatric Association  (APA) for drug addiction. The APA also lists the following criteria for dependence:

  • Distorted thinking
  • Distorted body functions
  • Intense cravings
  • Poor judgment or decision-making
  • Substandard learning or memory capacity
  • Lack of control over one’s behavior

Other signs of addiction include:

  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Continued use despite adverse effects
  • Lack of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Canceled meetings or get-togethers


3. Marijuana Doesn’t Interfere with School or Work

Marijuana can decrease the brain’s ability to process or retain thoughts. A person can have an inability to concentrate on the issue or task at hand. The lack of concentration or ability to maintain thoughts is because the chemical found in marijuana, THC, changes the brain’s chemistry. THC alters how the brain processes information and communicates information to other parts of the mind and body.

4. Marijuana Doesn’t Cause Cancer

There are more than 500 chemicals found in marijuana. That amount of chemicals can, over time, facilitate cancer cell growth. The most notable type of cancer is lung cancer. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says lung cancer is the leading cancer killer in both men and women in the U.S.

Marijuana Addiction Treatment

The first step to treating an addiction to marijuana is to admit there is a problem. A person can ask themselves if they have any of the mentioned signs or symptoms or if they experience:

  • Inability to cut down or stop smoking or ingesting marijuana
  • An increase in risky behavior such as sex with a stranger, driving while high or other dangerous actions that can increase the risk of harm
  • A decrease interest in personal hygiene or appearance

If a person can say they have any of the mentioned signs or symptoms of marijuana addiction, they can benefit from addiction treatment. 

Types of Treatment

Traditional treatment is associated with psychotherapy. Psychotherapy is conducted either in a group setting or an individual therapy session setting. A person can learn about their marijuana addiction while also incorporating treatment for mental health disorders or family issues. 

The role of mental health or the family is vital to understand and address while in therapy.

Treatment centers often use an evidence-based approach to understand and apply the research that shows a move from thinking about addiction as a genetic disorder to a brain disorder. Viewing addiction as a brain disorder helps people understand the changes in their brain’s chemistry is why they can’t stop using drugs. The shame, embarrassment or guilt associated with drug addiction can decrease once a person realizes addiction isn’t a choice; it results from a chemical change in the brain.

Holistic therapies can enhance recovery by helping people calm their minds and connect with their thoughts in a healthy way. Some holistic treatments include:

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Journaling
  • Spending time in nature
  • Massage
  • Reiki 
  • Acupuncture

Comprehensive addiction treatment incorporates holistic therapies because they help patients learn how to listen to their mind and body. An element of addiction is the inability to control emotions or behaviors. Holistic therapies teach a person to refocus their energy into positive action. A person begins to use these techniques to listen, reflect and gain a greater understanding of how they can increase their well-being. People in treatment are encouraged to try different holistic therapies because finding the right fit is essential to begin healthy habits. 


Despite several states legalizing marijuana for recreational or medical use, the genuine dangers of marijuana still exist. People can lose interest in activities, fail to retain thoughts or memories, develop lung cancer or engage in risky behaviors. Marijuana addiction is treatable. Cliffside Malibu knows how essential comprehensive care is to addiction treatment. We stay updated on the latest information and methods of addiction treatment and incorporate holistic therapy to aid a person’s path to sobriety. For more information, call us at (855) 403-5641.