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Is Marijuana Addictive for Teens & Young Adults?

Updated 27 October 2022 Written by Deborah QuinnClinically Reviewed by Sarah Fletcher, LPC, LAC
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Is Marijuana Addictive?

Yes, marijuana is addictive. Unfortunately, many people have a misconstrued view of addiction and marijuana. Parents often struggle to know when their teen is dependent or addicted to marijuana and how to help them. The drug is often seen by the general public as non addictive and harmless. Learn the facts about marijuana.

What is Substance Addiction?

A basic definition of substance addiction is defined as the compulsive use of that substance despite negative consequences. Using may lead to tolerance build up and withdrawal symptoms, each of which are associated with addiction.

About 50% of the US population reports having used marijuana at least once, and of those people, 9%, or approximately 14.4 million people, will develop an addiction to marijuana.

However, very few of these individuals will ever enter a marijuana addiction treatment center or receive marijuana addiction counseling in order to get the help they need. If you believe marijuana addiction is a problem for your teen and are looking for adolescent addiction rehab options in the Denver area contact us.

9% of people who use marijuana will become dependent on it

What is a Marijuana Addiction?

The American Psychiatric Association labels marijuana addiction as Cannabis Use Disorder or Cannabis Dependence. Some of the possible symptoms are:

Increased usage: Unintentionally using larger amounts of the drug and for increasing periods of time as usage continues

Inability to quit: A desire to quit or cut back with attempts being unsuccessful

Cravings: Experiencing cravings or urges to use

Poor performance at school/work/home: There is a negative effect, poor performance or decreased abilities, at work, school or home due to using

Ignoring obligations: Giving up or reducing recreational, social or professional obligations because of the drug

Problems with interpersonal relationships: Continuing to use even though it causes problems in social or interpersonal relationships

Using when physically harmful: Having used the drug even when physically hazardous to do so

Experiencing withdrawal symptoms: Irritability, anger, aggression, nervousness or anxiety, insomnia or troubled sleep, decreased appetite with potential weight loss, restlessness, depressed mood, abdominal pains, tremors, fever or chills, sweating, or headaches.

Effects of Marijuana Addiction on Teens

Adolescents are at particular risk for developing dependence to marijuana for several reasons. The younger substance use begins the higher the likelihood of that person developing a substance addiction. Secondly, there is a vulnerability to the adolescent brain, which is still developing, that can making addiction more likely as well as having other negative developmental impacts.

Studies have found that adolescents who use marijuana at least once a week are more likely to develop a dependence on the drug. The sooner teenagers get into treatment for marijuana addiction, either in outpatient drug addiction counseling or at a marijuana addiction treatment center, the better the long term results of treatment.

The results of a marijuana addiction in an adolescent can be severe and cause ongoing issues for the individual.

  • Adverse effects on brain development which affect long term brain functioning
  • Struggles at school
  • Failure to launch syndrome
  • Struggles with other mental health issues: anxiety, depression and psychosis
  • Increased likelihood of sexually transmitted diseases, delinquency, teen pregnancy, dropping out of school
  • Increased likelihood of using tobacco

Marijuana is addictive and can have deleterious effects on teens who begin to use the drug and find themselves dependent on it. For parents, it can be confusing to understand all the information regarding marijuana. The belief that marijuana is not dangerous or has no ill effects and is a “safe” drug for kids to use is not only wrong but can have terrible consequences.

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Marijuana Addiction Treatment Options

Treatment is the most effective, and has the best long term results, the sooner it is begun. It is important for parents to know if their child is using and how to get help for the child. As a marijuana addiction treatment center for adolescents in the Denver area, we can provide support, knowledge and counseling to the ones you love.

We can begin to answer your questions and start the treatment process, contact us.

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Online Treatment Programs

Our virtual IOP program offers the same programming that we offer in person, all online – this is ideal for those who live too far to drive to an addiction center, have transportation issues, or have health concerns that make in-person treatment challenging.

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We’re available 7 days a week to help answer any questions you may have.