Recognizing the red flags for marijuana addiction isn’t easy. Nobody is perfect, and the challenging task of reflecting on your own thoughts and patterns of behavior is just a part of human nature.
Some warning signs that you may be addicted to marijuana include cravings, tolerance, and withdrawal symptoms.
Cravings for marijuana are common when you have been using marijuana for a long period. Your body has come to expect the presence of marijuana in your system, and using marijuana alters your brain circuitry so that, each time you use, you get a little less effect. Cravings can be both predictable—whether it’s a certain time of day, situation, or social context—but can also strike without warning, making them dangerous.
Tolerance describes a physiological reaction that your body mounts to a constant stimulus. When our bodies are continuously or repeatedly exposed to a signal—marijuana—the natural response is to tone down the response—aka, the strength of marijuana’s effects. It’s meant to be a protective mechanism, but, in the case of marijuana and other substances, it means that with continued use, you need to use more in order to achieve the same effects.
Finally, withdrawal symptoms are essentially your body’s reaction to the absence of marijuana. In our entire section devoted to withdrawal, we dive into the biology of why withdrawal happens, how it evolves over time, and what you can expect. Things like irritability, anxiety, decreased appetite, restlessness, and sleep disturbances are not only common, but can be a major source of discomfort and disruption in your daily life (Zehra et al, J Neuroimmune Pharmacol, 2018). That being said, recognizing these red flags may be a sign that you have a bigger problem at hand, and can put you on the path to recovery.