Occasional marijuana use is defined as less than once a week. Most people who use marijuana will fall into this category. Settings for occasional marijuana use are typically in the context of social gatherings like parties, concerts, or perhaps just hanging out with a few close friends. Occasional users can therefore also be called opportunistic users, meaning that they typically feel no desire to use outside of these specific contexts, and do not seek out marijuana for themselves.
Occasional Heavy Use (Binge Use)
Just as it can be easy to binge on a bag of potato chips or your favorite TV series, it can be easy to go a little overboard with marijuana. Heavy use in individuals who don’t use often means that they have less tolerance and are more likely to experience intense effects. Sometimes, binge-use is an intentional attempt to totally disconnect from reality. Alternatively, binging can occur when less experienced users unintentionally use too much, either because they’re already a little high, or because the first or second dose has yet to really kick in.
Chronic Use (Daily or Near-Daily Use)
If you are a daily or near-daily user, or if you have used regularly for months to years, you are not alone—as marijuana use has become more common, chronic use has increased as well. Like brushing your teeth or making a cup of coffee, it becomes part of your daily routine. You might feel a need to smoke at a predictable hour or associate certain activities with the sensation of being high, be it watching television or falling asleep.
If you use every day, chances are high that you feel uncomfortable when you stop smoking, and that using makes those unpleasant feeling go away. After a long period of marijuana use, your withdrawal symptoms may be cause so much discomfort that you are motivated to use marijuana just to prevent them from occurring at all. If you’re experiencing this frustrating cycle of withdrawal and dependence, it may be worth learning more about cannabis use disorder.
Not only does chronic marijuana influence your behavior, it can also have lasting consequences on your mood and state of mind. People who use marijuana every day or almost every day may be at increased risk for depressive symptoms or anxiety disorders (Keith et al. Am J Addict, 2015).
Brian Canfield, Ed.D.
Professor, Counselor Education at Florida Atlantic University. Founder of the International Association of Psychology and Counseling.
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