Is Cannabis Addiction Real?

Contrary to some opinion, cannabis can most definitely be used addictively. Pot has remained a popular drug of choice for teens and adults since the 60’s. Additionally, there has been a drastic increase in people 13 and over reportedly using cannabis. As states and countries continue to legalize marijuana and the potency of pot increases, it stands to reason that rates of addiction will increase as well. As of 2020, approximately 1 in 5 people in America report using cannabis and 3 out of 10 users have marijuana use disorder. Moreover, people who are 18 and under are reportedly 4 to 7 times more likely to develop marijuana use disorder. According to a SAMHSA study, from 2017-2019 approximately 1.3 million people ages 12 and older in Massachusetts reported smoking marijuana regularly, which is 0.5% higher than the national average. 

When a person has developed a physical dependence on Marijuana, their brain begins to adapt. Endogenous cannabinoids are the molecules in the brain that THC (the psychoactive component in marijuana) mimics. THC affects the brain’s regions that regulate dopamine, which is the neurotransmitter people often associate with pleasure. After continued heavy cannabis use, the brain will have a decreased response to dopamine over time. This results in increased tolerance and requires the person to use more marijuana to feel the same effects creating greater dependence on marijuana.

Signs And Symptoms of Marijuana Addiction?

Some of the most common behavioral, psychosocial and cognitive symptoms of marijuana addiction include:

  • An inability to stop using marijuana despite negative consequences
  • Using marijuana to cope with or escape from daily stressors
  • Social withdrawal and isolation
  • Lack of ability to focus or concentrate
  • Increased agitation and irritability
  • Poor decision making skills
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain and or increased appetite
  • Secrecy or deception surrounding marijuana use
  • Engaging in risky, reckless or otherwise dangerous behaviors
  • Delayed reaction time
  • Fear, panic and/or paranoia (psychosis)


Treatment Options For Marijuana

At the Commonwealth Collective we emphasize the benefits of using CBT, DBT, and outdoor activities to help in early sobriety and long term recovery. The Massachusetts mountains provide great nearby hiking trails, rock climbing and biking activities. In addition to this, we encourage the use of two key therapeutic approaches. The first is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is a form of psychotherapy that can help people manage their behavior by changing the way they think about themselves and the world around them.

The second is dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), which is a form of cognitive therapy that combines emotion regulation, mindfulness, and acceptance to help people identify points of conflict in their thinking and ultimately change the way they think. An additional useful form of therapy is motivational enhancement therapy, which attempts to mobilize one’s own internal resources to engage in self change. Each of these therapeutic treatment options have evidenced based results. Moreover, when they’re combined, they have much greater long term success with patients. 

If you or a loved one is interested in learning about our services, please contact us today to learn more about how we can help.