Know the Symptoms of Teenage Marijuana Addiction

There’s been a lot of talk about marijuana in the last few years with the recent legislation that has made purchasing and using marijuana legal in four states and the District of Columbia, including if marijuana can be addictive, especially for adolescents. Read on to get all the details about the addictiveness of marijuana and how it can affect high school-aged children.

1)    Is Marijuana Addictive?
Yes, marijuana is addictive. While it might not be as potently addictive as other drugs like heroin or cocaine, estimates place marijuana addiction at around 9% of users. This number increases for high school-aged children 17% or one in six teenage users. An annual survey shows that nearly 7% of high school seniors smoke marijuana nearly every day could already be nurturing a budding marijuana addiction. This could be reflected in their grades and participation in extracurricular activities as well as their home lives.


2)    The Symptoms of Addiction
The symptoms of marijuana addiction can be behavioural as well as physical. The first and most obvious symptom of addiction is increased tolerance. If an individual finds that it takes more marijuana to reach the same high, then it’s likely they are forming an addiction.

In addition to tolerance, symptoms of addiction could include distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, difficulty in thinking and problem solving, ongoing problems with learning and memory, red bloodshot eyes, constant cough, rapid heartbeat, hunger, dry mouth, anxiety, paranoia, fear, poor coordination, and slow reaction time.  For teenagers in high school, these symptoms might present themselves as skipping school, getting high before, during, or after school, failing grades, dropping out, or lying to their parents.

Behavioral changes that may be symptoms of marijuana addiction include:

  • distorted perceptions
  • impaired coordination
  • difficulty in thinking and problem solving
  • ongoing problems with learning and memory

Additionally, several other signs of marijuana abuse are frequently visible in users:

  • red, blurry, bloodshot eyes
  • constant, mucus-filled cough
  • rapid heartbeat
  • hunger, referred to as munchies
  • dry mouth
  • anxiety, paranoia, or fear
  • poor memory
  • poor coordination
  • slow reaction time
  • loss of control
  • addiction


3)    The Symptoms of Withdrawal
Withdrawal symptoms are highly likely to present themselves in an addicted individual that quits using marijuana. These symptoms could include insomnia, loss of appetite, anxiety, irritability, and drug craving. These symptoms could last up to two weeks from the last use and can make it difficult to stay off the drug.


4)    There Is Help
While marijuana addiction might present similarly to other addictions, the fact is that there is help available and the long-term outcomes may be more likely to be favourable. While there are no current medications that might help with recovering marijuana addicts, there are a number of therapies that might reduce symptoms and help avoid relapses. These include motivational enhancement therapy, contingency management, group or individual cognitive therapy, or family-based therapies.