Any drug that changes the way the brain processes information can be addictive. Marijuana is no exception, with an estimated 30 percent of users misusing the drug.
"There are many warning signs of marijuana addiction," explains Lin Sternlicht, LMHC, MA, EdM, a therapist at Family Addiction Specialist in New York City.
"Some of the major ones to pay attention to are increased quantity and/or frequency of marijuana use in order to attain the same desired effect, failed attempts at stopping or cutting down, using more marijuana than intended, loss of pleasure or interest in other activities in order to use marijuana, andrijuana use despite adverse consequences to one’s life."
So what happens if your marijuana addiction goes untreated? That, too, varies from person to person, says Sternlicht.
Changes in relationships
Marijuana addiction can change your relationships in several ways. First, the addiction itself can become a distraction from real human connection. You may be unable to focus on relationships with loved ones, or too impaired to participate in meaningful conversations.
Over time, choices related to addiction—missing a child's recital, stealing money from a parent, forgetting a spouse's birthday, becoming aggressive and angry during withdrawal—may severely damage or even end your closest relationships.
Loss of interest in hobbies and goals
"Some individuals may become lazy while using marijuana and lose interest in pursuing certain goals and ambitions," explains Sternlicht. Some people feel less motivated when they are under the influence of marijuana. Even when the high itself doesn't sap your motivation, the addiction can.
Getting more marijuana or spending time getting high can become a full-time pursuit, eclipsing everything else you once cared about. The hobbies and interests that once helped you deal with stress may now feel useless compared to the draw of your addiction.
Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level and across many states. Using marijuana where it is illegal puts you at risk of arrest, incarceration, and various issues stemming from these experiences—such as losing a job because you were arrested.
Even where marijuana is legal, addiction may pose other legal concerns including:
- being charged with driving under the influence
- engaging in criminal acts, such as stealing, to get money for marijuana
- engaging in doctor shopping or prescription forgery to get a marijuana prescription
When marijuana saps your motivation, it can destroy your performance at school or work. Marijuana-related legal problems may slow your ascent up the career ladder, cause you to be fired, or lead your employer to question your integrity.
Addiction can be a huge source of workplace distraction, causing your performance and your relationships with your co-workers to deteriorate.