Getting help for marijuana addiction

Despite popular belief that it’s impossible to get addicted to cannabis, a number of users do develop a psychological dependency on marijuana through long-term use. While ‘addict’ is a fairly all-encompassing term, in this case it’s defined as someone who can’t stop using marijuana, even though it is negatively impacting their day-to-day life.

What are the signs of marijuana addiction?

Whether you think you might be developing a cannabis dependency or you’re concerned about the habits of a friend, it’s important to know the signs of marijuana addiction. Some of the common characteristics include:

  • Being under the influence of marijuana for more than one to two hours per day.
  • Failing to meet personal or professional obligations due to cannabis.
  • Experiencing memory loss or having difficulty focusing on a task
  • Spending a disproportionate amount of time buying, using or recovering from cannabis use.
  • Growing increasingly willing to take risks, such as operating a vehicle, when under the influence of marijuana.
  • Expressing a desire to reduce cannabis consumption.
  • Encountering withdrawal symptoms when giving up marijuana for periods of time.

Addiction is a complex phenomenon. One of these signs on its own may not be proof of cannabis dependency, but a combination of characteristics can highlight a potentially problematic behavioural pattern.

What can you do if you think you or a loved one may be addicted to marijuana?

There are a number of steps you can take if you think you or a friend may be addicted to marijuana.

Knowledge is power. Get to know everything you can about cannabis through support groups, online resources, books and by talking to a professional healthcare provider. Alternatively, you can get in touch with the Alcohol Drug Helpline on 0800 787 797 for confidential and unbiased information.

If you’re concerned for a friend, one of the best things you can do is simply be there to provide unconditional support and encouragement. New Zealand has a great network of substance abuse and mental health experts who can help you and your loved ones on their journey to recovery.