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Marijuana, also referred to as weed, is the dried leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers of the cannabis plant.

It contains THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the active chemical that produces psychological effects. There are several methods of ingestion for marijuana such as smoked via hand rolled cigarettes, also known as joints, packed into pipes, and/ or smoked out of water pipes (bongs), inhaled, or vaped via a vaporizer (using marijuana extract), baked into food (edibles), or steeped into a tea to drink. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has classified marijuana as a Schedule I Substance, which are defined as “drugs, substances, or chemicals…with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately one in ten marijuana users over the age of eighteen will become addicted, and it affects younger people even more, as one in six marijuana users under the age of eighteen will become addicted.

How Does It Work?

THC functions like the natural chemical produced in one’s brain known as anandamide. The primary function of this chemical is to send messages between the nerve cells throughout one’s body. The brain of an individual that habitually abuses marijuana erroneously thinks it is producing ample amount of anandamide when it is relying on THC. This can result on one’s brain ceasing to produce anandamide, leaving an individual reliant upon THC to function properly. An addiction occurs when an individual’s body becomes more accustomed to operating with the presence of a foreign substance (e.g., marijuana) in its system than without. When the substance is absent from one’s system it will physiologically react, and withdrawal symptoms will ensue.

Warning Signs

There are several warning signs and symptoms an individual may exhibit if he or she is struggling with marijuana addiction. The National Institute on Drug Abuse provide the following examples that could be indicative of marijuana abuse:

  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Impaired coordination
  • Nervousness
  • Weight gain
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Excessive overeating
  • Lack of motivation
  • Paranoia
  • Delayed reaction time
  • Anxiety
  • Memory impairment
  • Sleepiness
  • Euphoria
  • Distorted perception of reality
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Panic attacks
  • Mood swings

Every individual is different and has the propensity to experience different combinations of the above warning signs with varying levels of severity. The frequency of use, whether an individual is abusing other substances simultaneously, as well as the individual’s personal health history can also contribute to the far-ranging effects of marijuana abuse.


Addiction, also known as substance use disorder, is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic, relapsing brain disorder. It is characterized by compulsively engaging in rewarding stimuli (e.g., abusing drugs and/ or alcohol) without regard for consequence. The development of substance use disorder does not occur immediately, nor will recovering from addiction be achieved instantaneously. The path of recovery from substance abuse and/ or addiction is not necessarily linear, nor will it be the same for every person. The general treatment process for substance abuse and/ or addiction is often comprised of the following three stages in sequential order: detox, a substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment program, and aftercare.

The first step of treatment for marijuana abuse and/ or addiction is to undergo detox. Detox is the process that rids one’s body of all foreign substances. After an individual has successfully completed the detox process attending a formal substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment program is recommended. High quality substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment programs provide its participants with tailored treatment plans. Depending on one’s needs, these treatment plans include a wide variety of distinct therapeutic modalities, some of which could include any combination of: cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), psychodynamic psychotherapy, interpersonal therapy (IPT), mindfulness-based therapy, creative arts therapies, and more. Any individual that successfully completes a substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment program will leave with an aftercare plan. An aftercare plan is a co creation between the individual and his or her clinical treatment team that is developed during treatment. This serves as a personalized resource that provides individuals with both detailed and broad guidance, often including suggestions for how to navigate challenges post treatment, strategies for relapse prevention, and more to help with continued sober success.

Further Information and Support

Navigating the challenges that arise from living with mental illness, struggling with substance abuse, and/ or addiction can not only be all consuming but are often impossible to effectively handle without proper support. If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding mental illness, substance abuse, and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. Bear in mind that you do not have to be on this journey alone. At Upwell Advisors, we offer unique, customized concierge therapeutic services to provide our clients with unparalleled support throughout every step of the recovery process.

If left untreated, substance abuse, addiction, and/ or mental illness can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to leading happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives. Please do not hesitate to reach out for guidance. We welcome the opportunity to discuss how we might best be able to help you or your loved one in the recovery process. Feel free to reach out by phone at 917-475-6775. You are also welcomed to contact us anytime via email at [email protected] We look forward to supporting you on your journey.

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