Marijuana Use Disorder

Marijuana Use Disorder (MUD), also referred to as cannabis use disorder, is a condition characterized by problematic patterns of marijuana use that result in significant impairment or distress. This disorder is officially recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a classification system widely used by mental health professionals.

Diagnosis of Marijuana Use Disorder :

To receive a diagnosis of Marijuana Use Disorder, an individual must meet specific criteria outlined in the DSM-5, which include:

  1. Impaired Control: The individual uses marijuana in quantities or over a duration that exceeds their intended limits. Despite expressing a desire to cut down or control use, they find it challenging to do so.

  2. Social Impairment: Marijuana use contributes to social issues, such as strained relationships with family and friends or difficulties at work or school.

  3. Risky Use: Continued marijuana use persists despite awareness of its contribution to physical or psychological problems.

  4. Pharmacological Criteria: Tolerance, where more marijuana is needed to achieve the same effect, and the experience of withdrawal symptoms when not using.

  5. Time Spent: A significant portion of time is devoted to obtaining, using, or recovering from the effects of marijuana.

  6. Neglect of Activities: Important activities are curtailed or abandoned due to marijuana use.

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Although the therapeutic benefits of marijuana have become a talking point of late, it’s important to remember that marijuana is still one of the most widely used drugs in the world. Known colloquially as pot, weed, and cannabis, the use of this plant poses a few different risks in terms of health.

Rising Potency :

The rising potency of marijuana has also become an issue. Research on THC levels (the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis) of confiscated samples in the USA reveals some interesting data. In the early 1990s, the average THC content in marijuana was around 5 percent. In 2014, it was as high as 14 percent.

Side Effects of Marijuana Use :

The long-term effects of cannabis vary according to several factors. These include how a person uses it, how often, their age, and the amounts they use. Side effects include but are not limited to: memory loss, concentration issues, lung irritation and the recognition of a new clinical condition known as Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome, which affects the stomach. 

However, the primary risks for young people using marijuana are centered around permanent changes to the brain, specifically the areas of the brain responsible for attention, learning, decision-making, emotions, coordination, and memory.

Motivation and Marijuana Use :

Reduced motivation is often noted as a consequence of cannabis use. Recent research findings have concluded that some cannabis users appear to lack motivation to work or pursue their normal interests. Scientists at Imperial College London, UCL and King’s College London found that the cause of this is linked to dopamine levels in a part of the brain called the striatum. These were lower in people who smoke more cannabis and those who began taking the drug at a younger age.

Signs of Marijuana Addiction :

So how does one differentiate between the casual toke and a marijuana use disorder? These signs may not be a fixed or definite list, but they may help you determine whether it’s time to seek addiction treatment.

  • A strong craving to use marijuana.
  • Loss of interest in activities that you previously enjoyed – especially if you forgo them in order to use marijuana
  • Relationship issues due to your cannabis use. This can include avoiding people who do not approve of your cannabis use.
  • Developing a high tolerance for the drug, and having to use more in order to garner the same effects
  • Using the cannabis so often, or getting so intoxicated by it, that you cant get  important things done, or fail to meet commitments
  • You’ve noticed changes in your cognitive functions or cognitive impairment
  • You’ve tried to abstain or moderate your use without success.

Marijuana Use Disorder and the Brain :

Marijuana use disorder becomes addiction when the person cannot stop using the drug even though it interferes with many aspects of his or her life. Estimates of the number of people addicted to marijuana are controversial, in part because epidemiological studies of substance use often use dependence as a proxy for addiction even though it is possible to be dependent without being addicted. Those studies suggest that 9% of people who use marijuana will become dependent on it, rising to about 17% in those who start using in their teens. Marijuana use can lead to the development of problem use, known as a marijuana use disorder, which takes the form of addiction in severe cases. Recent data suggest that 30% of those who use marijuana may have some degree of marijuana use disorder. People who begin using marijuana before the age of 18 are four to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder than adults.

Treatment for Marijuana Use Disorder :

Seeking help through treatment can teach users how to handle the emotional hurdles involved when quitting Marijuana. Treatment often includes a therapist or addiction counselor who can coach patients and help them by providing a strategy for sober living.

Recovery852 is headed by Grant Sanders. He has over fifteen years of experience and over 3,000 hours of clinical experience working in addiction recovery, including alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamines, prescription medications and marijuana.  With a degree in Social Science, he is a U.S. licensed, accredited and internationally certified addiction professional. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction contact Recovery852 today.